Pros: Many of the song and dance numbers
Cons: The story is never really developed.
There are some movies that are almost universally loved, even by the critics. And if you dare to dislike one of them, you can expect most people to look at you like you're crazy. One such film is Singin' in the Rain. And I'll be expecting those sideways glances now since I just watched it for the first time and I didn't particularly care for it.
The story, such as it is, revolves around movie stars during the transition from silent films to the talkies in the late 1920's. Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are two of the biggest stars in Hollywood. But when sound comes in, they begin to face problems. Not only do they have lines to learn now, but they have to deal with microphones and other sound imposed technology. Even worse, Lina has a truly horrid voice.
Fortunately for their careers, Don has some help. His best friend Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor) is an able song man, and he turns their latest effort into a musical. Working behind the scenes, Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) dubs Lina's voice. But will this be enough to save their careers?
This movie is often praised for some of the best choreography in film history. And I'm certainly not going to argue that point. These song and dance numbers are classic for a reason. Gene Kelly's version of "Singin' in the Rain" has become legendary for good reason. There is something so enthusiastic about his singing and playing in the middle of a rain storm. Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, and Debbie Reynolds are truly amazing in "Good Morning." They tap dance so fast it wears me out. But my favorite number was Donald O'Connor's "Make 'Em Laugh." I was truly laughing multiple times during that song.
The acting was top notch as well. All three leads were wonderful. In my mind, praise goes to Jean Hagen who not only wonderfully screeched through the entire movie as Lina but also make her character so much fun to root against.
But that's where the praise ends.
The story just served as an excuse for the songs, and it shows. It's extremely predictable, which I don't mind and didn't especially mind here. The problem is it doesn't allow itself time to truly develop. There are quite a few times that things are suddenly thrust on us with little build up or explanation. Now, while I saw them coming a mile off, it was still jarring.
While the acting is fine, the characters are rather shallow. We hardly get to know any of them because they are all too busy breaking into song every few minutes. Granted, I cared enough to keep watching and find out how it ended. But I don't see these characters as anything other then pieces used to make this movie.
And don't get me started on the "Broadway Melody." Near the end of the film, we are treated to the big production number that will be opening the film Don and Lina have been making. It's 15 to 20 minutes of nothing but singing and dancing and it doesn't relate to anything. In fact, hardly any of the actors from the rest of the film are in it. While I like song and dance numbers just as much as the next musical lover, I like them to be in some way related to the story. This one takes up too much time without developing anything. I was bored long before it was over and ready to get back to what little story there was.
So there you have it, the reasons why Singin' in the Rain will never be on my list of best musicals. Many of these songs are truly classics as performed here. But a movie needs to be more then a collection of songs, and that's where this one falls apart.
This review is part of the National Library Week Write-Off because I borrowed this from a library to watch. Yes, your local library has videos and DVD's. It might not be a big selection, but it is worth checking out because it is a great way to catch up on movies you may have missed for the great low price of free.