Can you believe it has been sixty-seven years since this movie came out? It is is truly a classic in every way, including being on the top ten list of AFI’s best films of all time. For those of you who don’t remember being able to see this great movie from time to time on PBS or on your mother’s or grandmother’s old VHS player, you are in for a treat. A colourful, musical, literally jazzed up treat! This movie is set during the Jazz Age, and in a time when big, big changes were going on in Hollywood. That’s right, it’s 1927, and technology is about to throw a great big monkey wrench into the Silent Film industry.
This story focuses on three people in this industry. Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly), a dashing leading man that makes all the movie fan girls swoon. Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor) a musical genius and all around funny man, and Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), a young starlet with a voice that was perfectly designed for the new talking pictures. Along for this ride are Lena Lamont (Jean Hagen) Don’s onscreen love and sidekick whom he can’t stand when off camera. The woman also has a voice that makes Harley Quinn sound like Susan Boyle, and studio director R.F. Simpson (Millard Mitchell), a man who is always ready for new ideas to bring the masses to the theatres.
We start with red carpet gala of the newest Lockwood and Lamont picture, where Don gives the media reporters a short biography of all the great things he and his best friend, Cosmo Brown, have been through up to this point, and how dignity was the keystone to his success, even though his flashback show him and Cosmo going through some not-so-dignified actions to get where they are. Soon, Lena shows up, and trying to keep things “dignified”, Cosmo and Don answer the questions the reporters ask her. They are not about to let the fan magazines get wind of her nasally Bronx-accented voice.
After a successful showing, Don is mobbed by fans as he and Cosmo try catch their ride to an after hours party. Cosmo manages to break away, but Don ends up having to make a dashing exit by jumping onto and over a passing cable car. He slips off the cable car, and into the convertible that Kathy Selden is driving. Kathy screams at him to get out, and is rather aloof when she realises whom he is. She gives her personal critique of his work, saying that silent film actors are pretty much mimes, and that to be a real actor, he needs a true stage presence, like the career she is in. Don thinks this is cute, and that Kathy is even cuter, even if she is not attracted to him. Kathy gets him home, and speeds off to an “appointment”, and Don thinks that he’ll most likely not see her again.
Don heads to the party at R.F.’s house, and they cast and crew are surprised by the short demo film showing how “talkies” work. An even bigger surprise for Don is when a big pink party cake is brought in and Kathy jumps out of it, and a dozen other chorus girls are brought in to entertain the party-goers. After the girls leave the area, Don confronts Kathy. He brings Cosmo along, and uses the opportunity to talk smack to her, like she had done to him a couple of hours before. Little do either of them know that Hollywood history is about to made, and they are smack dab in the middle of it.
This movie is what is called a “Jukebox” musical, and it features songs from the era that were popular at the time. It also has many bright sets and musical numbers, from the snippets from other movies featuring song and dance, and the classic song the movie was made for, plus the “Broadway Melody” vision of Don’s own design. If you are a true movie fan, no matter how old you are, you will never tire of Singin’ in the Rain.
I give this film a Musing review of