Monday, April 13, 2009

The Great Movies: "Singin' in the Rain"

Singin' in the Rain
Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen, 1952.

Singin' in the Rain is a 1952 movie set in the late 1920s that has maintained a surprising freshness into 2008. In vivid color (I had expected black and white for some reason), it feels like it could have been made... well, not exactly yesterday, but perhaps in the 1970s or something. It is a spoof of the song-and-dance spectaculars of the early talkies that manages to have its cake and eat it too, effectively skewering the nonsensicality and cheesiness of the genre while wallowing in the same sort of stuff in a highly entertaining fashion. It's ironic, so it's cool.

Plot: Not much, really. The plot is a thin contrivance on which to hang singing and dancing numbers. It goes like this: as the silents give way to the talkies, what will be the fate of the glamerous but squeaky-voiced leading lady? Why, she'll be replaced by the leading man's new girlfriend, of course! The conclusion teaches us the timeless lesson that if an uppity dame tries to inconvenience you by asserting her contractual rights, you can always humiliate her into submission. Like a lot of cinematic misogyny, it's made worse by being portrayed as jolly fun.

Visuals: It's a dancing variety show, and man oh man can those suckers dance. I don't even care for dance, personally, but I still found this stuff pretty entertaining. You also get a sense that the cast was enjoying themselves -- everything has that happy glow to it. But maybe they were just acting. [UPDATE: Apparently they were just acting. Sez here that the leads didn't get along at all, and that production was something of a nightmare.]

Dialog: Some pretty funny lines, and some real groaners. Fewer startling moments once you realize that they are saying "hoofer," meaning "professional dancer," and not "hooker."

Prognosis: This should be a fun movie for anyone who can tolerate a certain amount of cheese. It might also be interesting to drink five or six shots of cheap liquor and then watch it with the sound off and the great Tom Waits album "Frank's Wild Years" turned way up on the hi-fi. But that is strictly conjectural.

In other news...

This is the 500th post!

Big whup.


fingerstothebone said...

Dude, I'm waiting for the 5000th post!

Elaine said...

Yeah, this is not Michael500, ya know.

And "glamerous?" Hey, the Comment section has spell-check-- (it lit up.)

Actually, that movie's songs are a lot of fun...and then 16 year-old Debbie Reynolds (no wonder she could dance) was quite the dolly. "I kent sten 'im," a la the star, is an occasional saying around here... and it's true-- more than one silent film star grounded on the rocks of the Talkies. Just not as prettily.

Cartophiliac said...

Unfortunately for me, the song "Singing in the Rain" will forever be associated with the film "A Clockwork Orange"

Dan Nolan said...

Congratulations. As I approach 400, I'm impressed by your quincentennial achievement. Huzzah and kudos!

Ben said...

Congratulations! You're quite prolific! Keep 'em comin'.

Michael5000 said...

@fingers: Thanks! I think!

@Elaine: Life presents you greater challenges, I hope, than finding errors in my spelling. Errors in my spelling are as common as [insert glib topical reference here].

@Carto: Yet somehow, the association of Beethoven's Ninth with A Clockwork Orange is just icing on the cake...

@Ben and Dan: Mercis!

Jenners said...

Well Happy 500 Mr. 5000!

mysterymoor said...

but mose supposes erroneously!