Thursday, July 12, 2012

Singin in the Rain: 60th Anniversary Showing

“Of course we talk. Don’t ev’rybody?”

            It was a treat to have seen my all time favorite drama Casablanca in theaters for its 70th anniversary a few months ago and it was an even bigger treat seeing my all time favorite musical Singin’ in the Rain in theaters for the film’s 60th anniversary. I have seen Singin’ in the Rain countless times at home either by myself or with friends and family. But there is no experience in the world like watching a classic film in theaters with other fans and to hear them laugh at all the funny scenes and applaud when a dance number ended.
            Singin’ in the Rain is a film I watched when I was younger and, according to my parents, loved to sit through. Apparently I also liked Brigadoon making me a Gene Kelly fan since I was little. The first time I ever took notice of who Gene Kelly was was in the God awful movie Xanadu. Yes, folks I have seen Xanadu and even own it because it is so bad that it is fabulous. When I first got the movie on VHS I asked my mom who Gene Kelly was. By that time he was an older man with white hair but could still dance like no one else. So she told me I used to watch him in Brigadoon and Singin’ in the Rain all the time when I was little. As the years went by and I got older and got into classic Hollywood I rediscovered Singin’ in the Rain.  I remember seeing a photograph of Gene Kelly from the film and thinking “hey that’s the old guy from Xanadu when he was younger. Wow does he look different with black hair!” I can also remember the day I first bought Singin’ in the Rain on DVD and watched for the first time in years. I thought it was a very good film but for the life of me could not figure out why Singin’ in the Rain was the title it was so silly and did not fit.
            I can proudly (and maturely) say that I understand why the film is titled what it is and that Gene Kelly is no longer just the old guy from Xanadu for me but Don Lockwood from Singin’ in the Rain as well as Jerry from An American in Paris and Serafin from The Pirate and several more characters from his great films.
            So much has been said for how brilliant Gene Kelly was and how great his dancing is. So much has also been said for the great performances by Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds. All three of them are fantastic no one deserved the roles of Don Lockwood, Cosmo Brown, and Kathy Selden more than they did. To me no one deserves more credit and praise for making this film so funny and so enjoyable than Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont. I cannot remember my reaction when Lina first uttered a word but now when I sit through it with someone who has never seen the film I always look at them to see their reactions. I have seen this film so many times and I still die laughing when she first opens her mouth and this high pitched uneducated voice comes out. Lina Lamont is one of my all time favorite movie characters. I do not think of her as a bad guy I think of her as a hysterical antagonist. Kelly even said it himself that the film would not have been as good without Hagen playing the role. I read in a great book called Singin in the Rain: The Making of an American Masterpiece that Betty Comden and Adolph Green who wrote the screenplay were friends with Judy Holiday and wrote the character of Lina Lamont as Judy Holiday on speed. Hagen was not a blonde she was really a brunette. She auditioned for the role with a blonde wig from another part and the producers liked her hair and had her keep it. She was also a very good actress and did not have a squeaky high pitched voice. Hagen’s real voice can actually be heard in the film in the scene where Kathy is supposed to be dubbing Lina. Hagen was dubbing for Debbie Reynolds whose character was supposed to be dubbing for Lina! That is one of the best pieces of film trivia ever! (if you would like to see Hagen in other roles with her brown hair and real voice look for her in The Asphalt Jungle, Adam’s Rib, and Dead Ringer). I feel awful that Jean Hagen is never given much attention and consideration for what she brought to this film. I believe that is because she died before she could really give interviews about working on the film (she died in 1977 from throat cancer).

            My favorite musical numbers are “Good Mornin’” , “Singin’ in the Rain (of course), “All I Do is Dream of You”, “Make ‘em Laugh”, “Moses”, and “Beautiful Girl”. When “Good Mornin’” comes on I am like a little kid I love that song and number so much. That is the number that never fails to cheer me up when I feel down.

            Singin’ in the Rain is a musical I can watch over and over again and never tire of. Whenever I put this film on I always feel better and lighter and happier. I always know that I will laugh whenever Lina comes on the screen or the scene where Kathy is giving Don a lift in her car or Cosmo performs “Make ‘em Laugh”.  Singin’ in the Rain is such a perfect musical with a perfect story. I love seeing Don happily in love singing the title song; it makes me hope for the day where I will be happy in love with someone like he is with Kathy. It was such a great experience to see this musical masterpiece on screen and to enjoy with other fans. 

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