Friday, March 27, 2009

My Favorite Film

What’s so good about Singin’ in the Rain? For starters, I’ve never been able to spot one dull minute in the entire film. Based on the crisis Hollywood faced back in the 1920s when "talkies" came on the scene, the clever story by Adolph Green and Betty Comden zips along from beginning to end -- with joyful musical numbers enhancing the plot instead of detracting from it. Here are the highlights:

"Make ‘Em Laugh" – O’Connor’s hilarious slapstick routine.

"Good Morning" – exuberant dancing and singing by star trio Reynolds, O’Connor, and Kelly.

"Moses Supposes" – Kelly and O’Connor in one of the most energetic tap numbers ever filmed.

"Broadway Ballet" – the memorable screen debut of Cyd Charisse’s gorgeous legs .

"Singin’ in the Rain" – that famous title number danced with pure abandon and delight by Kelly.

A few years ago, my cousin and I were reminiscing about how much we enjoyed Singin’ in the Rain when it first came out in 1952. "You really lost it during ‘Make ‘Em Laugh,’" she recalled. "I still do," I confessed. Every time I think about the wacky faces O’Connor makes in that number, I’m forced to laugh out loud.

I also still smile remembering Hagen’s portrayal of Lina Lamont, a big-time silent star whose annoying voice must be dubbed by newcomer Kathy Selden (Reynolds). Hagen earned a well-deserved Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her very funny work here. When Lina tells her fans, "If we kin bring a little joy into yer humdrum lives, then all our hard work ain’t been in vain fer nothin,’" little does she care if Kathy must give up her own career to protect another’s stardom. Incidentally, I love that quotation and have borrowed it for many occasions.

Although claiming she didn’t know how to tap dance before joining the Singin’ in the Rain cast, the perky Reynolds holds her own with pros Kelly and O’Connor. "Gene was a great teacher," she told me in an interview I treasure.

Co-directed with great pizzazz by Kelly and Stanley Donen, Singin’ in the Rain wins my vote as the most entertaining movie ever made.

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