There is no disputing that musical films are hard to pull off. If you’re not careful, you might end up with Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried singing live for two full hours. However, when big screen musicals are done right, they become movie magic. The Gene Kelly classic, Singin’ in the Rain embodies everything that makes musical films so enjoyable. Jam packed with vibrant characters and lengthy dance breaks, the film does one thing above all, entertain.
Singin’ in the Rain tracks successful silent film actor Don Lockwood as he tries to adjust to the new world of sound. From the weak-willed, bumbling studio executives to the references to crazy tabloid rumors, the movie’s plot has deep roots in the Hollywood system. Part of Rain’s appeal is that it simultaneously pokes fun at and appreciates this landscape that it is so clearly a part of. In the midsts of this changing Hollywood, Don meets, and falls in love with, struggling singer and stage actress Kathy Selden. After meeting while Don is running from crazed fans, they quickly develop a flirtatious back-and-forth, and a classic love story is born.
No one other than Gene Kelly could have brought the smooth talking charm of Don Lockwood to life on the big screen. Kelly strikes the balance between self-assured movie star and earnest man in love. He oozes charm in his comedic scenes, but he is just as compelling in quieter scenes, like the dreamy “You Were Meant for Me”. The quintessential Hollywood star’s iconic performance of the titular song is so light-hearted and earnest that if you don’t have at least a small crush on him by the end of the movie, I would have to question your humanity.
Although Gene Kelly’s performance is fabulous, he did not carry the movie alone. The equally strong supporting cast elevates Singin’ in the Rain to its status as one of the greats. Donald O’Connor’s turn as Don Lockwood’s sidekick, Cosmo Brown, is energetic to say the least. His performance of “Make ‘Em Laugh” has him literally bouncing off the walls. This energy is also captured in his quick-witted dialogue with Don throughout the film. Kelly and O’Connor feed off of each other’s energy to form a delightful duo.
The women of the film do not disappoint either. Jean Hagen maximizes laughs with her deft portrayal of the shrill and dim-witted villain, Lina Lamont. Without her comedic timing, her character would have come off as extremely annoying and unfunny. Debbie Reynolds’ Kathy serves as the perfect foil to the obnoxious Lina. This is something amazing, especially considering that Reynolds was only nineteen at the time. Her sweet but strong performance puts her on equal footing the Kelly and O’Connor, making Reynolds one of the most memorable leading ladies in cinema.
Singin’ in the Rain’s entertainment value comes not only from its characters but also from its musical numbers as well. Aside from, “Broadway Melody,” which is a touch too long, each song and dance adds to the overall captivating energy of the film. In numbers like “Moses” and “Good Morning” highlight the skill and talent of the film’s stars is apparent. The vivacious performances leave you wanting to stand up and cheer as if you were at a broadway show.
Singin’ in the Rain is a classic because of its pure ability to entertain. Moments like Gene Kelly splashing around in a torrential downpour exude sheer joy. The film is filled with cinematic moments that can never be recreated in the same way. It has the simple aim of putting a smile on your face and as the credits roll, Singin’ in the Rain will have more than likely succeeded.