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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Singin' in the Rain (1952)


This article is about the 1952 film. For the 1929 song sung in this film, see Singin' in the Rain (song). For the stage musical, see Singin' in the Rain (musical). Singin' in the Rain is a 1952 American musical comedy film directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, starring Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds, and choreographed by Kelly and Donen. It offers a lighthearted depiction of Hollywood in the late '20s, with the three stars portraying performers caught up in the transition from silent films to "talkies."


 The film was only a modest hit when first released, with only O'Connor's Best Comedy or Musical Lead Actor win at the Golden Globes, Betty Comden and Adolph Green's win for their screenplay at the Writers Guild of America Awards, and the best supporting actress Oscar nomination for Jean Hagen being the major recognitions. However, it was accorded its legendary status by contemporary critics. It is now frequently regarded as one of the best musicals ever made, and the best film ever made in the "Arthur Freed Unit" at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It topped the AFI's 100 Years of Musicals list, and is ranked as the fifth greatest American motion picture of all time in its updated list of the greatest American films in 2007.


Gene Kelly as Don Lockwood. His performance in the song "Singin' in the Rain" is now considered iconic.
Donald O'Connor as Cosmo Brown.
Debbie Reynolds as Kathy Selden. Director Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly insisted that Debbie Reynolds always was first in their mind for the role. Although the film revolves around the idea that Kathy has to dub over for Lina's voice, in the scene where Kathy is dubbing a line of Lina's dialogue ("Our love will last 'til the stars turn cold"), Jean Hagen's normal voice is used. Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont. Fresh off her role in The Asphalt Jungle, Hagen read for the part for producer Arthur Freed and did a dead-on impression of Judy Holliday's Billie Dawn character, which won her the role.
Millard Mitchell as R.F. Simpson. The initials of the fictional head of Monumental Pictures are a reference to producer Freed. R.F. also uses one of Freed's favorite expressions when he says that he "cannot quite visualize it" and has to see it on film first, referring to the Broadway ballet sequence—a joke, since the audience has just seen it.
Cyd Charisse as Gene Kelly's dance partner in the "Broadway Melody" ballet.
Douglas Fowley as Roscoe Dexter, the director of Don and Lina's films.
Rita Moreno as Zelda Zanders, the "Zip Girl" and Lina's informant friend.
King Donovan (uncredited) as Rod, head of the publicity department at Monumental Pictures.
Judy Landon (uncredited) as Olga Mara, a silent screen vamp who attends the premiere of The Royal Rascal.
Madge Blake (uncredited) as Dora Bailey, a radio show host.
Kathleen Freeman (uncredited) as Phoebe Dinsmore, Lina's diction coach.
Bobby Watson (uncredited) as diction coach during "Moses Supposes" number.
Jimmy Thompson (uncredited) as the singer of "Beautiful Girl".
Mae Clarke (uncredited) as the hairdresser who puts the finishing touches on Lina Lamont's hairdo.  


Don Lockwood (Kelly) is a popular silent film star with humble roots as a singer, dancer and stuntman. Don barely tolerates his vapid, shallow leading lady, Lina Lamont (Hagen), though their studio, Monumental Pictures, links them romantically to increase their popularity. Lina herself is convinced they are in love, despite Don's protestations otherwise.


 At the première of his newest film, The Royal Rascal, Don tells the gathered crowd an exaggerated version of his life story, including his motto: "Dignity, always dignity." His words are humorously contradicted by flashbacks alongside his best friend Cosmo Brown (O'Connor).


 To escape from his fans after the premiere, Don jumps into a passing car driven by Kathy Selden (Reynolds). She drops him off, but not before claiming to be a stage actress and sneering at his "undignified" accomplishments as a movie star. Later, at a party, the head of Don's studio, R.F. Simpson (Millard Mitchell), shows a short demonstration of a talking picture, but his guests are unimpressed. To Don's amusement, Kathy pops out of a mock cake right in front of him, revealing herself to be a chorus girl. Furious at Don's teasing, she throws a real cake at him, only to hit Lina right in the face. She runs away. Don is smitten with her and searches for her for weeks. Lina tells him while filming a love scene that she had Kathy fired. Don finally finds Kathy working in another Monumental Pictures production. She confesses to having been a fan of his all along.


After a rival studio has an enormous hit with its first talking picture, The Jazz Singer (1927), R.F. decides he has no choice but to convert the next Lockwood and Lamont film, The Duelling Cavalier, into a talkie. The production is beset with difficulties, but by far the worst is Lina's grating voice. An exasperated diction coach tries to teach her how to speak properly, but to no avail. The Duelling Cavalier  '​s test screening is a disaster; the actors are barely audible thanks to the awkward placing of the microphones, Don repeats the line "I love you" to Lina over and over, to the audience's derisive laughter, and in the middle of the film, the sound goes out of synchronization, with hilarious results.


