Singin’ in the Rain
While I’m not the greatest fan of musicals, I don’t particularly have anything against them either. I can appreciate the choreography, and (if they’re decent) the tunes, but usually the stop-start construction of the stories themselves fails to engage me. There are notable exceptions (How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying is one) and very much in the favour of this Gene Kelly starrer (which he co-directed) is that it has a really solid plot to sink its teeth into, essentially starting with the same premise as The Artist. Here, a disastrous first talkie featuring Kelly’s Don Lockwood is turned into a massive hit by adding a few all-singing, all-dancing numbers.
Kelly’s a decidedly rugged song and dance man, which makes how light on his feet he is even more impressive. Debbie Reynolds meanwhile (who I most associate with her daughter and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) has a good pair of lungs but is otherwise hardly there. The comedy value comes mostly from supporting players Donald O’Connor (more generally buddying up with Francis the Talking Mule) and Jena Hagen as Kelly’s silent co-star, with a voice like a blocked threshing machine. There are some particularly good moments with both involving elocution lessons.
If I was to pick a hole, it would be that with the exception of Make ‘Em Laugh (that incredibly irritating number that’s wheeled out over a montage every bloody Oscars ceremony) the subject matter of the songs isn’t especially germane. I did note that two of them ended up in less salubrious ‘70s fare; the title track obviously, but Ripley’s singing You Are My Lucky Star while attempting to dispatch the xenomorph.