Verdict: Good fun
What a delight Singin’ in the Rain is, it’s considered one of the classics of cinema and it’s not hard to see why when it’s just bursting with as much joie de vivre as it is. From the opening shots, although it might not be particularly seminal, not nearly as cynical and intelligent as it things it is, or particularly insightful, it’s just a whole load of fun.
Singin’ in the Rain follows Gene Kelley’s Don Lockwood, a pretty despicable Hollywood star, stuntman, and dancer, and his studio’s move from silent pictures into talkies with the arrival of The Jazz Singer.
The good things are many; the songs are great; the dancing is fantastic if, by the end, at tad repetitive with the endless tap dancing; the jokes funny, (Donald O’Connor’s ‘make ’em laugh’ number is one of the highlights of the film); and the characters endearing. The production design, by Randall Duell, (The Asphalt Jungle), and legend of the industry Cedric Gibbons, (The Wizard of Oz), winner of 11 Oscars, is incredible; it’s vibrant, striking and, (at least for the era), the sets never look to… setish. At least when they’re not actually on a diegetic set, and the cinematography’s really nice too. It was done by a one Harold Rosson, (The Wizard of Oz, El Dorado). It is worth mentioning one of Singin’ In The Rain’s 2 Oscar nominations were for the score by Lennie Hayton, (On the Town), although I actually have no idea whether that means the musical numbers or the actual score.
Which brings me onto the bad. I’m not so happy with the gender politics of the film, it might be of its time, but there are two principle female characters, one is an archetype of romance films that portrays women in this very classical Hollywood way, this very specifically nuanced classical Hollywood way that I’m not particularly comfortable with. The other one is the Oscar nominated, note that, Oscar nominated, turn by Jean Haygen, and it’s not her fault but her character is just ghastly, just ghastly, and enforces all these kinds of anti feminist stereotypes that have been keeping women down since Chaucer. It’s not ok, I mean it’s really not ok, and the film isn’t clever enough for you to begin to suggest to me that the film was trying to subvert that because it’s not. Shame on you movie.
On the other hand, maybe now I’ll be able to listen to the song Singin’ in the Rain without thinking of A Clockwork Orange.