Singin’ In The Rain has been called the greatest musical ever produced. It has everything - great cast, great songs and dance routines and a wonderful story which is actually based on the real life changeover in Hollywood from Silent Movies to Talkies. It is undoubtedly and is often referred to as one of the best films in the history of Hollywood. Two of the musical sequences have passed into folklore for their brilliance - Gene Kelly’s classic title song sequence, and Donald O’Connor’s remarkably athletic and genuinely funny ‘Make ‘em Laugh’.
More than anyone else it is Gene Kelly who contributes most to the delightful, happy atmosphere of the movie and he provides some of the most captivating choreography ever filmed. Debbie Reynolds, plays a version of herself in the film, being an aspiring young actress in real life as well as in a movie, and plays an excellent foil to Kelly. The thankless job of being the only villain in the movie was superbly done by Jean Hagen who earned the supporting role “Oscar” nomination in the process. Hagen also dubbed Debbie Reynolds in some scenes of the film, quite the opposite of the characters in the movie. It is rather ironic, since the script of SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN satirically explored the conflict between on-screen and off-screen life reality.
The film is even funnier for those who are more familiar with the Hollywood history, with lot of references to real life personalities, situations, rituals and, last but not least, very accurate portrayal of the difficulties experienced by Hollywood during the period when the movie industry had to adapt to the use of sound. The movie contains even some scenes that could be seen as a way for Gene Kelly, its leading star, to spoof his own role in THREE MUSKETEERS, 1948 swashbuckling classic.
Made in the time when Hollywood was able to produce great art and even satirically look at itself, SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN is a timeless classic and, over half a century after being made, its appeal is as strong as ever - an absolute gem.
The action of the film takes place in the late 1920’s when silent films were starting to give way to Talkies.
Gene Kelly plays Don Lockwood, a popular silent film star who started out as a music hall singer and dancer. For publicity purposes Don’s Studio has concocted a fake romance between him and his leading lady, Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen), who is not gifted with great brainpower and who has convinced herself that the romance is real. Don, unfortunately, can barely tolerate her.
Don meets Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) who tells him she is a stage actress and appears to look down on his career and skills. Later, at a party, the head of Don’s studio, R.F. Simpson (Millard Mitchell), shows a short demonstration of a talking picture, and Don runs into Kathy again. To his amusement and her embarrassment, he discovers that Kathy is only a chorus girl, part of the entertainment. Furious, she throws a pie at him, only to hit Lina right in the face. Later, Don makes up with Kathy and they begin falling in love.
After the first talking picture, The Jazz Singer, proves to be a smash hit, R.F. decides he has no choice but to convert Don and Lina’s new film, The Dueling Cavalier, into a talkie. The production is beset with difficulties (most, if not all, taken from real life), by far the worst being Lina’s comically grating voice and thick New York accent. A test screening is a disaster. In one scene, Don repeats “I love you” to Lina over and over, to audience’s derisive laughter (a reference to a scene by John Gilbert in his first talkie).
Don’s best friend, Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor), comes up with the idea to overdub Lina’s voice and they persuade R.F. to turn The Dueling Cavalier into a musical called The Dancing Cavalier. Kathy is to provide the voice for Lina in the new talkie, without Lina’s knowledge. When Lina finds out, she is furious and does everything possible to sabotage the romance. She maliciously demands that Kathy continue to provide her voice in all future films, but remain uncredited. An irate, but desperate R.F. is forced to agree; Kathy has no choice because she is under contract.
The premiere is a tremendous success. When the audience clamors for Lina to sing live, Don and Cosmo improvise and get Lina to lip-synch while Kathy sings into a second microphone while hidden behind the curtain. Unbeknownst to Lina, as she starts “singing”, Don, Cosmo and R.F. gleefully raise the curtain behind her, revealing the deception. Lina flees in embarrassment and Don stops Kathy running away and introduces the audience to the real star of the film. A happy ending to a joyful film.
Song and Dance Numbers
The most recognizable elements of SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN are the song and dance numbers. They were directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, both of them in their artistic prime and able to use huge MGM resources in order to create spectacular, memorable scenes.
All the numbers are superb, perfectly staged and some of them became essential part of modern popular culture. Some are comical, like cartoon-like farce by Donald O’Connor when he sings “Make Them Laugh”. But the most important, most influential and most remembered of them all is, of course, a scene featuring Gene Kelly singing and dancing in the rain. When you take into account that Gene Kelly was sick when he made those scenes, you really appreciate his talent and dedication. Don’s singing to Kathy in an abandoned studio is a triumph of simplicity.
Much more elaborate and not quite so well known is the marvelous “Broadway Ballet” sequence with a wonderful guest appearance by surly Cyd Charisse and her “crazy veil,” a 25-foot long piece of white China silk that streamed about her, kept afloat by three airplane motors whirring off-camera. This sequence took a month to rehearse, two weeks to shoot, and cost $600,000, almost a fifth of the overall budget of the movie. Some have argued that the sequence looks out of place in the film but its sheer breathtaking quality justifies its inclusion.
The Movie posters proclaimed “What a glorious feeling!” They were right then and still are today.
Donald O’Conner having fun with a mannequin, a sofa and walls in Make Em Laugh
Usher paying tribute to Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain in a side-by-side comparison.
In honor of National Ballroom Dance Week, 9/16-9/25 - for more info, click here I’d like to show a great champion ballroom couple, Max Kozhevnikov & Yulia Zagoruychenko - This amazing dance couple have traveled the world and conquered it regarding wins and accomplishments. They are well deserving of this accoalde becasue their Latin rhythmic flow is electrifying. As Yulia dances, you can see her leg muscles flex as she move across the floor with a great fluidity and smoothness. Max on the other hand compliments Yulia perfectely as his powerful frame leads Yulia with great control and decisiveness. Max is the yen and Yulia is the yang complimenting each other perfectly.
British Open Professional Latin Finalists, U.S. National Champions, 3 Times US National Professional Latin American Show Dance Champion, Two Times World Professional South American Show Dance Champion and US representatives to the World Professional International Latin American Championship
Currently they teach at the Dance Studio 101 in New York, NY.
Max and Yulia Performing Several Latin Dances
Max Kozhevnikov & Yulia Zagoruychenko