Now I know what you're going to say, some of you at least. "What are you reviewing that old movie for?" Simply put, it's only old if you've seen it, and as the generations continue to be created, I'm betting fewer and fewer of you have, so I thought it would be nice to revisit a simpler time, a much less self-conscious time. Forget about the project you have due today, the talk you have to have with your significant other tonight, your appointment to get your pet "fixed" tomorrow and just sink into wonderful, somewhat (by today's standards at least) cheesy and totally enjoyable film. This is most likely the best music ever, a fabulous piece of work from the fifties and a sharp, witty look at the last days of Hollywood's silent era.
Produced in 1952 by MGM, this film takes you back to the height of the Silent Movie Era. Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lena Lamont (Jean Hagen) are the biggest stars to hit the silent theatre, and Hollywood's most eligible couple. Don is charming, Lena is beautiful, and it seems like perfection under the Hollywood lights. Don is accompanied by his best friend Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor) who is the resident musician for the set, giving Don and Lena inspirational music to create their silent visions to.
But all is not well in Tinsel Town. Lena has a shrill, piercing, semi-brooklyn voice (one that Fran Drescher could never hold a candle to, I'm afraid) and is obsessed with Don. Don himself discovers that too much attention from his "adoring fans" can be a heart (if not tux) rending experience, and dives into a car driven by Cathy Seldon (Debbie Reynolds, in her on-screen debut), only to find himself infatuated with the girl, who won't give him the time of day. Add to this the creation of the first talking picture, "The Jazz Singer", and you have all the makings of a good story at the end of the silent film era.
Now, don't get me wrong, this is not a sad story. The wicked Lena gets hers several times throughout the picture, although she's helped in her attempts to thwart Don and Cathy's budding romance by pal Zelda (Rita Moreno). Cosmo gets his moments to shine out past the shadow of being Don Lockwood's best friend, and our hero discovers that he too is fallible but likable nonetheless.
Directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, this film has become the definitive standard by which all other musicals of its era were compared to. People still, to this day, speak with awe about the dancing of Donald O'Connor in the "Make 'Em Laugh" number, and it is truly spectacular. There are several songs which stick with you for quite a while after you watch this movie, "Moses Supposes", "Good Morning", and of course, the title song "Singing In The Rain" which may make you want to dive outside into a roaring thunderstorm with your umbrella to dance around with carefree abandon.
Overall, between the direction, the performers, the songs, the dancing, and even the story itself (which surprisingly doesn't get lost amid all the other components of this film), this movie delivers a complete entertainment package in one fell swoop.
So sit back and enjoy. Put your 1990's cynicism away for a couple hours, and relax in the warmth and glow of the early 50's optimism, and enjoy this movie for all it's worth. And since this is a classic film, it's undoubtedly an inexpensive rental, especially for a good evening's entertainment.
Rated G, this film is something children and adults can watch without worry, it's truly a good, wholesome family movie, but hey: what would you expect from 1952? I give this film a roaring A+!