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Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Page history last edited by HannahGay 9 years ago

 

 


OVERVIEW

 

The film Singin' in the Rain was released on March 17, 1952 (3).  Exploding with energy, color and optimism, Singin' in the Rain weaves a Hollywood love-story and outlines the themes of perception vs. reality and perseverance  (4). The movie itself consists of both song-and-dance numbers of a musical and a charming plot of a well-scripted drama, which, combined, led to the film's #10 place on the American Film Institute list of 100 greatest films (5).  In addition to its many awards, Singin' in the Rain has influenced many films, television shows and even TV commercials over the past 61 years, and it has additionally been translated into five different languages (1, pps. 220, 232, 233).

 

Volkswagen TV Commercial (2005) 

 

(9) Taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyxCP_i3uFk and indexed below

 


BACKGROUND INFORMATION 

 

The film, Singin' in the Rain, required the work of 237 people over the time frame of many months to complete (1, p. ix).  It began with the screenwriters Adolph Green and Betty Comden, who had written many scripts and musicals for the production company, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (M-G-M), before (6).  The head producer, Arthur Freed, directed the project from the beginning and was also responsible for many musicals and songs for M-G-M as well (1, p. 1).  Gene Kelly (who happened to be the main lead) and Stanley Donen then worked together as co-directors on this film, just like they had previously done for many years (6).  But what made this production unusual from the very beginning was that the original screenplay, written collectively by Green and Comden, was based on popular, early-19th-century songs (1, p. 17).  Just like the modern-day movie, Mama Mia!, the plot was derived from piecing songs together, and in particular, the songs of producer Arthur Freed (1, p. 1, 17).  The songs that were used in the movie--and were crucial to the plot--are listed below, along with the original film that they appeared in, if applicable (4). 

 

Songs Re-Used in 
Singin' in the Rain 
Some of the Previous Films
the Song Appeared In
Singin' in the Rain Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929)
Fit as a Fiddle (original to film)
All I Do is Dream of You Sadie McKee (1934)
Make 'Em Laugh similar to "Be a Clown" from The Pirate (1948)
I've Got a Feelin' You're Foolin' Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935)
The Wedding of the Painted Doll The Broadway Melody (1929)
Should I? Lord Byron of Broadway (1930)
Beautiful Girls Going Hollywood (1933)
You Were Meant for Me The Broadway Melody (1929); Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929)
Moses Supposes (original to film)
Good Morning Babes in Arms (1939)
Would You? San Francisco (1936)
Broadway Rhythm Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935); Babes in Arms (1939)
You Are My Lucky Star Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935); Babes in Arms (1939) 

(4) Taken from http://www.filmsite.org/sing.html and indexed below.

 


PLOT

 

The plot, brought together by the prewritten soundtrack and pure genius, involves the historic time where "talkies" or talking motion-pictures were introduced into Hollywood (4).  The main person, Don Lockwood, has humble beginnings and is a (hidden) rags-to-riches character, who has risen to fame with his old pal Cosmo Brown.  Now that Don is famous, everyone thinks that he, and his romantic co-star Lina Lamont, should get together.  Lina is also in favor of the relationship, but Don does not like her at all, for despite her beauty, she's a selfish, untalented, tone-deaf women.  Luckily, Don is not stuck with just Lina for long, and an another interest appears to the rescue in the form of a new starlet named Kathy Selden.  At first, Kathy and Don quarrel quite a bit, and Kathy is even fired from the movie studio as she threw a pie in Lina's face (which was meant for Don).  Their paths soon cross again, and Kathy and Don begin fall in love as they work together on the film set.  The movie climaxes when the first "talkie" of the movie studio is previews poorly, and all hope seems to be lost due to technical difficulties and Lina's poor speaking and singing voice.  However, after a late night of laughter and planning, Don, Cosmo and Kathy devise a plan to save the movie and their careers by having Kathy replace all the conversation and musical parts, which would make Lina just a lip-syncing actor.  The ruse is well-received by the studio director (named R.F. Simpson) and, though they try to hide the plan from the jealous Lina, she discovers the trick, lashes out at Kathy and threatens to keep her as a voice through all her future movies, basically ruining Kathy's career.   Nevertheless, the boys Don and Cosmo come to the rescue again, and while Kathy is singing behind a curtain for Lina at a prestigious movie showing, the boys backstage pull out the partition and (finally!) reveal the truth of Kathy's talent and Lina's lack of said talent to all.  The film, then, ends on a high note with Kathy's recognition, and the publicization of Don and Kathy's romance and the studio's filmatic success.   

