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on December 28, 2003
Everybody remembers the scene. It's the one where he walks along the street, dancing, and singin' in the rain. The musical sequence has yet to be surpassed by any film -- even my all-time-favorite musical, "Grease" (1978), doesn't stand a chance. In fact, there's another great musical number in "Singin' in the Rain," with Donald O'Connor throwing his body around like a rag doll. Even though the singin' in the rain number is the infamous trademark of the film and musicals everywhere, my personal favorite is "Make 'em Laugh."
Not many people know, however, that Gene Kelly had a 103 degree fever during the filming of the infamous scene -- a dangerous thing to do, in retrospect, considering that he was flailing about and working up a sweat in pouring water with such a high temperature. But even then, not many people know that the "rain water" pouring down on the joyously cheesy street was actually composed of water and milk. The milk was added to the mix in an effort to achieve the effect of raindrops showing up on screen. (Mel Gibson noted once that most of the time during the filming of "Braveheart" it was raining around them, but it was basically impossible to notice any rainfall in the film since the sheets of liquid were so thin.)
"Singin' in the Rain" can probably be called the greatest musical of all time, even though my guilty pleasure is "Grease" (how outdated the film is, and yet how amusing it remains!). Every serious filmgoer knows this movie, and just yesterday as I watched Britain's countdown to the greatest musical ever made, I noted that "Singin' in the Rain" was high on the list ("Grease" was no. 1, although any list that posts "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Musical" higher on a list than "Singin' in the Rain" can't be trusted).
Don Lockwood (Kelly) is a silent film star in 1927, an ex-musician living an on-screen romance with Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) and letting the publicity take their screen relationship to a whole new level (think Ben and Jen's recent tabloid romance). The press loves to think that its two biggest stars are the nation's cutest couple, but in reality Lockwood despises Lamont, and Lamont -- having read trashy magazines -- believes their relationship to be factual. "Oh, Donny!" Lina cries. "You couldn't kiss my like that and not mean it just a teensy bit!" Lockwood: "Meet the greatest actor in the world -- I'd rather kiss a tarantula." Lina: "You don't mean that." Lockwood: "I don't? Hey Joe, get me a tarantula!"
When the silent film studio begins the transition from silent film to new "talkies," it means that Lockwood will have to take acting lessons in able to learn to truly be able to act, and Lamont -- a squeaky-voiced young lady -- will have to learn to learn proper grammar. (Some scenes with a grammar instructor reminded me of "My Fair Lady," truth be told, although it was filmed 12 years afterwards.)
Lockwood meets a young girl named Kathy Seldon (Debbie Reynolds), who refuses to fall victim to his Hollywood charm but eventually learns to love the guy after he gets her out of a tight squeeze or two.
Meanwhile, Lockwood's pal, Cosmo (O'Connor), suggests that they start to stage film musicals instead of feature "talkies" -- that way, all Lockwood needs to do is sing and dance, something he already excels at. ("Make a musical! The new Don Lockwood: he yodels! He jumps about to music!")
But people want Lockwood and Lamont, not Lockwood by himself, and the prospect of losing money is not a bright prospect for the film company. So Lina is filmed in the musicals with him, and towards the end of our film, sweet young Kathy dubs over Lina's voice and is given no credit for the task. Lamont is too embarrassed to admit that she can't sing, and so she blackmails the film distributor -- if they credit Kathy at the end of her new feature film, she'll take legal action.
And so comes the climatic finale on stage as Lockwood reveals the true singer behind the film (ironic, since it was Lamont herself who dubbed over Reynolds' voice during the sequence). As Roger Ebert noted, the scene where Lockwood bursts onto stage and fingers out Kathy from the crowd of onlookers is corny, but it's sweet and exactly the time of emotionally uplifting moment that is rarely made nowadays.
Gene Kelly's notorious cruelty on the set of "Singin' in the Rain" has become a sort of folklore, and it's true. He berated the actors if they messed up a single dance number. O'Connor later admitted that he was extremely frightened to make a single mistake, afraid that Kelly would lash out at him.
That strictness doesn't shine through Kelly's character in "Singin' in the Rain." In fact, many of the dance moves (such as the frantic splashing in the puddles) look quite haphazard, but they were all choreographed to an extreme.
Is that why the film is highly regarded as perhaps the definitive American musical? That probably has something to do with it. I think it's mostly the joy of it all, though -- bright, cheery, happy, and uplifting, the film is one of the most purely fun films of all time. It doesn't demand anything like some films, but it gives a lot back.
The ads for "Singin' in the Rain" promised a glorious feeling, and in that way the film lives up to its slogan. It is fun and bright and glorious and entertaining. It doesn't take itself seriously, but it offers the viewer a chance to experience something quite rare -- an all-around great movie.
What a glorious feeling, indeed.
