“Moses supposes his toeses are roses, but Moses supposes erroneously. Moses he knowses his toeses aren’t roses as Moses supposes his toeses to be.”
‘Singin’ in the Rain’, directed and choreographed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen in 1952, is an American musical starring Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds. Kelly plays Don Lockwood, a silent movie star who partners with a vain leading lady, Lina Lamont, played by the real star of the movie Jean Hagen. When the decision is made to make the next movie a talkie, the producers run into a problem – Lamont has a horrible speaking voice and can’t sing. Fortunately, Lockwood has met and fallen in love with an aspiring actress called Kathy Selden, played by Deynolds, who agrees, reluctantly, to be Lamont’s ‘voice’. Clearly the most notable moments in this movie are the musical and dancing scenes. The central sequence, in which Lockwood happily splashes in puddles whilst singin’ the title song is justifiably famous and has become so iconic that is has almost become a cultural artefact on its own. Even better than this though is a fantasy sequence of Kelly and Reynolds dancing on a soundstage, with Reynold’s dress floating ethereally over and around Kelly. The film is packed with memorable and unbelievably precisely choreographed scenes. All this masks the power of the performances and the comedy however. The chemistry between Kelly and Reynolds is exceptional, but the scenes between Kelly and Hagen are then ones that give the film personality. As with ‘Footlight Parade’, this is as much about the conflict between the spectacle and mime-like expressionism of the silent movie and the in-your-face literalism of the talkie. The solution presented here, as with the earlier film, is to make a movie in which movement and sound coalesce – in other words, a dance musical.
Would I recommend it? Of course I would. It’s a perfectly pitched, warm hearted film with great dance scenes, a set of charismatic leading performances and genuinely funny moments. Watch with ‘Footlight Parade’ for the reasons given above.