 


CHARACTERS

 

There are five main characters (highlighted in bold), and four other characters--played by already-famous celebrities--which complete the film (6).  Listed by importance, the characters are:

 

  • Don Lockwood.  An optimistic, bold actor who not only rules the silent films but masters the "talkies" as well.  Played by Gene Kelly, who happens to be a co-director in Singin' in the Rain as well, he struggles with the fatal flaw of pride as he is quite talented in dancing and singing as well as charismatic (6).  
  • Kathy Selden.  Kathy is a beautiful, charming, spunky new actress who is the object of Don's affections.  Acted by Debbie Reynolds, she is very loyal to her new friends and fun to be around; she is also a talented participant in all the singing and dancing parts (6). 
  • Cosmo Brown.  The childhood friend (and still ol' pal) of Don, Cosmo is the backbone and witty mastermind for many of the changes in the "talkie" film.  Cosmo, who is played by Donald O'Connor, can also be quite a clown and engages in some energetic, slap-stick comedy throughout the movie (6).
  • Lina Lamont.  The very personification of the perception vs. reality theme, Lina is a beautiful women with a horrible, manipulative personality and no talents to speak of.  Acted by Jean Hagen, Lina is additionally a foil to Kathy, for she is difficult to be around, self-centred and uncooperative (6).
  • R.F. Simpson (Studio Head).  Described as "the bumbling but benevolent studio boss" (2, p. 18), R.F. Simpson, played by actor Millard Mitchell, keeps a distant, but manipulable role in the film (6). 
  • "Broadway Ballet" Dancer.  A role acted by Cyd Charisse, this dancer is best known for her 1920's-esque, erotic dance scene with the young hoofer (played by Gene Kelly) in the "Broadway Ballet" dream of the film (6).  More of a symbol than a character, she brings reality, the love of money and syphilis in the film (2, p. 19).
  • Roscoe Dexter (Director). Played by Douglas Fowley, this character in the studio is best known for being the frustrated movie director, who bears the brunt of Lina's problems and all the technical difficulties (6).   
  • Zelda Zanders (the "Zip Girl").  The character Zelda, who is played by Rita Moreno, is the bosom friend of Lina Lamont and is the one who tells Lina that her Kathy is the voice-over to all of her parts (6).
  • Phoebe Dinsmore (Diction Coach).  Finally, the diction coach--acted by Kathleen Freeman--is memorable for her patience and professionalism in her helpless role in trying to improve Lina Lamont's speech (6).

 


FILMATIC MOVEMENT

 

Singin' in the Rain comes from a long line of musical-inspired films produced by M-G-M (1, p, 4).  The first musical created by the company, in 1929, was called The Broadway Melody and it inspired many films after that (including Singin' in the Rain) with a romantic comedy plot, numerous song and dance numbers and an unharnessed use of dubbing (1, p. 5).  A key element in these films, which separated them from other movies that included musical numbers, was that most of the dances and songs did not occur on stage (1, p. 77).  Instead, these films tended to be more natural intermixed and upbeat in their inclusion of music, which added to the overall rhythm of the film (3).  Then, during the Golden Age of filmatic musicals, it was normal to see a full fifty-member orchestra at the set while song and dancing numbers were being recorded in addition to the studio's use of the more modern, pre-recorded songs and dubbing techniques (1, p. 7).  The overall venture(s) of Hollywood musicals led to the cost to be radically higher--more than three times as much--than the typical movie during the 1930's and 1940's (1, pps. 10, 11).  However, the musicals of the Freed Unit (Arthur Freed, Adolph Green and Betty Comden among others) were a lucrative business for audiences were willing to pay higher admission prices for musicals, thus supporting the movement (1, p. 11).  

