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USA 1952
Directed by
Stanley Donen / Gene Kelly
102 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Singin' In The Rain

Regularly over-hyped as the greatest musical ever made, although not a huge commercial or critical success in its day, Singin' In The Rain is a very enjoyable film once one gives oneself up to its gay, in the old-fashioned sense of the word, romanticism.

Both in terms of choreography and songs it offers many pleasures from the iconic title number to Donald O'Connor's exuberant comedy number "Make 'Em Laugh" to the big "Broadway" production number.  Originally made in three-strip Technicolor process it is wonderfully colourful film made to capitalize on the success of An American In Paris, which also starred Kelly and had the same director, Stanley Donen (Kelly who did the choreography gets a co-director credit).

Kelly plays Don Lockwood, a silent screen star who together with Nina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are two of the biggest stars of the Twenties. However with the arrival of sound Nina's nasal twang is completely unusable. So Don and his piano-playing off-sider, Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor) hatch a plan to turn the movie that they are making into a musical, dubbing Nina's voice with that of Don's girlfriend, Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds in her first major screen role). The strategy is a huge success but Nina is determined to make sure not only that Kathy gets no credit but that she continues "ghosting". The boys are not about to let that happen

Whilst it has an original amusing screenplay by Adolph Green and Betty Comden that has a lot of fun with '20s Hollywood and the movie-making process  as a musical it is a bit of old-fashioned pastiche. This is hardly surprising as the songs by Nacio Herb Brown and the folm's producer, Arthur Freed, were largely lifted from earlier productions.  "Singin' in the Rain", which is credited as the film's "inspiration" comes from Hollywood Review Of 1929, "You Were Meant For Me" from Broadway Melody of 1929", and "Beautiful Girl" from the 1933 Bing Crosby musical, Going Hollywood and even "Make 'Em Laugh" which is simply a re-working of Cole Porter's "Be A Clown" feel like they have been shoe-horned into the narrative rather than grown organically from it and helping to move it along  (the "Broadway" number is a good example, it is nicely integrated into the film as an imaginary sequence in the film being made by Don but has nothing to do with the story we are seeing). Well done as this is, compared to the more sophisticated productions of Rodgers and Hammerstein that were already changing the face of  musicals, at least on stage, it leaves the film more appealing in parts than as a whole, even if those parts are very good.




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