Singin' in the Rain

I am an avid loather of musical theater. There are one or two strange ones that I like, but they tend to be unpopular, depressing, or basically are just English opera. I really don't feel Broadway-style musicals or American musical movies. They just strike the wrong note with me (hurr hurr). I've taken voice lessons since I was in middle school. I started out with a teacher who let me pick whatever I wanted to sing, which I liked. In high school, I had a teacher who forced us to sing musical theater. She generally just picked all our music for us, which I hated, but having musical theater picked for you when you are 16 and dress in all black is pretty terrible. I wanted to sing Fiddler on the Roof, she wanted me to sing South Pacific. Maybe my history with musical theater music has left me surled. I grew up watching today's movie - Singin' in the Rain, directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen in 1952.  I spent a lot of time with my grandparents as a kid, and my grandpa loved musicals. He loved this one, and I remember him often singing at the top of his lungs along with, or just breaking out randomly into "Singin' in the Rain". I recently had to watch a few parts of it in a film history class, and I was surprised at the plot. It was set in the 1920's? It was about filmmaking? What? I only remember all the songs, which I'm not so wild about now. I really was shocked by how funny and clever the movie was when I watched it again, and watching it all the way through tonight, I really rediscovered this movie. I never thought I would say I enjoyed a musical like this, but I really did. It's so much fun! For me, the plot and non-music scenes are the best and the most enjoyable, but I already explained myself. I'm such a sucker for movies about movies, and this one is no exception. I just loved how lighthearted it was. I came home in an awful mood and I was convinced that nothing could make me smile - but this proved me wrong.


 I get such a kick out of how accurate the film history is. It's so dorky, I know, but now that I get all the jokes, I find it so charming. The transition from silent films to sound was actually this awkward and weird. People were indignant that it wouldn't work. Who would want it? What would be the point? Silent actress and actors were suddenly out of work due to their terrible speaking voices. It gave me a a point where I really could easily get into the story and characters, where sometimes I don't feel that with other musicals.

I thought all the jokes were really funny, the acting was impressive, and a lot of the dance scenes were impressive. The music wasn't always my thing, but it sort of grew on me. I really started to feel the movie after I watched the "Make 'em Laugh" number, because I was so impressed with Donald O'Connor's skills. It seemed unreal, and it was really fun to watch. Some of the songs fell flat for me, but like I said, I so loved the characters and plot that it didn't really matter. I also really enjoyed watching Gene Kelly sing and dance the title song. I have such nice memories of my grandpa belting it out and dancing, often insisting of opening an umbrella inside the house as a prop. "Bad luck!" I would tell him when I was little, worried. I have a picture of him posing under an umbrella in one such time and I love to look at it, and I actually got a bit teary thinking of those memories. It made me really happy to think of good times with him and see this movie again - I know he would have been really happy that I found new joy in it, and I wrote about it, and it lifted my mood after work. <3

Ebert writes about a cool little fact I didn't know about this movie, saying, "Kelly was the mastermind behind the final form of the "Singin' in the Rain'' number, according to Wollen's study. The original screenplay placed it later in the film and assigned it to all three stars (who can be seen singing it together under the opening titles). Kelly snagged it for a solo and moved it up to the point right after he and young Kathy Selden (Reynolds) realize they're falling in love. That explains the dance: He doesn't mind getting wet, because he's besotted with romance. Kelly liked to design dances that grew out of the props and locations at hand. He dances with the umbrella, swings from a lamppost, has one foot on the curb and the other in the gutter, and in the scene's high point, simply jumps up and down in a rain puddle" (The Great Movies, 423). I think everyone knows this scene, but it was pretty interesting to read that Kelly changed the way it was filmed, designed the dance, and really, should be credited with that scene. New respect here, I tell you.

There isn't much I can say about this movie, but it's so fun and cute. I seems sort of stupid to say how happy I was to watch an old Hollywood musical, but I was really surprised by it. It was funny, modern, full of talent, and just light and happy. I don't have a "when movies were simpler!" nostalgia, but it just brightened my mood. It was sort of perfect for me today. I know a lot of people don't like Hollywood musicals and for good reason, but I hope that you check this out. It's worth it if you like cute comedy and film history, or any combination of those things. It's still really funny, and if you do watch it, I hope it puts a smile on your face like it did for me. :)

Links:
Ebert's Great Movie Essay on Singin' in the Rain

Some Like It Hot

The Silence of the Lambs