Movies From The Library: Singin’ in The Rain

Will SorgMovie Guy

In 1927, for the first time in America, it was possible for the average person to go to a movie and not only see what was happening on screen, but hear it as well. Early talking films were rough, awkward, and gimmicky, but that did not matter to audiences. Talking films immersed audience members even more deeply into the experience of movie watching. It was a change that would revolutionize filmmaking and completely alter the way people looked at movies. It was no longer good enough for an actor to be attractive and expressive, they had to sound like stars too. It was a time of frustration, new opportunities, and plenty of drama. Naturally, Hollywood has adapted this very specific time period into a handful of movies. It’s the perfect setting for movies about movies, and no film utilizes that idea in a more entertaining way than Singin’ in The Rain. 

This film, directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, perhaps best encapsulates that classic Hollywood feel. It is lavishly produced, with the film going hugely over budget due to the extravagant set pieces, including a third-act dance number that cost over $600,000. Its two directors have a similarly extravagant pedigree. Stanley Donen is known as “The King of the Hollywood Musical.” Meanwhile, Gene Kelly was a legendary actor, singer, dancer, choreographer, and director who was also the star of the film. The supporting actors are equally impressive with Donald O’Conner’s talent and comedic relief being unmatched, and Debbie Reynolds as the female lead is undeniably charming. 

The film was an absolute success. Its seven-million dollar box office was huge at the time, and in the year that followed, the film became widely considered one of the greatest American musicals of all time. Watching the film 71 years later, it is still striking just how timeless and amazing it is. A silent movie star makes a last-ditch effort to save his disastrous first talking film by turning it into a musical. From this plot springs a perfectly paced, immaculately choreographed, film spectacle that borrows all the glamor and joy of big-budget musicals without a shred of darkness or gloom. 

The iconic scene that the film takes its name from is perhaps what shows off the film’s jubilant tone the best. Gene Kelly practically frolics through a downpour as his carefree smile and warm singing voice pierces through the rain. The dancing of the scene is perfect, Kelly’s movement feels almost unplanned and spontaneous, exactly how it should be as if he is simply moved through his emotions rather than carefully executed choreography. That scene is of course one of the highlights of the film, but it must also be emphasized that it is hard to choose which section of the film is the best. There are so many incredible scenes and each one is filled with entertainment, humor, and positivity. It is a film that hits every mark perfectly. A film that never falters in its pursuit of pure entertainment. It is perhaps the greatest crowd-pleasing musical of all time and it may never lose that accolade. So maybe it’s a good thing that talking pictures weren’t just a fad, because they definitely ended up ironing out the roughness of the early ones.