Directed by Stanley Donen
Written by Adolph Green & Betty Comden
Will Most Likely Contain Spoilers
There has not been one single disappointment in this entire marathon, and Gene Kelly and company are no exception. Or maybe they are an exception. An exception in that fact that they act like nobody else in this marathon, talk like no one else, perform like no one else, tell jokes, and most assuredly dance and sing like no one else. Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds are all exceptions. Exceptions to the hum-drum world and the single threat. All of these actors are triple threats and every single one of them make this a great film with everything they do in it. I always says musicals are not really my thing, but I think I used to say that because I had not seen many. After seeing a few and now the ever so famous Singin’ in the Rain, I would say that musicals might be my thing. They are just so much fun.
The story is about two silent film stars of the screen, Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen). They are a big pair and star together all of the time. The film studio they work for, Monumental Pictures, has fabricated a story that they have moved their on-screen romance to the real world, a concept embraced by Lina, but not by Don. At an after party of one of their premiers, the concept of the “talkie” is presented, only problem is Lina Lamont has a horrible speaking voice, and is a little stupid to boot. While at this party, Don bumps into somebody that helped him escape a mob situation earlier in the film by giving him a lift in her car. What is special about this girl, Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), is that she can sing and dance too, but puts Don’s self-esteem into question by proclaiming that silent film stars are not real actors, only stars of the stage are the real actors. In order to compete with the “talkie” boom, Monumental Studios makes the next Lockwood and Lamont film a talkie, but it is horrendous at a pre-screening. Lockwood and longtime buddy Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor) rework the story and make it into a modern musical, with the part of Lina Lamont being dubbed over by the lovely Kathy without Lina knowing about it. The resulting film is ‘The Dancing Cavalier’ , a major hit. But when Lina is asked to give a speech for the audience and sing a song for them, she is laughed at when the curtain is raised behind her for everyone to see Kathy singing for her. Her career is over, as it should be given her ridiculous behavior and lack of talent. Kathy and Don are the stars now, and their love is just beginning to blossom.
It really is a lovely story, and amazing to think they developed it around the idea of the songs, all of which were written before the rest of the script. Every single musical number was awesome though. The dancing and singing talents of the cast were great. Gene Kelly is the man, plain and simple. The man can do it all and even in his “silent film” acting he was not only great, but hilarious too. I know it is known for the great dance numbers, but the acting and some of the dialogue make this one of the best comedies ever too I think. The opening sequence where Don is talking about how he came to be such a star is really funny. Pretty much everything he says contradicts what we are seeing on screen to be the reality and the stunt sequences are probably the best part of that. But as great as Gene Kelly is, I think my favorite sequence was the “Make ’em Laugh” number by Donald O’Connor. And the sequence with the dialect coach would probably be a second.
The look of the film was great too. Especially the set design, those sets were awesome! I wish I could go walk around on them today, especially the one in the Broadway sequence where it dissolves from the night club to a great big open room with the girl having an extremely long scarf, just awesome. I may have had more fun with this one than with any of the other films in this short marathon. It certainly lived up to the hype and I think letting it settle before doing this write-up made me appreciate it that much more. Will be in serious serious contention when I make my revised Top 100 at some point later this year. It might even climb higher than I expect, especially with a rewatch or two, which are certain to come at this point.