SINGIN' IN THE RAIN Tribute
If I were told I could see only one more movie before I die, without hesitation my choice would be Singin’ in the Rain. I’ve watched this glorious musical over and over again, and each time it’s as fresh and lively as the first day it sang and danced its way across the big screen and into my heart. Hard to believe that was over 50 years ago!
To celebrate the movie’s 50th anniversary, a screening of Singin’ in the Rain was scheduled at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Los Angeles on September 5th, 2002. Making the event even more special, an on-stage Cast and Crew Reunion also took place. No wonder this Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences program sold out! (I can’t help imagining Gene Kelly and Jean Hagen cheering everyone on -- from their front-row seats in Heaven.)
What’s so good about Singin’ in the Rain? For starters, I’ve never been able to spot one dull minute in the entire film. Based on the crisis Hollywood faced back in the 1920s when "talkies" came on the scene, the clever story by Adolph Green and Betty Comden zips along from beginning to end -- with joyful musical numbers (from songwriters Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown) enhancing the plot instead of detracting from it. Here are my favorites:
"Make ‘Em Laugh" – Donald O’Connor’s hilarious slapstick routine.
"Good Morning" – exuberant dancing and singing by star trio Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, and Gene Kelly.
"Moses Supposes" – Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in one of the most energetic tap numbers ever filmed.
"Broadway Ballet" – the memorable screen debut of Cyd Charisse’s gorgeous legs .
"Singin’ in the Rain" – that famous title number danced with pure abandon and delight by Kelly.
A few months ago, my cousin and I were reminiscing about how much we enjoyed Singin’ in the Rain when it first came out in 1952. "You really lost it during ‘Make ‘Em Laugh,’" she recalled. "I still do," I confessed. Every time I think about the wacky faces O’Connor makes in that number, I’m forced to laugh out loud.
I also still smile remembering Jean Hagen’s portrayal of Lina Lamont, a big-time silent star whose annoying voice must be dubbed by newcomer Kathy Selden (Reynolds). Hagen earned a well-deserved Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her very funny work here. When Lina tells her fans, "If we kin bring a little joy into yer humdrum lives, then all our hard work ain’t been in vain fer nothin,’" little does she care if Kathy must give up her own career to protect another’s stardom. Incidentally, I love that quotation and have borrowed it for many occasions.
Although claiming she didn’t know how to tap dance before joining the Singin’ in the Rain cast, the perky Reynolds holds her own with pros Kelly and O’Connor. "Gene was a great teacher," she explains.
Co-directed with great pizzazz by Kelly and Stanley Donen, Singin’ in the Rain wins my vote as the most entertaining movie ever made.
(Released by MGM and rated "G" for general audiences.)