Friday, August 27, 2010

Weekly Musical #2

You didn't think that I would fall down on the job, did you? I said that I would re-commit to the musical genre by watching 1 musical a week, and I plan on doing just that. Kelli commented after the Week 1 post on Summer Stock that Singing in the Rain should be my next musical... and I thought that that sounded like a great idea.

This movie always blows me away. Its just SO good. Not only the brilliant musical numbers, but the entire movie is top notch (casting, directing, conception). In my first film introduction class, we watched parts of SITR in order to gain a better picture of what it was like when movie studios went from silent era films to talkies. Several folks in my class complained, saying that they never thought that they would have to suffer through a musical in a serious film class. None of them spoke a word after the movie actually started... And I secretly believe that most were closet Gene Kelly fans and were actually thrilled to get to watch him in class.

Kelly and Stanley Donen (director) were very meticulous in getting it right. The movie feels like it is set in the twenties. The clothes (those wonderful shoes!), the music, cars, it all feel authentic and a they aren't afraid to make fun of themselves. I LOVE the actress dressed in black at the party in the beginning of the movie. You know the one, she is seen doing a dance with a much shorter man and calls talking pictures "vulgar". She reminds me of a caricature of Alla Nazimova ( a brief silent film star). I like that they took the time to make this movie feel different than normal 50s musicals. I think that that's why it stands out and stands up to the test of time.
Don't misunderstand me... Gene Kelly is fantastic in this film, and Debbie Reynolds is cute, but me? I watch this movie for Donald O'Connor! He never fails to entertain me. I love his song Make 'em Laugh... I am notorious for watching the scene a couple of times before continuing on with the rest of the movie. O'Connor's silly faces are so adorable! He was also a great dance partner for Kelly. You can tell that he was a dancer in his own right because he keeps perfect pace with Kelly's dance sequences; for example, in Moses Supposes (My FAVORITE song in SITR) you can see that Kelly was able to step up the dance routines because O'Connor was so good. You would never see Sinatra do some of those moves and stay standing!

Cyd Charisse is also gorgeous in this... I LOVE her clothes. She dances a few times in Gene Kelly's Broadway number, but the woman packs a wallop! Her dance with Kelly in the speakeasy is so sexy, and that green dress is magnificent! The woman was all legs! Their physical chemistry was spot on and watching that routine always leaves me a little speechless.... When she cleans off Kelly's glasses on her thigh.... talk about steamy!

I only have one complaint (*Gasp*) There was one song cut out of the movie that I would have love to have seen. There is a recording of Reynolds singing Lucky Star to Kelly that was cut from the film. There is a reprise of the song at the end of the movie when Kelly is singing to Reynolds and again in the last frame of the picture when the two are kissing in front of a billboard. I love Reynolds recording, it is so pretty and I think that the reprise would have meant so much more to the movie if they had kept it in.

Stanley Donen did an interview with Robert Osbourne on TCM and he recounts his experience working on SITR. He talked about how they achieved Kelly's title song number, and I thought it was neat. They had to cover that outside set with a giant black tarp so that they could fit in rain machines, and they did it in the midst of extreme summer heat. He said that it felt like taking an extremely hot shower for a week straight, and that it was miserable. The effect, however, is remarkable. Kelly singing and dancing in an early morning rain is completely euphoric. He is singing about being at the height of love and happiness... It is such a wonderful song..
I love this film. I could watch it anywhere, anytime. It is such a perfect movie.
Singing in the Rain is a must, not just for musical fans, but die hard classic film buffs everywhere.
So... Any suggestions for Week 3?


  1. Kelley, Number three should be "Meet Me In St. Louis". It's worth watching just to enjoy the color. Vincent Minelli created a visual delight with that one. It's a can't miss.

  2. Glad you enjoyed it. Funny you mention the reaction of your classmates after they screened SINGIN' IN THE RAIN. The majority of my students, many of whom allegedly "can't stand musicals," are likewise taken aback by the film, characters, and sheer talent of the cast members involved.

    Keep on going... What's next? ANCHORS AWEIGH? ON THE TOWN?