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on February 13, 2003
If you like musicals and dancing, and you haven't seen Singin' In the Rain, then you should be ashamed of yourself. Just kidding (well.....). This musical has top-notch everything: dancing and musical numbers ("Moses Suposes", "Good Morning", "Make 'Em Laugh", and of course "Singin' In the Rain"), humor (the hilarious Donald O'Connor as sidekick Cosmo Brown), great acting performances (Gene Kelly as movie star Don Lockwood, and especially Jean Hagen as Don's partner in film, Lina Lamont) and a sweet if not simple plot about love and Hollywood's transition from silent to talking films. Gene Kelly is mesmerizing and magical during his "Singin' in the Rain" number, one of the best moments in cinema. The whole movie is just so much fun. The disc of special features is pretty good, with two interesting documentaries, one strictly about Singin' in the Rain (hosted by Debbie Reynolds) and one about Arthur Freed/MGM musicals. The movie was digitally remastered and looks wonderful, with bright colors and crisp clear images.
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on March 10, 2002
"Singin' in the Rain" is often considered the greatest film musical ever made (Though some would probably disagree, preferring "The Sound of Music" or "West Side Story" instead). With so much happiness, it is impossible not to like this movie. Unless you have a problem with feeling good, you should see this movie.
The cast is dynamic. Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds all show real enthusiasm as though they want to star in the movie, not "I was forced to by my contract" or "I did it for the money". Despite the fact it runs at less than two hours, this movie packs more excitement and great music than most dull, three-hour musicals combined. With enormous laughs (The biggest provided by O'Conner and Jean Hagen), great dialogue ("Why, I make more money than - than - than Calvin Coolidge, put together!") and fourteen wonderful songs including "Fit as a Fiddle", "Beautiful Girl", "You Were Meant for Me" "Make Em' Laugh" and "Good Morning". But the one everyone remembers the most is the title song, sung as Gene Kelly dances, twirls and, of course, sings in a storm (Stanley Kubrick later used the song in a less flattering way, but that's another story). I have also seen few movies take such beautiful and generous use of Technicolor.
As many fans should know, this gem turns fifty this year. Perhaps Warners (Or whoever owns the rights) should celebrate this golden anniversary by putting out a special edition DVD. Better yet, I would love to see this projected on the big screen. If you're listening out there, don't hesitate. Many others are waiting like I am.
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on September 26, 2000
I first saw this movie when I was five years old, my parents bought it, along with Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, when they bought our first VCR. Ever since, I have watched this movie countless times and have never tired of it. My mother and I practically have all the lines memorized by now. Gene Kelly is brilliant, funny and wonderful as Don Lockwood, the silent film actor who has the attention of every girl in America. Jean Hagen plays the woman he romances in all his movies, who is known more for her looks than her voice. Donald O Connor is absolutely hilarious as Lockwood's best friend and composer, Cosmo Brown. Debbie Reynolds completes the cast as a chorus girl, Kathy Seldon, who makes Lockwood take a good look at himself. The songs are unforgettable from "Fit as a Fiddle" to "Would You" (By the way, Jean Hagen doesn't sing for Reynolds in "Would You", it's a girl named Betty Noyes). I especially love the number that Kelly and O Connor do together, Moses, and one that I will not forget is You Were Meant for Me. Cid Charisse did a cameo appearance in the Broadway Melody Ballet number, and was gracefull and excellent, as she usuall is. Did anyone recognize Kathleen Freeman as Lina's voice teacher? Don't be left out in the rain with this one.
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on July 6, 2002
I'm now giving this DVD 5 stars because I discovered that it wasn't a bad quality DVD; it was my my DVD to V.C.R. hook-up that caused the problems. So kids, if you've had the same problems with the quality of your DVD viewing as I've described below, try hooking your DVD player either to a newer V.C.R. or directly to the T.V. So now allow me to apologize for my original review, and do purchase this DVD.

I'm giving this dvd 3 stars not because of the content of the movie but because of the quality of the dvd. Singin' in the Rain is a wonderful movie: very fun, very light-hearted, very good acting, singing, dancing, etc. But everybody knows that. What they don't know is that the quality of the dvd is very bad. In small print on the back of the box it says: "Standard version- presented in a format preserving the aspect ratio of its original theatrical exhibition." Which must mean that the DVD is supposed to run blurry and dark. Every 10 seconds or so the color lightens up and straightens out enough to see what's going on, but that only lasts for a second or two and then it goes back to blurry and dark. For me, watching this dvd was a practice in frustration. I LOVE this movie. It's too bad that the quality of the dvd is so bad. If you're going to buy this movie, (and you should because it's fabulous) buy it on VHS and save yourself the disappointment.