 


THEMES

 

The main theme, reality vs. perception, is interwoven in many levels in the film.  From a basic level, the entire movie centers on what Hollywood wants others to see and what Hollywood actually is through its difficult, dramatic changes (and shortcomings) in the "talkies" (2, p. 14).  It is easy to see how the actors try to keep a good reputation (or façade), and the best examples of this includes Lina Lamont's publicity posts (which double as manipulative material for R.F. Simpson) and Don Lockwood's early speech on his life and personal dignity (4).  The latter speech is quite ironic as Don talks about his upbringing and early career in an affluent, respectfully perception, but the cold, hard reality is clearly displayed to the film audience--several examples of this are as follows (4):

 

Lockwood's Verbal Description

APPEARANCE
The Screen Version 

REALITY
With him (Cosmo), I used to perform for all of Mom and Dad's society friends. They tap danced in poolrooms to harmonica music, and gathered pennies off the floor that were thrown to them.
Then if I was very good, I was allowed to accompany Mom and Dad to the theatre. They brought me up on Shaw, Moliere - the finest of the classics. They snuck into movie theatres to watch B-movie shows (such as The Dangers of Drucilla (a King Kong rip-off)).
To this was added rigorous musical training at the Conservatory of Fine Arts. Cosmo plays a honky-tonk piano accompanied by Don sawing on a fiddle, in a three-man band in a smoky bar-joint.
Then we rounded out our apprenticeship at the most exclusive dramatics academy. They audition for burlesque-style "Amateur Nights" with a typical slapstick vaudeville routine. They weren't always received with applause - sometimes they got the hook.
In a few years, Cosmo and I were ready to embark on a dance concert tour. We played the finest symphonic halls in the country. Audiences everywhere adored us. Signposts from out-of-the-way towns locate them in Dead Man's Fang, Arizona, Oat Meal, Nebraska, and Coyoteville, New Mexico, where they are booed off the stage by the audience after a double-fiddle, tap-dance number.

(4) Taken from http://www.filmsite.org/sing.html and indexed below.

 

As mentioned earlier, many aspects of Lina Lamont's character also serve for the theme of perception vs. reality (4).  The numerous uses of Kathy's voice-over for Lina, for example, is an obvious one, for Lina's self-proclaimed appearance does not  match with her true self (3).  A more unknown, hidden example of the voice-over and this theme involves the character Kathy Selden herself; the producers felt that she did not have the true, trained voice to sing all the parts of Singin' in the Rain, so many of her songs are actually dubbed by singer Betty Noyes (1, p. 145).  What a confusing situation, then, is the ending of the film where Lina Lamont is dubbed by Kathy Selden behind the curtain, who, in turn, is dubbed by another, better singer!  

 

The second, more minor theme in Singin' in the Rain is the idea of perseverance.  There are several "difficult" parts outlined in the movie, but the characters consistently manage to be the better for it (at least, everyone but Lina Lamont) and they progress onward.  This theme is especially highlighted when comparing the film Singin' in the Rain to the more recent film, The Artist, which dealt with the historic transition to talkies as well (8).  In comparing the two, writer Lindsey Bahr recognizes that, 

"Singin' in the Rain, meanwhile, boasts only two brief moments when Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) laments that he's nothing more than a museum piece and not fit for the change. Both instances of self-doubt are addressed within a few minutes with a solution and a song. That's a crucial difference. Whereas the film from 2011 lets its hero wallow in the loss of a form and the end of an age, the one from 1952 is glad to leave behind the old for the new and uses the situation more as a vehicle for comedy than for charming reflection (8)."

In addition to the present examples of the difficulties of the "talkies," it is arguable that the rags-to-riches story (above) of Don and Cosmo further adds to the theme of perseverance.  This theme, coupled with the first, seems to make the film universal in nature as it applies to everyone's dream to become famous and talented.

