Even people who don’t like musicals love Singin’ in the Rain – yet it is the quintessential musical, the apotheosis, conceived as nothing more (and nothing less) than a celebration of the form: “Gotta dance! Gotta dance! Gotta dance!”
The script (by Adolph Green and Betty Comden) was written around some two dozen numbers by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed. The title song hails from one of the earliest screen musicals, The Hollywood Revue of 1928, and it was Green and Comden’s inspiration to make that transitional period the fulcrum of their story. Unlike Sunset Blvd, made three years later, Singin in the Rain doesn’t eulogise the silent era, it guys its innocence and exults in the liberating possibilities of sound. It’s an affectionate satire on the foibles and folklore of the movie biz: the vanity of stars, philistine producers and pretentious artists all combining to make something truly magical – at least sometimes.
Featuring breathtaking dance numbers from Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Cyd Charisse and even Donald O’Connor, this film would be considered a classic even if it didn’t include the title number, Gene Kelly’s legendary late night tap dance in the street, one of those sequences that alone would justify the very existence of Hollywood. The film was recently a touchstone and inspiration for Damien Chazelle’s Babylon. In Sight & Sound’s canonical poll, it came in at #10 in 2022.
Sunday’s screening in our PANTHEON series will feature free refreshments and a short introduction by Harry Killas, filmmaker and Associate Professor, Emily Carr University of Art + Design.
Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Jean Hagen, Cyd Charisse, Millard Mitchell
Sunday April 16
Adolph Green, Betty Comden
Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Freed
Also in This Series
Runner up in the 2022 Sight & Sound poll of the Greatest Films of All Time (and #1 in 2012) this is Hitchcock's most personal and revealing film, a movie about male neurosis, fetishism and power, with James Stewart and Kim Novak.
Inspired by Herman Melville's Billy Budd, Claire Denis' transfixing Beau Travail is set in East Africa. Sgt Galoup (Denis Lavant) reflects on his time in the French Foreign Legion, and the impact of the handsome Sentain (Gregoire Colin).
Singin' in the Rain
The greatest movie musical ever made, Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly's sublime Hollywood on Hollywood satire is dynamic, romantic, and very funny, with some of the most memorable dance numbers ever shot - including, of course, the legendary title number.
Man with a Movie Camera
Bottomless invention and frenetic, dizzying montage make this city symphony one of cinema’s sharpest, most exciting experiences nearly a century after its release.
Ozu's most celebrated film follows an aging couple as they come to the city and make the rounds of their now grown children. Busy with their own lives, the children have little time for their parents, who are quickly packed off to hot springs in Osaka.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Based on Arthur C Clarke's short story The Sentinel, 2001 redefined the sci-fi genre. With its radical structure, scant dialogue and oblique narrative this was the first film to emulate the philosophical seriousness of writers like Clarke and Dick.
One of the greatest films about film ever made, Federico Fellini's 8½ (Otto e mezzo) turns one man's artistic crisis into a grand epic of the cinema.
Brunette Rita (Laura Elena Harring) wanders Mulholland Drive, dazed and confused after an auto accident. She finds refuge with Betty (Naomi Watts), an aspiring blonde actress who has arrived from Deep River, Ontario, with her innocence intact.
In the Mood for Love
Wong Kar-wai's most popular film is a love story about two neighbours (Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung) who are drawn together by the long absences of their respective spouses.
In Abbas Kiarostami's self-reflexive non-fiction narrative feature, Sabzian, an illiterate film buff who passed himself off as the Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf plays himself in reconstructions of his fraud.
Orson Welles's debut was the most sophisticated movie to come out of the Hollywood studio system to that time, and opened up the creative possibilities of the narrative feature film for generations. For nearly 50 years it was "the best ever made".