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For reasons too numerous to mention, this is my favorite musical comedy. Miraculously, it seems fresher and more entertaining each time I see it. Over time, it has developed what I guess could be called a cult following and then as it began to appear on television, in HVS and then in DVD formats, it was widely recognized as a great film. Indeed, it is ranked #10 among 100 on the list of the American Film Institute's "America's Greatest Movies." Only rarely has "Hollywood" felt secure enough to make fun of itself; especially to spoof its own difficult transition from silent to "talking" films. That is precisely what this film does with exceptional style, grace, wit, and energy.
Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are matinee idols who appear in silent films produced by a studio headed by R.F. Simpson (Millard Mitchell). I think Hagen's hilarious portrayal of her is the equal of Judy Holliday's best work. Here in Texas, we would say that Lina is dumber than 100 chickens. Lockwood endures her in public while doing all he can to avoid her in private. Unexpectedly, he meets and falls in love with an aspiring young singer and dancer, Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds). Kathy eventually provides the voice Lina needs when appearing in sound movies. Don's best friend, Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor), is involved in all this delightful silliness, at one point providing a brilliant solo performance of "Make 'Em Laugh." This film is much too good-natured to be considered satire. There isn't a mean bone in the body of the film. Each member of the supporting cast is superb, notably Mitchell and Douglas Fowley as Roscoe Dexter, director of the Lockwood-Lamont films. Stanley Donen and Kelly are identified as co-directors. Betty Compden and Adolph Green co-wrote the sparkling script and also contributed songs to the musical score as did Fred Brown, Roger Edens, Nacio Herb Brown, and Hoffman. I cannot think of another film which combines both music and comedy as effectively. An American in Paris and Chicago are also among my favorites but neither is as cohesive (I am tempted to say seamless) as is this glorious entertainment. You can thus understand why I am so pleased that the "Special Edition" has such a wealth of supplementary materials such as a Commentary in which Reynolds, O'Connor, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, Donen, Comden and Green, filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, and author/film historian Rudy Behlmer participate; "What a Glorious Feeling": a new 30-minute documentary about the making and impact of Singin' in the Rain: and "Musicals Great Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit at MGM," a 96-minute documentary about the career of producer-songwriter Arthur Freed. Treasures all!
For whatever reasons, Singin' in the Rain was nominated for only two Academy Awards and received neither. That's ridiculous. I wish it had been possible for this cast and crew to do another musical comedy together, this time focusing on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In that event, who would have been cryin' in the rain?
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on July 12, 2004
"Singin' in the Rain" is the definitive Hollywood musical, and charms and delights our 21st century audiences despite the (very few) characteristics of the genre that don't hold up quite so well.
There are so many high points to this movie -- the amazing cast, the songs, the choreography, and, most surprisingly, the satirical send-up of Hollywood and the "star system."
The plot is well-known. Silent film star couple, Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly, who also co-directed with Stanley Donen) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are America's sweethearts. At a Hollywood premiere of their latest romance, breathless fans ignore sidekick Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor, in perhaps the best sidekick performance in film history) and scream in delight as Lockwood and Lamont pander to their adoration. Nobody, however, seems to notice that the gorgeous Lamont never speaks . . .
Her imposed silence Lamont has a voice that recalls a cat with its tail caught in a wringer, although Lamont is such a "dumb blonde" (bless Hagen -- nobody ever played this stereotype better!) that she is blissfully unaware of her screech. No matter, 'cause it's the silent film era, right? Wrong! Progress brings in "The Jazz Singer" and the era of "talkies." No longer will clever staging of press events suffice.
Soon, Don Lockwood is staring career meltdown in the face as the first Lockwood-Lamont "talkie" sends the audience into hysterics. Not only is Lamont's screech audibly offensive, they can't keep the sound synchronized to the film, and the sound editing even when in synch is as amateurish as a high-school film production.
What to do? Fortunately, Lockwood had fallen for young, beautiful Kathy Selden (a teenage Debbie Reynolds), a starlet in the making. Cosmo comes up with the idea of dubbing Selden's voice for Lamont's, and all is fixed . . . or not. Lamont, an imbecile but smart enough to know her value, insists on ruining Selden's career to preserve her own . . . and so on and so forth.
The plot, ingenious as it is, is really secondary. The main delight in this movie is the amazing dancin' and singin' that the performers offer up. While most of it is pretty silly, campy stuff (particularly the Kelly-O'Connor set pieces), they simply dazzle. Kelly is the most robust, athletic dancer of his generation, and O'Connor, well, the man doesn't have a bone in his body. While the movie's most famous scene comes from Kelly splashing in puddles during the title track, the most amazing dance number has to be O'Connor's comic flailings in "Make 'Em Laugh," where he runs up walls, flirts with a mannequin, and generally pulls out all stops.
Debbie Reynolds does a magnificent job keeping up with these two giants, and is generally a pleasure to watch, even though she's clearly outclassed as a hoofer.