Don, Kathy and Cosmo come up with the idea to turn The Duelling Cavalier into a musical called The Dancing Cavalier, complete with a modern musical number called "Broadway Melody". However, they are stumped about what to do about Lina's voice. Cosmo, inspired by a scene in The Duelling Cavalier where Lina's voice was out of sync, suggests they dub Lina's voice with Kathy's. R.F. approves the idea, but has them not tell Lina about the dubbing. When Lina finds out, she is infuriated. She becomes even angrier when she discovers that R.F. intends to give Kathy a screen credit and a big publicity buildup afterward. Lina threatens to sue R.F. unless he orders Kathy to continue working uncredited as Lina's voice. R.F. reluctantly agrees to her demands.


The premiere of The Dancing Cavalier is a tremendous success. When the audience clamors for Lina to sing live, Don, Cosmo, and R.F. tell her to lip sync into the microphone while Kathy, hidden behind the curtain, sings into a second one. While Lina is "singing", Don, Cosmo and R.F. gleefully raise the curtain. Lina flees. A distressed Kathy tries to run away as well, but Don proudly announces to the audience that she's "the real star of the film". Later, Kathy and Don kiss in front of a billboard for their new film, Singin' in the Rain.


Singin' in the Rain was originally conceived by MGM producer Arthur Freed, the head of the "Freed Unit" responsible for turning out MGM's lavish musicals, as a vehicle for his catalog of songs written with Nacio Herb Brown for previous MGM musical films of the 1929–39 period. Screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green contributed lyrics to one new song. 


All songs have lyrics by Freed and music by Brown, unless otherwise indicated. Some of the songs, such as "Broadway Rhythm", "Should I?", and most notably "Singin' in the Rain," were featured in numerous films. The films listed below mark the first time each song was presented on screen.


Musical Songs

 "Fit as a Fiddle (And Ready for Love)" from College Coach (1933)[10] (music by Al Hoffman and Al Goodhart)
"Temptation" (instrumental only) from Going Hollywood (1933)
"All I Do Is Dream of You" from Sadie McKee (1934)[9]
"Singin' in the Rain" from Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929)[9]
"Make 'Em Laugh" considered an original song, but bearing close relation to Cole Porter's "Be a Clown", used in another Freed musical, The Pirate (1948).
"Beautiful Girl Montage" comprising "I've Got a Feelin' You're Foolin'" from Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935),[9] "The Wedding of the Painted Doll" from The Broadway Melody (1929),[9] and "Should I?" from Lord Byron of Broadway (1930)[9]
"Beautiful Girl" from Going Hollywood (1933)[10] or from Stage Mother (1933)[9]
"You Were Meant for Me" from The Broadway Melody (1929)[9]
"You Are My Lucky Star" from Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935)[9]
"Moses Supposes" (music by Roger Edens, lyrics by Comden and Green)
"Good Morning" from Babes In Arms (1939)[9]
"Would You?" from San Francisco (1936)[9]
"Broadway Melody Ballet" composed of "The Broadway Melody" from The Broadway Melody (1929)[9] and "Broadway Rhythm" from Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935)[9] (music by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed) 


For her role as Lina Lamont, Jean Hagen was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The film was also nominated for a Best Original Music Score.
Donald O'Connor won a Golden Globe for this film. Betty Comden and Adolph Green received the Writers Guild of America Award for the best written American musical. 


 Singin' in the Rain has appeared twice on Sight and Sound's list of the ten best films of all time, in 1982 and 2002. Its position in 1982 was at number 4 on the critics list; on the 2002 critics' list it was listed as number 10 and it tied for 19 on the directors' list. Review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 100% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 47 reviews, with an average score of 9.2/10. The film is currently No. 14 on Rotten Tomatoes' list of best rated films. Rotten Tomatoes summarizes the critical consensus as, "Clever, incisive, and funny, Singin' in the Rain is a masterpiece of the classical Hollywood musical." In 2008, Singin' in the Rain was placed on Empire's 500 Greatest Movies of All Time List, ranking at #8, the highest ranked G-rated movie on the list.


In 1989, Singin' in the Rain was among the first 25 films chosen for the newly established National Film Registry for films that are deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation.



Singin' in the Rain is a musical with a book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, lyrics by Arthur Freed, and music by Nacio Herb Brown.
Adapted from the motion picture, the plot closely adheres to the original. Set in Hollywood in the waning days of the silent screen era, it focuses on romantic lead Don Lockwood, his sidekick Cosmo Brown, aspiring actress Kathy Selden, and Lockwood's leading lady Lina Lamont, whose less-than-dulcet vocal tones make her an unlikely candidate for stardom in talking pictures.



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