Singin’ in the Rain is universally renowned as one of the greatest musicals of all time. In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked it as the fifth greatest film ever made. 2017 marks the 65th anniversary of the film’s release in 1952 and to commemorate the event, Fathom Events and TCM’s Big Screen Classic series have brought it back to theaters for two days only. Not only do audiences get to take in a pure classic, but they also get to pay a final respect to the late great Debbie Reynolds, whose career was launched thanks to the film. I have attended and reviewed many of the screenings from Fathom and TCM and this one had the largest crowd by far. The show was sold out; my family and I sat in the very top row, and the 7:00pm show was sold out by 1:30 in the afternoon.
Opening with an introduction from Turner Classics host Ben Mankiewicz, Singin’ in the Rain was a true labor of love for Gene Kelly. Kelly co-directed with longtime collaborator Stanley Donen, choreographed all the dance routines, and even performed his classic titular number with a 103 fever. His costar Donald O’Connor was a 4-pack a day smoker and after his uproarious “Make ‘em Laugh” song and dance, the actor was rushed to the hospital. Reynolds was not a trained dancer and put in countless hours of overtime in order to keep up with the men during the amazing “Good Morning” routine. Speaking of that routine, my 6-year-old daughter has been singin’ “Good Morning” since we left the theater, and then went on YouTube to watch Gene Kelly clips. Our 12-year-old son, who lives in the world of video games and special effects in all movies, was wide-eyed and proclaimed he “liked it.” High praise indeed, from this demographic.
For those in the dark the past 65 years, the musical deals with silent film stars Don Lockwood (Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) and the uneasy, life-changing move to talkies in the late 1920s. For Don, this transition isn’t a problem as we see him performing vaudeville routines with buddy and musical director Cosmo (O’Connor) since childhood. The problem is that Lina has, as Mankiewicz describes, “a look for sound, a voice for silence.” At the beginning, Don and Lina are living the elegant life of stars, but soon at a premiere of their first talkie, The Dueling Cavalier, audiences hear Lina for the first time and suffice to say the show is over. Enter the beautiful and talented Kathy Selden (Reynolds). Don, Cosmo, and Kathy come up with the crazy idea of turning the film into a musical called The Dancing Cavalier, where Kathy does the singing behind the scenes and Lina lip syncs.
The film is packed to the brim with incredible songs and dances. Sure, everyone knows and loves Kelly’s classic romp through the puddles, but every number is a true winner and each character is given a chance to shine. The chemistry between the three leads is palpable. While this will surely rank as one of the greatest musicals, I’d argue it’s inclusion in any list of greatest comedies as well. Literally everything Donald O’Connor does is funny, his facial expressions and quick one-liners reminded me of Danny Kaye in The Court Jester. And few people in Hollywood have ever had the total “it” factor like Gene Kelly. Directing, choreographing, acting, singing, dancing… the man was a genius at work. Debbie Reynolds shines as Kathy and it’s easy to see why she became such a big star.
Singin’ in the Rain will be in theaters one more time, Wednesday, January 18th at 2:00pm and 7:00pm. Check www.Fathomevents.com for theaters in your area and get your tickets early because like I said, both shows sold out on Sunday and did so early. Fathom Events continues with the classics later this month with the 30th anniversary of Dirty Dancing and then, right in time for Valentine’s Day, Fathom and TCM bring you the 60th anniversary presentation of An Affair to Remember.
Singin’ in the Rain (4/8) Movie CLIP – Good Morning (1952) HD
Singing in the Rain – Singin’ in the Rain (5/8) Movie CLIP (1952) HD
Singin’ in the Rain (7/8) Movie CLIP – Switch-a-Roo (1952) HD