Sunday, July 11, 2010


Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are Hollywood icons of silent era. Don has fame, money and fans favoring his screen image. Once he accidentally meets an aspiring young actress Kathy who unlike others doesn’t carry away by his screen charm. “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all,” she said to the star. She affected the charmer. On the other hand studio and producer are worried by invention of talkies as Warner Bros. going soon to release ‘The Jazz Singer’ (the first talkie ever made). Ultimately studio started making its first musical talkie saved by Kathy as voice over of dumb Lina.

‘Singin’ in the Rain’ was made when musicals ruled Hollywood but it’s not just run on the mill musical. It’s a film about making motion pictures and there’s film within film. In light hearted manner it very cleverly pinpointed the early problems faced in Hollywood with invention of talkies. The preview show of the talkie in the film shows the audience making mockery of that early phase of talkie. Watch those phonetic experts teaching dumb actress how to pronounce some common words. The audience laughing out loudly when introduced with sudden verbosity of sound at platter with quite indistinct recording, out of synchronization dialogue and star tantrums. Its period of transition from silent to talkie where song-music-dance comes to rescue and became an integral part of cinema than dialogues in early phase.

Needless to say that the film has some classic songs but its secondary compared to captivating powerhouse foot tapping dance energy of legendary Gene Kelly who not only acted, choreographed and co-directed the whole film. This is my second Kelly film after ‘An American in Paris’ and I must say that he’s graceful artist and an auteur as far as dance and choreography is concerned. Whatever Chaplin is to silent cinema, he’s to dance and musicals of early 50s. Nobody can dance foot tapping pantomime like him. He’s wonderfully accompanied by brilliant Donald O’Conner (watch his wonderful performance in ‘Make ‘em laugh’) and sweet dame Debbie Reynolds…amazing chemistry between trio filled it with life. All song-dance numbers are classic including the title track performed by Kelly and his prop umbrella, it’s the cinematic moment to witness and the father of all rain songs.

It’s a spectacular film absolutely made for big screen- vibrant colorful frames, beautiful studio sets and fine vintage dressing. There’s bit of everything for everyone here- song, dance, drama, romance, comedy and above all witty and humorous one-liners coated with aphorisms …the fun is so genuine unlike today’s films trying to tickle you with futile attempts. The most hilarious scene is one where director is experimenting first time to record sound of Lina with hidden microphone during shooting and mistakes and retakes ultimately ended with a big laughter.

Quite disheartening to know that when released it neither received well at box office nor won any Oscars. Like many great films, later it turns out as ‘King of all Musicals’ by critics and audience. Priceless and magical experience of the classic Hollywood…its films like these which uplifted the status of ‘musical’ as genre. Must watch for all classic lovers.


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