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Singin' in the Rain

What a glorious feeling!  

Year: 1952 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 
Certificate: BBFC U Cert – Universal 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly 
Starring: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen  
An image from Singin' in the Rain
Review:

An utterly heart warming and feel good experience, Singin’ in the Rain has earned its reputation as one of Hollywood’s best musicals of all time.

The film is set in the 1920s, at a time of great change for the movie industry: the transition from silent cinema to “the talkies”. Publicly adored actors Don Lockwood (Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Hagen) are recruited to star in their first non-silent release, The Dueling Cavalier. However, the pair finds themselves ill suited to new technology, as Don struggles to escape indulging the overcompensating, grandiose habits he adopted in silent cinema and Lina’s unbearable voice and mannerisms, previously masked, are now exposed. Thankfully, Don’s friends, Cosmo Brown (O’Connor) and Kathy Selden (Reynolds), are at hand to provide the miserable Don with a solution: turn the movie into a musical and use Kathy’s voice to dub Lina’s. Don and Kathy begin to fall in love whilst filming but Lina’s jealousy and desire to be heard prove difficult obstacles to overcome, putting their relationship and the talented Kathy’s future career in showbiz at risk.

Much of the movie’s charm is in its light heartedness. It conveys the genuine resentment of the new cinematic technology felt by actors in the late 1920s, but in a fun and frivolous way. The one-liners, singing and dancing are all instrumental in bringing about a distinctively playful and carefree atmosphere. This is of course typified by Don’s evocative singing in the rain scene – probably amongst the most iconic scenes in cinema.

The creative visuals and impressive performances of Kelly, O’Connor and Reynolds create an all encompassing cinematic experience that has rarely been matched since its release. You’ll lose yourself in its wonderful ambience.

Raam Dutia

Musicals have a strong tendency to divide audiences into those that love them and sing along, and those that would consider listening to Geri Haliwell’s entire back catalogue less painful. However, even if you loathe the musical genre you can’t help but like this witty, energetic, take on Hollywood at the start of the sound era.

The plot follows a studio’s attempts to cover up the fact that its most famous female star, Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen), has an appalling speaking voice. Lamont’s voice is so offensive not even a voice coach can help so instead Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), is employed to be her voice double. This leads to many comic complications and the inevitable romance between Kathy and Gene Kelly’s leading man.

This all takes second place, though, to the impressive musical numbers that show not only how talented a director and dancer Kelly was, but that the whole cast was made up of some of the finest entertainers Hollywood has ever produced.

The film also contains some of the most memorable and famous images ever captured on film, Kelly’s rendition of the title song being just one of many, and Donald O’Connor’s walking up walls in ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ has to be seen to be believed. Most of the songs used in the film were not original but it is hard to imagine them in anything else as they fit so perfectly.

Moulin Rouge! may have reinvented the genre of late but Singin’ in the Rain will always be the definitive film musical and any film would have to go a long way to compete with the unashamedly feel good factor of Singin’ in the Rain let alone its smart script and spectacular musical numbers.

Emma Seldon

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Screenings of this film:

2001/2002 Spring Term (35mm)
2010/2011 Spring Term (35mm)
2020/2021 Autumn Term (digital)
2020/2021 Autumn Term (digital)