 


CINEMATOGRAPHY

 

The cinematography for Singin' in the Rain is well-chosen and matches well with its emotions (2, p. 16).   The quality is high and still clear by today's standards--there are no purposeful grainy scenes in the film.  The film also uses the traditional three-strip Technicolor and single-channel recording, and the blue strip on the Technicolor made the movie's colors even more vivid (1, p. 77).  There are some black and white scenes, however, and a few of them were even "reused" from older films, such as some of the background scenes in the silent short, The Royal Rascal (1, p. 141).  In all the scenes, regardless of the color or the "recycled" aspect of the scene, the camera maintained a rather far distance from the actors (10, p. 10).  Writer Pierre Hobson, noting on the general cinematography and mise en scene of the film, explained that,

"The use of mise en scene in Broadway Melody [otherwise known as "Broadway Ballet"] was apparent from the start because the neon lights combined with the camera's long shot and provided depth of field illustrating Broadway's intensity; "a thousand hearts beat quicker there."  The long shot which transformed itself into a panoramic shot helped the mise en scene by adding grandeur to the scene as hundreds of people came running out to cheer and dance." (10, p. 10).  

In the film Singin' in the Rain, other points of view, tracking shots and panning are utilized as well, and through many of the dances, there exists a "cine-dance" of sorts with the camera (1, p. 126).  Both directors, Gene Kelly and Stanley Donan, made sure that the cameramen kept the characters approaching the camera, and not vice-versa (1, p. 126).  Gene Kelly spelled out the technique by saying, "If I stopped, we would bring the camera up and cut and come sideways so I would move back and forth.  Always into camera.  Always the forces were pushing, pushing the camera" (1, p. 126).  The cinematography in the movie, however, is best explained by seeing and several aspects of the crane camera, framing and composition, following shot and reframing as well as tracking shots in the movie.

 

Crane Camera

 

(11) Taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGSf_Eu4ClM and indexed below

 

 

Framing and Composition

 

(12) Taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdL9w9MoYnU and indexed below

 

 

Following Shot and Reframing

 

(13) Taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riN0OyLug8A and indexed below

 

 

Tracking Shots

 

(14) Taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpl5I6vUpT4 and indexed below

 


VISUAL ELEMENTS 

 

The mise en scene of Singin' in the Rain was very present in many of the dances, and, as the musical scenes made up sixty percent of the movie, the mise en scene was often prominent (3).  The first one, sets, is well-diversified and often changed quickly.  As the film takes place at a Hollywood studio, one sees other sets--such as sets of a moving train, a jungle scene and a French palace--all in a few minutes' time.  Then, in the memorable "Broadway Ballet," for instance, there are five distinct sets all displayed in a 10-minute segment, each one clearly shows the story of the rags-to-riches character in Broadway (10, p. 11).  The decor and props additionally echo the sets, and as Singin' in the Rain deals with many different periods in time (i.e. the French Revolution, the Roaring '20s, and 1950's dance and movie studio, and etc.), the choice of what to decorate the scenes with and what the characters should hold varies.  For example, in the successful "talkie" made in the movie, named The Dancing Cavalier, excessive floral structures, long gowns and high hairdos as well as a walking cane (for the Don Lockwood character) are all present.  In other, more colorful scenes, such as the snippets from vaudeville (a high-class Broadway of sorts) and the "Broadway Ballet," more modern, clean sets and furniture are used and--as some might argue--people are used for the mise en scene.  Pierre Hobson holds this belief, citing the instance in "Make 'Em Laugh" where set workers were choreographed into the dance routine and they also held several important props (furniture, boards of wood, etc. ) as well (10, p. 5).  The use of people as the decor are equally highlighted in the routine of "Beautiful Girls" as several dancers model different kinds of clothes, and in the "Broadway Ballet" where the amount of people substitute the lack of props (10, p. 10).  Yet, on the other hand, some elements--such as a ladder, rain jackets or a bar--were used to compensate for poor dancing skills, such as the case with Debbie Reynolds, who played character Kathy Selden, in "You Were Meant for Me" and "Good Mornin'". (10, pps. 7, 9).

 


EDITING

 

Like the visual elements, the editing of Singin' of the Rain aligns closely with the emotion and time period of the certain sequence.  The pace is never excessively slow, however--the film has too much to show and include in only one hundred and two minutes--but it is also rhythmical (3).  The rhythm, for example, often comes with the music, for it not only matches the beat of the song, but focuses on the dancer (and then another dancer, and back to the second) in its editing.  Some shot transitions and parallel editing are also included, though I noticed that they are much more prevalent in the conversations and common actions of the movie, and not the songs and dances.  This may be due to the fact that the directors wanted to highlight the dancers' skills in the longest shots possible (i.e. continuity editing), for if an entire dance can be taken in only one or two shots, it shows how talent and perfection in the dancers (10, p.3).  Finally, the only show of logic that could be found in Singin' in the Rain was of a visual variety, and it occurred at the end of the film.  With this occurrence, the camera zooms in on the upper body of Don Lockwood when he is on stage, and then the frame immediately shifts to a billboard of the movie "Singin' in the Rain"--with the head of Don Lockwood on it.