While some great old films seem to get better with age (think "Casablanca," "Gone With the Wind," and "Citizen Kane"), "Singin' in the Rain" is an American classic that does not hold up quite so well in some minor respects. For example, when breaking into choreographed step, Kelly, O'Connor, and Reynolds sometimes appear too rigid, with smiles frozen on their faces, which is incongruous to those raised on more modern musicals like "Moulin Rouge," where the dancers take a more naturalistic, emotional approach to their dancing. The dancing in "Singin'" holds up, but the performers were constrained by the expectations of their audiences, which somehow demanded that the performers "look pleasant" while dancing.
Still, "Singin' in the Rain" remains one of the best tonics to a foul mood ever . . . I defy you to watch this movie and not feel a smile creeping over your face.
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on January 23, 2004
It's all been said a million times...this is the great one, the best, and you're crazy if you miss it. Gorgeous Gene Kelly at his absolute best (a transcendent experience, to say the least!), lovely and delightful Debbie Reynolds, and the mesmerizing Cyd Charisse. Young Donald O'Connor is also here in the performance of his career. O'Connor is SO good as the loveably cynical Cosmo Brown that I'm boggled that the powers that be never utilized him to the full extent of his capabilities. As Bing Crosby said about him, "Is there anything he can't do?" Were the studios crazy or just plain blind to his abilities? Up to this point O'Connor had only ever played the adolescent in "B" movies (and he was back at it again after SITR), but they let him play an honest-to-goodness grown-up here, and oh, how wonderful he is! As for the sublime Mr. Kelly...Gene is ALWAYS magic, and here he is at his peak. Please don't miss ought to be part of everyone's movie library.
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on June 13, 2003
Singin' in the Rain (1952) 103 minutes
Studio: Warner Studios Director: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
Debbie Reynold - Donald O'Connor - Gene Kelly - Millard Mithchell - Joan Hagan - Cyd Charisse
The setting is 1927 in Hollywood. The story is about a man trying to keep his movies going without any sound. Don Lockwood is the movie star that acts with a leading lady of Hollywood and they have to become what the people want, so they act as a couple. The problem is that he can't stand her. He finds a woman in the movie that he is smitten by. Her name is Cathy, and she is a show girl.

I loved this movie. It have more talent in this one movie than all of the movies I have seen in my time. To bad I am to young to really appreciate the times that it came from.
The movie was in color and to bad they changed it because it would have been good in black and white also.
Don falls in love with Cathy and Lina is upset that it is not her that he has fell. When they make their first movie with sound it is a flop, so they decide to remake parts of the movie to make sure they keep their audience. They decide to make it a musical and to have Cathy be the voice over for Lina. Lina has an awful high pitched voice. Lina at the showing of the movie shows her true colors and blows her own cover about her voice. The movie was The Dancing Cavalier. In the end everyone is happy and the talkies took over the business of Hollywood.
A great musical for the whole family. I am giving many stars, because so many movies don't have the talent they used to have to bring people in to watch the best.
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on June 11, 2003
Calvin Coolidge! Put together!" An odd line, by any movie standard, but downright hilarious when said by nasally Lina Lamont, as played by Jean Hagen. 'Singin' In the Rain' enjoys a rare distinction in that it has a wonderful plot in between the incredible music numbers. So many musicals skimped on the plot. But such was not the case with Arthur Freed, Gene Kelly, and Stanley Donen at the helm.
If you're reading this, you probably know the plot by now, but I must comment on the performances. Gene Kelly is at his best (which is pretty darn good if you ask me) in this movie. His performance of the title number embodies the spirit of the movie musical. Jean Hagen (an underrated actress) nearly steals the picture with her performance. Debbie Reynolds as Gene Kelly's love interest must have been intimidated (being only 19 or 20 at the time she made the film), but she holds her own against Gene and Donald O'Connor. Please don't get me started on Donald O'Connor. I think he's been given far too little credit in every way imaginable as far as movie history goes. His dancing is superb, his comic style unmatched, and his charm level is through the roof.
That being said, I must address a few things in other reviews. The "Broadway Ballet" sequence DOES NOT detract from the movie. It is an essential part of it. Besides, it's a wonderful excuse to see the incomparable Cyd Charisse. She should have been in more Gene Kelly movies. Name a woman today with talent (and legs) like that. See? I knew you couldn't do it.
On to the DVD. The extras will not disappoint. There is some rehashing in the running commentary of things already said in the documentary hosted by Debbie Reynolds, but that's a minor quibble. For true movie musical buffs the documentary about MGM's legendary Arthur Freed unit is worth the price of the DVD alone. The picture quality is wonderful (the film was not shot in Cinemascope, so you're not missing anything) and the sound is very good, too. But, even without all the extras, I'd still recommend this movie. It is timeless.
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