Sunday, August 8, 2010

The 100 Best Movies: #21

21. Singin' In the Rain (1952)

One of the brightest in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's array of stars was the phenomenal musical talent that was Gene Kelly. Kelly was an actor, singer, dancer, director, choreographer and then some. His movies were some of the most successful and the most lucrative MGM had produced during what is considered the Golden Era of Movie-Musicals. In 1952, he released this delightful musical which he co-directed with his good friend Stanley Donen. The story (by Broadway legends Betty Comden and Adolph Green) is about silent film star Don Lockwood (Kelly) and his beautiful co-star Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen in a hilarious scene-stealing role) as the movie business is about to be hit by the sound era. There's one problem: the gorgeous Lina sounds like Minnie Mouse (if she grew up on the Brooklyn streets). Lockwood also has begun a romance with a club dancer/singer named Kathy Selden (played by the charming Debbie Reynolds). The comedy is some of the best stuff in the film (thanks to Comden and Green's knack for hilarity) and the musical numbers are enchanting. The songs were written by producer Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown around the time of "the talkies." The strongest musical numbers are "Good Mornin'," a great choreographic gem featuring Kelly, Reynolds and the fabulous Donald O'Connor; "Make 'Em Laugh," O'Connor's tour-de-force number regarding comedy; and, of course, the title tune (which is the centerpiece of the movie). The movie also features famed MGM dancer Cyd Charisse in a cameo role in Gene Kelly's massive "Broadway Ballet" that occurs towards the end of the film. It is a great musical that is remembered for its charming songs, phenomenal choreography and side-splitting comedy (something featured heavily in the next movie!).

Next Post: #20

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