 


USE OF SOUND

 

As the film relives Hollywood's transition to "talkies"--talking pictures--there is abundance of sound and the use (or misuse) of it.  The misuse of sound might be the more memorable of the two, and it is hard to forget the shrillness of Lina Lamont's voice, the extra noises of Lina's string of pearls and Don's walking stick in the initial Dancing Cavalier, or how Lina's voice was switched with the villain's in that same short movie.  The film's other use of sound, then, is a lot more varied and a lot less noticeable.  Singin' in the Rain does utilize voice-over narration, though--which is a feat I previously thought impossible during the early 1950's--and it occurs during Don Lockwood's early speech on personal dignity.  Then, the use of songs and a score is widespread--evident by the fact that popular music was the basis for the plot--and M-G-M stayed true to tradition by recording a full-fledge orchestra with the score (1, p. 154).  Oddly enough, though, while the orchestra was a main contributor in making Singin' in the Rain one of the best productions of M-G-M, its scoring was only recorded in a few days' time (1, p. 154).  Dubbing is also widely used throughout the film, not just with the characters who sang poorly, but to refine the sound's quality and loudness (1, pps. 152-54).  There were multiple dubbings and re-dubbings in the post production time of the film, and many of them were recommended and executed by a M-G-M assistant with the name of Lela Simone.  Simone redid many of the sounds by making the actor's re-record their voices and sound effects (such as tap-dancing in the rain), and she was credited with making Lina's voice higher and shriller, Cosmo's wild actions in "Make 'Em Laugh" louder as well as increase the crowd's murmurs and yells in multiple scenes (1, pps. 152, 153).  The result of Lela Simone's sound manipulation--as well as clever, added sound effects, such as using a xylophone to mimic an umbrella scraping an iron fence--is the final movie that is so loved today, Singin' in the Rain (1, p. 153).

 


QUOTATIONS FROM FILM

 

  • Kathy and Don have a rather negative (yet hilarious) first impression as he jumps into her car to get away from some violent, screaming fans.  After she learns that he is an actor, and insults his profession by declaring that if one sees one movie, then they have seen them all, the dialogue continues:

 

"Don: What's your lofty mission in life that lets you sneer at my humble profession?

Kathy: I'm an actress.

Don: What?

Kathy: On the stage.

Don: Oh, on the stage. Well, I'd like to see you act. What are you in right now? I could brush up on my English, or bring along an interpreter. That is if they'd let in a movie actor.

Kathy: I'm not in a play right now, but I will be. I'm going to New York...

Don: Oh, you're going to New York! And then someday, we'll all hear of you, won't we? Kathy Selden as Juliet, as Lady Macbeth, as King Lear! You'll have to wear a beard for that one, of course

Kathy: Oh, you can laugh if you want to, but at least the stage is a dignified profession.

Don: (scoffing) Dignified profession!

Kathy: And what do you got to be so conceited about? You're nothing but a shadow on film, a shadow. You're not flesh and blood.

Don: Oh, no? (He moves closer to kiss her amorously)

Kathy: Stop! (She pushes him away)

Don: What can I do to you? I'm only a shadow.

Kathy: You keep away from me. Just because you're a big movie star, wild parties, swimming pools, you expect every girl to fall in a dead faint at your feet. Well, don't you touch me." (4).

 

  • Another humorous piece is voiced by Don Lockwood's friend, Cosmo, as he tries to cheer up his friend during the transition to talking pictures.  The light dialogue soon turns into a full slap-stick comedy and energetic song and dance number, and the video (below--the dialogue is in the first 50 seconds) as well as the dance are wonderful examples of the entire film Singin' in the Rain.

