Singin' in the Rain
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
Adolph Green, Betty Comden
Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Freed
Also in This Series
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".