Singin' in the Rain (1952)

[****]

Hollywood’s changeover from silents to talkies is the backdrop for MGM’s most perfect musical, a vehicle for Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O'Connor, who gotta sing, gotta dance. When production is halted to switch the newest Don Lockwood (Kelly)/Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) feature from a silent to a talkie, the filmmakers are stymied not only by the rigors of sound recording, but also by Lamont's nails-on-a-chalkboard speaking voice. "You Were Meant for Me" is the romantic highlight, sung by Don to Kathy (Reynolds) on a nearly empty yet gorgeous soundstage, all colors and wind. The romance is the love story between Don and Kathy, but it's also the act of filmmaking, which the two collaborate on (and consummate). All but two of the songs in the movie were written for movies in the early sound years, and in this way the film is a self-conscious history of the MGM musical. Shot on the cusp of the widescreen era, when movies evolved from one sort of entertainment into another, Singin' in the Rain is a celebration of the grand tradition of filmmaking that was canny enough to know it was also the bell-ringer at the end of an era.
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Reviews by Bryant Frazer
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