Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 26, 2018


Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952). Directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly.

Silent movie star Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) has been teamed with Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen of Alexander: The Other Side of Dawn) in movie after movie. Don doesn't particularly like Lina, but she has not only convinced herself that they are in love but engaged. This comes to a head when Gene falls for Kathy (Debbie Reynolds of The Gazebo), who has "theatuh" aspirations but for now spends her time jumping out of cakes. When the first talkie, The Jazz Singer, becomes a tremendous hit, Don's studio insists his latest film with Lamont be turned into a sound picture. The only trouble is -- what to do about Lina's fish-wife screech, which is hardly suitable for sound? Paging Kathy ... but Lina isn't going to take the dubbing lying down, while Kathy is interested in her own career. Singin' in the Rain deservedly has a reputation as one of Hollywood's most memorable musicals with wonderful performances, nice tunes by Freed and Brown, a funny storyline, and a hilarious ending that gives the witchy Lina her full comeuppance. The highlights include Kelly and Donald O'Connor tap dancing to "Fit as a Fiddle;" Kelly, Reynolds and O'Connor performing "Good Mornin';".the "Broadway Melody" production number ("Gotta Dance") with Kelly and Cyd Charisse; and other numbers, such as "You Were Meant for Me," and "You Are My Lucky Star." Then there's Kelly's famous and iconic dance to the title tune. O'Connor's "Make 'Em Laugh" is cute if less successful, and others have noted that the song is very much like "Be a Clown," but I'm not certain which came first. Kathleen Freeman has a brief funny bit as a vocal coach who tries to help Lina talk like a human being, and Millard Mitchell [Thieves Highway] is solid as the studio head, R. F. Simpson.

Verdict: Really a delightful movie. ***1/2.


angelman66 said...

Hi Bill - this is one of my all-time favorites, too, and you have captured all the highlights here. Nice shout out for unforgettable scene stealing character actress Kathleen Freeman, too! "Round tones!"

William said...

I love Kathleen Freeman in everything from Jerry Lewis' "The Ladies Man" to her hilarious turn as the drunk TV chef in "Gremlins 2." "Round Tones!" indeed!