 

Make 'Em Laugh - Cosmo and Don 

 

 

(16) Taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SND3v0i9uhE and indexed below

 

  • During the shooting of the silent film called The Dueling Cavalier, things get a little tense between Lina Lamont and Don Lockwood as they discuss the new starlet (and love interest) Kathy Selden.  When the cameras start rolling, nevertheless, they act out their romantic roles and facial expressions while whispering words of hate to each other.  The script goes like this,

 

"Don: Why, you rattlesnake! You got that poor kid fired.

Lina: Thatʼs not all Iʼm gonna do if I get my hands on her.

Don: I never heard of anything so low. What did you do it for?

Lina: ʼCause you liked her. I could tell.

Don: So thatʼs it! Believe me, I donʼt like her half as much as I hate you, you reptile!

Lina: Sticks and stones may break my bones.

Don: I could break every bone in your body.

Lina: You and who else, you big lummox!

[They kiss, passionately, and then, their acting scene ends.]

Lina: Oh, Donny, you couldnʼt kiss me like that and not mean it just a teensy weensy bit!

Don: Meet the greatest actor in the world! Iʼd rather kiss a tarantula!

Lina: But you donʼt mean that.

Don: I donʼt? Joe, bring me a tarantula!" (2, p. 15).

 

  • One of the best scenes of the three friends--Kathy, Don and Cosmo--takes place during the wee hours of the morning where Don is depressed about the poor turnout of the first talkie, The Dueling Cavalier.  His friends, though, are quite fun and clever, and they soon plan out what to do and, later, sing an animated song as well.

 

"Kathy: Why don't you?

Don: What?

Kathy: Make a musical.

Don: A musical?

Cosmo: Sure. Make a musical.  The new Don Lockwood.  He yodels.  He jumps about to music.

Don: The only trouble is, after The Dueling Cavalier... nobody'd come to see me jump off a building into a damp rag.

Cosmo: Well, why don’t you turn The Dueling Cavalier into a musical?

Don: The Dueling Cavalier?

Cosmo: Sure.  There's six weeks before it's released.

Kathy: Add some songs and dances, trim bad scenes, and add a couple of new ones.

Cosmo: And you got it!

Don: Hey, l think it'll work.

Kathy: Of course!

Don: It may be crazy, but we're gonna do it.  The Dueling Cavalier is now a musical!"

 

  • This last example is taken from the ending of the film where the true character of Lina Lamont--and her awful singing and speaking voice--is revealed to the public.  Other main characters--R.F. Simpson, Don Lockwood, Cosmo Brown and Kathy Selden--are shown here as well, and it is easy to discern individual personalities and the overall movie's mood in these three short minutes.

 

Lina's Speech and Song

 

 

(17) Taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ucg0ZLHY5eA and indexed below

 


RECEPTION AND LEGACY

 

The film has received, overall, positive reviews since its first showing on March 17, 1952 (3).  Beginning with its initial reception, many reviewers found it to be a pleasing film, more comedic than usual and, as phrased by Arthur Knight, "a big, bouncy, Technicolored show that has just about everything you could ask of a musical" (1, p. 185).  While the commentators briefly mentioned character and personality--Don Lockwood was considered "genius" and "energetic," Cosmo Brown as "satirical" and "talented," and etc,--many focused greatly on the song and dance numbers (1, pps. 183-85).  The reviews, below, show the concentration and concern on these pieces, and two most discussed scenes were "Singin' in the Rain" and the "Broadway Ballet"'s white-veiled Cyd Charisse (1, pps. 178-79, 183-86).

 

"Musical has pace, humor and good spirits a-plenty, in a breezy, good-natured spoof at the film industry itself. The 1927 era, with advent of the talkies, lends itself to some hilarious slapstick, of which the film takes excellent advantage ... Kelly's dancing is standout, whether in the 'Singin' in the Rain' and other solos; in the duo dance numbers with O'Connor, such as the vaudeville routine, 'Fit As a Fiddle', or the diction lesson, or in trios with O'Connor and Reynolds as in 'Good Morning'. Reynolds is a pretty, pert minx, with a nice singing voice and fine dancing ability. O'Connor has the film's highspot with a solo number, 'Make 'Em Laugh'. The guy appears to kill himself with his acrobatics and pratfalls over a cluttered studio set." - Variety Movie Reviews (18).

