Had I seen it before: No. Well, maybe? I remember clips of this being on when I was too young to really make sense of a whole movie. But this was basically the first time.
Directors: Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly
Writers: Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Where you can stream it now: HBO Max
What IMDb says: A silent film production company and cast make a difficult transition to sound.
Why I picked it: At the beginning of the month, I really set out to see a fair number of those movies I really should’ve seen by now. Somewhere a long the line, that devolved into movies like Passport to Paris and Center Stage, which are fun in their own way, but I was determined to break that streak and get back on track. Enter Singin’ in the Rain, a movie I’ve really been meaning to watch for a while. I have no excuse for taking this long.
What I liked: I LOOOVVE all the great dancing. I expect as much from a Gene Kelly movie, because for some reason I have distinct memories of loving Gene Kelly despite no real memories of any one particular Gene Kelly movie. The choreography is always great, and oftentimes takes advantage of the unique settings of each number (oftentimes a Hollywood soundstage).
Yet at the same time, Singin’ in the Rain ISN’T one of those musicals where you just spend any non-musical moment waiting for them to sing. The story is relatively simple, but interesting enough that it was my primary reason to keep watching. In fact there were times when the musical numbers, as much fun as they are, felt a tad disruptive and I just wanted dive back to the story.
The transition of the film industry from silent movies to “talkies” is just a wonderful idea rife with conflict. Does the evolution of media render some people obsolete? And if so, how do they deal with it? The general theme of pressure to change with the times or be forgotten feels… well… timeless. You don’t have to be in show business to relate to that. And as much as this film is remembered as a cute musical that epitomizes its genre, I’m not sure it always gets the credit it deserves for its interesting, yet easily digestible take on a universal conflict.
Lina and Kathy are actually quite similar in terms of their challenges. Kathy wants to be a stage actress, but this theater has become uninteresting now that film has burst on the scene, whereas Lina is a star of silent film but now THAT’S become uninteresting in light of the new talkies. It’s the way these two women handle those conflicts that makes them feel so different. One puts her own ego as top priority, the other simply wants to be a part of art she’s passionate about, and is willing to evolve as the media around her does.
I also love Lina Lamont as a villain. Something about the glamorous, Hollywood vixen being a complete pain in the ass just feels like it rings true regardless of whether or not you’ve ever worked in Hollywood. She’s a great “love to hate” kind of character, and the transition from annoying, but relatively innocent brattiness to actively sabotaging someone else for personal gain was seamless.
What I didn’t like: The overly-explanatory exposition at the very beginning annoyed me a tiny bit, but it was easy to overlook that after the film moved on from that. And again, the musical numbers are fantastic, but there were also moments where I started to think “ooh! The plot thickens!” and then had to sit through entertaining but ultimately meaningless numbers before I could get back to that freshly thickened plot.
Will I watch it again: Yes! It’s a lot of fun.
Who would enjoy it: Anyone who loves musicals, and ESPECIALLY people who prefer dance heavy musicals.