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Singin' In The Rain

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Singin' In The Rain

Starring: Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor
Director: Gene Kelly
Rated: G
RunTime: 103 Minutes
Release Date: April 1952
Genres: Classic, Music, Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, King Donovan, Millard Mitchell, Cyd Charisse

Review by Brian Koller
4 stars out of 4

"Singin' in the Rain" is generally considered to be the best Hollywood musical ever. It may well be, as I have seen no other musical that comes close. Perhaps the difference between this film and others is that it is not only a musical. If you remove all the musical and dance numbers, you are still left with an outstanding comedy. In fact, it may be the best comedy ever, unless "Dr. Strangelove" qualifies.

The story has Gene Kelly and Jean Hagen playing fictional silent movie stars for Monumental Pictures. It is 1927, and "The Jazz Singer" has made silent features obsolete. Monumental must transition to talkies. One of many problems is that Hagen can't sing, and her shrieking voice must be dubbed by Kelly's love interest, Debbie Reynolds. Hagen despises Reynolds, since she has plans for Kelly herself. Kelly's best friend is musician Donald O'Connor, and his studio boss is Millard Mitchell.

O'Connor wasted much of the prime of his career making films with Francis, the talking mule. While I suppose that both Universal and O'Connor had bills to pay, "Singin' in the Rain" demonstrates his prodigious talent. "Make 'em Laugh" in particular is a marvel, although Kelly must be given due credit for the choreography.

Debbie Reynolds was in her teens when this film was made, and she radiates with energy. Kelly is perfect as always, and Hagen gives a career performance as stupid prima donna Lina Lamont.

While it may be heresy to criticize such an outstanding film, the first two thirds of the film is even better than the last third. The film's momentum is disturbed by a lengthy dance sequence that includes mysterious femme fatale Cyd Charisse. One ballet scene has her wearing a dress that trails on for 25 feet, lifted by a wind machine. You've heard of gratuitous sex or violence; perhaps this is gratuitous Art, and it has little to do with the rest of the film.

But trivial flaws cannot prevent "Singin' in the Rain" from being among the best films ever made, as well as the best musical ever and one of the best comedies. Particularly great are the scenes with Kelly and Hagen in their first talky: the transition from pantomime to dialogue is both hilarious and revealing.

Copyright 1999 Brian Koller

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