 

"[Gene Kelly is] a persuasive figure; he dances brilliantly [and] when he dances he controls not only his own movements but the movements of the camera ... His films dance, and in his hand ballet becomes something more than ballet screened--a dance brilliantly designed for the camera." - New Statesman and Nation (1, p. 185). 

 

Top critic Bosley Crowther from the New York Times described the film as "fresh and cheerful" as well as "guaranteed to lift the dolors of winter and put you in a buttercup mood" (1, p. 183).   While Crowther did not like the plot--which he called shortsighted and disjointed from the title--he did like the title song and admired Gene Kelly (1, p. 183).  He wrote, "His most captivating number is done to the title song--a beautifully soggy tap dance performed in the splashing rain" (1, p. 183).

 

Finally, the white veil dance of Cyd Charisse and Gene Kelly was often discussed, and one Sidney Phillips described it as a painting, "characterized by a visionary, poetic use of imagery, in which themes such as nostalgia, enigma and myth are explored" (1, p. 179).  New York Herald Tribune's Walter Terry went a step further, citing that "the effect is not only visually beautiful but utterly sensual, quite as sensual as those fleeting moments when the pair actually achieves physical proximity ... [they have exploited] that element of space which the camera can explore so excitingly but which it does not always do when dealing with dance" (1, p. 184).

 

The "White Veil Dance" of Cyd Charisse and Gene Kelly

 

 (19) Taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rc16m2B2K1g and indexed below

 

Moving on to the more current, modern legacy of Singin' in the Rain, it is easier to find reviews that deal with the characters, settings and plot of the film.  Many academic articles, for example, discuss the minor role of females and their rights in the movie.  Others go into more depth, technical analysis as one tries to discern why or why not a particular character, costume or issue was included in Singin' in the Rain (3). The dancing, thus, is only briefly noted nowadays, and any citation of the musical numbers always seems to revolve around the "Singin' in the Rain" sequence.

 

"Singin’ in the Rain is so different ...The characters are vivid and delightful, and the romance that develops (amid much bantering and posturing) between Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) is completely engaging. Donald O’Connor could have kept up with the Marx Brothers as wacky Cosmo Brown, one of the all-time great supporting characters; and Jean Hagen is deliciously dim-witted and self-absorbed as an actress named Lina Lamont who’s got a great voice for silent film" - Steven D. Greydanus (5).

 

"Beyond the actual backdrop of an industry in flux, Singin' in the Rain's jokes and light parodies of actors and Hollywood culture are still surprisingly insightful and effective. There's the dopey screen siren thinking that she's in a relationship with her co-star because she read it in a gossip magazine. There's Kathy Selden's (Debbie Reynolds) attempt to insult the cocky movie star with her emphatic declaration that "if you've seen one movie, you've seen 'em all." And there's the brilliant segment where Don Lockwood recounts his rise to fame, telling his fans that he was trained at Juilliard and brought up on Shaw and Molière, while we in the audience are treated to an amusing simultaneous montage revealing that he actually cut his teeth through thankless beer-hall performances and dangerous stunt work." - Lindsey Bahr, The Atlantic (8).

 

An unnamed reviewer states, "The voice of the famous actress Lena Lamont is whiny, high pitched and annoying. This has never affected the work of Lena before, however, since she has been a silent film actress all of her life ... She is beautiful and intriguing, but the direction in this film was used to lead the audience to make Lena as likable as she could be. That is, until the damn suddenly breaks, and we hear her voice for the first time. Not only is it high-pitched and whiny, but the mind of Lena Lamont is not that bright" (15).

 

"The image that everyone remembers from "Singin' in the Rain" has Gene Kelly ... hanging from a lamp-post and swinging his umbrella in the wild joy of new love. The scene builds to agloriously saturated ecstasy as Kelly stomps through the puddles of water in the gutters, making big wet splashes.  The entire sequence, from the moment Kelly begins to dance until the moment the cop looks at him strangely, is probably the most joyous musical sequence ever filmed. It celebrates a man who has just fallen in love and has given himself over to heedless celebration. And the rainwater provides the dancer with a tactile medium that reflects his joy in its own noisy way" - Roger Ebert (20).

