Film Review: Singin' in the Rain
In 1952, Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen released Singin’ in the Rain. Starring Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchell, Cyd Charisse, Douglass Fowley, Rita Moreno, King Donovan, Judy Landon, Madge Blake, Kathleen Freeman, Bobby Watson, and Mae Clarke, the film grossed $12.4 million at the box office
Don Lockwood is the king of silent films in Hollywood and one half of the Lockwood & Lamont team with Lina Lamont, an egotistical diva. His popularity is soon threatened due to the advent of talking pictures and the reality of Lina’s voice not matching her persona.
Though originally a box office disappointment, Singin’ in the Rain is a fantastic film detailing what movie studios and their actors endured when talkies came on the scene. At first, nobody believes it will have any lasting effect and some think it boorish, seen in the scene R.F. Simpson shows a short film demonstrating the concept. The guests are unimpressed, one of whom claiming it will never catch on and another outright calling it vulgar. The first talking picture to come out is from a rival studio and it’s a huge hit though, causing Simpson to make Don and Lina’s next film a talkie. The ensuing conundrums bring a lot of humor, from Lina missing the microphone to the test screening souring Don and Lina’s reputations. The film does present a good solution to the problems as well, where Don suggests creating a frame story to make the initial film a dream sequence, making it so the unintentional campiness becomes intentional.
Likewise, the film has wonderful characters. Don and Lina are constantly together both on film and during public appearances, producing the illusion the duo are an item. Off the screen and behind closed doors, on the other hand, Don wants nothing to do with Lina and she’s always after him to make the notion a reality. Furthermore, Lina is seen as a highly refined, respectable and classy lady who other women admire and envy. One girl goes so far as to state she’ll kill herself because she’ll never be like her as she’s watching a film. The reality is she has a screechy voice along with a grating personality and an eye for manipulation. In fact, Lina thinks so highly of herself that her ego is the eventual catalyst for the resulting fall from grace. Additionally, upon leaving the public eye, Don does not act as if he’s the king of Hollywood. Rather, he carries himself in a more down-to-earth and practical fashion. Don never lets fame get the better of him and instead, harnesses it in order to secure Kathy as the person to voice over Lina’s lines.
Complementing all of this are some great musical sequences. The most memorable is the title song in which Kelly dances down a city street in the rain, splashing in puddles and having an all-around good time. The way he moves throughout the entire number exhibits the love Kelly had for not only the number itself, but for the film as a whole. The moment ends humorously too, with a police officer approaching Don to ensure he’s sober, compelling him to head home. Moreover, it’s an excellent depiction of the love he has for Kathy. “Make ‘em Laugh” is also a notable song, containing well-done physical humor by O’Connor to accompany the song’s subject matter of how the most important task for an actor is to make people laugh.
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Golden Globe Awards
- Best Actor - Comedy or Musical (Donald O'Connor)
National Board of Review Awards
- Top Ten Films
National Film Preservation Board
- National Film Registry
Online Film & Television Association Awards
- OFTA Film Hall of Fame - Motion Pictures
Writers Guild of America Awards
- Best Written American Musical
- Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Jean Hagen)
- Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture
Golden Globe Awards
- Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical
- Best Film from Any Source
Directors Guild of America Awards
- Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures
DVD Exclusive DVD Premiere Awards
- Best Overall New Extra Features, Library Release (For the 50th Anniversary Edition
- Original, Retrospective Documentary, Library Release (For “Great Performances” (1972)For episode “Musicals Great Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit at MGM.” For the 50th Anniversary Edition
Golden Satellite Awards
- Best Youth DVD
- Best DVD Extra (For the commentary)