Monday, May 5, 2008

Downpour of Genius: Singin' in the Rain

Part amazing dancing and singing, part insanely accurate and ahead-of-its-time Hollywood satire and critique, and part masterful performances from Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, and Debbie Reynolds, this astonishing musical is the flat out best musical of all time. This movie owns the genre, creating hilarious laughs while setting up spectacular dance sequences. Kelly is Don Lockwood, a silent film big cheese and star, who is caught between the drift between silents and talkies, as Hollywood is "learning to talk" and it's the next big thing (The Jazz Singer is a huge hit). Jean Hagen is the egotistical Lina Lamont, who is Lockwood's screen partner who is having a terrible time transitioning (described hilariously in a microphone catastrophe scene). When the film they made "The Dueling Cavalier" bombs, Lockwood, his friend and piano player Cosmo (O'Connor), and his lover Kathy (Reynolds) decide to convert it into a musical with Kathy dubbing for Lamont. This proves for some major laughs also. But the amazing thing about this movie is how smart it is compared to how dumb it could be. It lampoons the whole idea of gossiping and being an adoring fan very well, and very smoothly. The singing and dancing are amazing, too, as O'Connor and Kelly are dancing machines on tons of numbers that are a joy to listen to, especially Kelly's signature "Singin' in the Rain," and O'Connor's almost breakdancing "Make 'Em Laugh". This movie is so all-encompassing, it even has a Fellini-style Broadway sequence that is extremely freaky and outlandish, while still applying many innovative techniques. I was expecting a lesser brilliant, more laid back, more Hairspray-ish musical, but I found a masterpiece, a gem that shines brightly, a movie that deserves the No. 5 spot on the AFI Top 100 list hands down. This movie gleams like the many sequins that the dancers wear and it is a great film, that stands right up to the all-time greats. In fact, it is one. A

No comments: