This brief article is part of the weekly series at Nathaniel Rogers' quintessential movie site "The Film Experience", titled "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" (link here to previous entries).
As you know, we've been participating for quite some time. This week, we are focusing on one of my all-time favorites: Donen and Kelly's SINGIN' IN THE RAIN.
I can never explain quite well what watching SINGIN' IN THE RAIN makes me feel. Far from a perfect movie, the Donen/Kelly masterpiece is still as joyous and exciting as it was sixty years ago. It's a unique and powerful experience, and one that even through repeated viewings, never loses its thrill, its emotion, its happiness - the sheer joy is always there. Always. It's no wonder why this movie is considered to be the best musical of all time and is on almost everyone's all-time most beloved movies.
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN is one of my go-to movies when I'm having a bad day or when I'm sad or bored. It never ceases to amaze me how wonderfully simplistic, fun, cheerful and refreshing that movie is, and after watching it I always end up singing its songs for the next two hours, from the classic "Singin' in the Rain" to the more amusing "Good Morning" or the silly "Moses Supposes" (let's not forget the incredible, physically-demanding O'Connor number "Make'em Laugh", which is awesome too).
Despite being lighthearted, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN is a very original product, colourful, energetic and brilliant in its bright, merry way. Most of my admiration goes to its three leads - the dazzling Gene Kelly, the fantastic Donald O'Connor and the formidable Debbie Reynolds, at the time only 19 but more than holding her own against two industry powerhouses (the little girl sings, dances and acts her socks off). They sing and dance (in spectacular fashion, I might add - some of those choreographies are too good to be true, even for 1952!) to make it look so effortless and easy... Oscar-nominated Jean Hagen's Lina Lamont completes the core cast of the movie and although her performance is kind of a one-note joke (she can't act, she can't sing, she can't dance, she's somewhat dim and annoying), it's still a very inspired take on the dumb blonde type. The rest comes from a deceptively simple but clever story about people making movies and their immense love and pride in doing what they do, even if that means having to adapt to fit the new age of an industry always developing and now starting to realise the potential of sound in film (noticing some similarities with 2012's Best Picture winner "The Artist"? Well you should; it's one of the movies that inspired it). It's a good-humored celebration of this famous transition period in Hollywood that happens to use songs to prove its point that art - and people doing it - must evolve, all the while having a blast while doing it.
As for my best shot?
Well, before I even watched the movie again to write this article I knew I'd be picking this one. It's in the final scene of the movie, when Don (Kelly) ingeniously turns the tables on Lina (Hagen) and rushes to announce Kathy (Reynolds) - who's running down the aisle crying - as the real performer. It's one of the most romantic moments in the movies and that close-up on Reynolds' face seals the deal - it gives me goosebumps, it makes me swoon, it makes me teary eyed and gooey all inside. I know it's a little bit sentimental but this truly heartwarming finale - for an already sensational movie - is just what was needed to leave the movie - and you - on a high note for the rest of the day. It's pure magic that never fails. It's just... perfect.