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Friday, October 10, 2008

Singing in the Rain (1952)

The musicals had a great season in American celluloid in a period of the 40's and 50's; and one of the greatest musicals of all time was 'Singing In the Rain' (released in 1952). The movie is also acknowledged to be Gene Kelly's greatest work (with An American in Paris released in 1951 being another great movie). This was a movie that Gene Kelly had thrown his heart and soul into, with not only delivering a great acting role, but also co-directing, and being the choreographer. The movie had some great dances, with the dance on the title song where Gene Kelly danced with an umbrella, with water pouring, dancing in puddles, and generally having a good rain soaked dance being one of the greatest. It is even more admirable due to the fact that the dance happened when Gene Kelly had 103 fever.
The movie also picturised the transition that the American film industry had from the age of silent movies, to the age of movies with sound. This was a major change, and impacted not only the art of film-making, but also had an impact on the film stars of the silent era. Singing in the Rain captures the transition of some of the stars, while others failed to make the transition, and also heralded the appearance of new stars who were more suited for the sound era.

Singing in the Rain (1952) (starring Gene Kelly)

The movie is about a popular star of the silent era, Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly). He has risen through the industry while doing all sort of jobs, and is now the leading star. His leading lady is Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen); Don cannot stand Lina, while she feels that they have an ongoing romance (something created by the studio for more publicity). Once, Don gets to suddenly meet a lady Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) (he jumped into her car to escape from some fans); and after some initial back-and-forth, they start falling into love.
However, there is a major disturbance - a new talking film called 'The Jazz Singer' has been released by a rival studio and becomes a success. This forces a change of plans, with the studio boss R.F. Simpson (Millard Mitchell) deciding to convert the upcoming Don - Lina film into a talkie. However, it wasn't so easy, and they eventually decide to get Kathy to dub for Lina, and to make the movie into a musical. Lina does not like Kathy and her romance with Don, and makes sure that Kathy cannot get screen credit for her voice-over; however, in the premiere, after some delay, the inevitable happens. It is revealed that Kathy is the voice, and also the upcoming star.

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