 

"Singin' in the Rain" - A Hot Topic in All Reviews

 

(7) Taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uS7eczi9qlU and indexed below

 


FURTHER READING 

 

Books

 

Film 

 


WORKS CITED

 

(1) Hess, Earl J., and Pratibha A. Dabholkar. Singin' in the Rain: The Making of an American Masterpiece. Lawrence, Kan.: University of Kansas, 2009. Print.

 (2) Ewing, Marilyn M. "Dance!" STRUCTURE, CORRUPTION, AND SYPHILIS IN SINGIN' IN THE RAIN." Journal Of Popular Film & Television 34.1 (2006): 12-23.Film & Television Literature Index with Full Text. Web. 19 Sept. 2013

 (3) Joy, Mallory. "Singin' in the Rain." Teen Ink. Emerson Media, n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2013.  

(4) Dirks, Tim. "Singin' In The Rain (1952)." AMC Filmsite. American Movie Classics Company LLC., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. 

(5) Greydanus, Steven D. "Singin’ in the Rain (1952)." Decent Films Guides. Steven D. Greydanus, n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. 

(6) "Singin' in the Rain (1952) – Hollywood’s Greatest Musical!" The Picture Show Man. Key Light Enterprises, LLC, n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. 

(7) Singin' in the Rain. Prod. Arthur Freed. Perf. Gene Kelly. MGM, 1952. Videocassette.Classic Gene Kelly HD 1080p Singin' in the Rain. Youtube.com, 11 Dec. 2012. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. 

(8) Bahr, Lindsey. "'Singin' in the Rain': 60 Years Later, an Example of Film Nostalgia Done Right." The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group., 11 Apr. 2012. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. 

(9) Volkswagen TV Commercial (2005)Singin' in the Rain - Volkswagen TV Commercial (2005). Youtube.com, 17 Oct. 2011. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. 

(10) Hobson, Pierre. The Bandwagon & Singin' in the Rain. Montréal (Québec): KlaXson School, 2009. PDF. 

(11) Singin' in the Rain. Prod. Arthur Freed. Perf. Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse and Debbie Reynolds. MGM, 1952. Videocassette. Singing in the Rain: Cinematography - Crane Camera. Youtube.com, 1 May 2012. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. 

(12) Singin' in the Rain. Prod. Arthur Freed. Perf. Donald O'Connor, Gene Kelly, Jean Hagen. MGM, 1952. Videocassette. Singing in the Rain: Cinematography - Framing & Composition. Youtube.com, 1 May 2012. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. 

(13) Singin' in the Rain. Prod. Arthur Freed. Perf. Donald O'Connor, Jean Hagen. MGM, 1952. Videocassette. Singing in the Rain: Cinematography - Following Shot & Reframing. Youtube.com, 1 May 2012. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. 

(14) Singin' in the Rain. Prod. Arthur Freed. Perf. Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds. MGM, 1952. Videocassette. Singing in the Rain: Cinematography - Tracking Shots. Youtube.com, 1 May 2012. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. 

(15) "Singin’ in the Rain: Music and Sound Review." SWISHANDFLICKS. Wordpress.com, n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. 

(16) Singin' in the Rain. Prod. Arthur Freed. Perf. Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor. MGM, 1952. Videocassette. 1080p HD "Make 'Em Laugh" ~ Singin' in the Rain (1952). Youtube.com, 20 July 2011. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. 

(17) Singin' in the Rain. Prod. Arthur Freed. Perf. Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Jean Hagen and Debbie Reynolds. MGM, 1952. Videocassette. Lina's Speech and Song (Singin' In The Rain). Youtube.com, 17 Aug. 2010. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. 

(18) "Singin' In The Rain." Variety Movie Reviews 1 (1952): 85. Film & Television Literature Index with Full Text. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. 

(19) Singin' in the Rain. Prod. Arthur Freed. Perf. Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse. MGM, 1952. Videocassette. Singin in the Rain. Gene Kelly and Cyd CharisseYoutube.com, 8 Oct. 2007. Web. 22 Sept. 2013.

(20) Ebert, Robert. "Singin' in the Rain." Robert Ebert.com. Ebert Digital LLC, 18 June 1998. Web. 22 Sept. 2013.

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