Make ’em Laugh


204. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly, 1952) #75 in IMDB top 250

Its brilliant, its special – the construction, the energy and the sheer joy is invigorating.  There’s problems with the film – notably the weird interpretive dance sequence that goes on for too long and doesn’t really gel with the rest of the film, but that is a minor quibble.  Gene Kelly is pure star material, he’s dynamite. Donald O’Connor sparks tirelessly alongside him and Jean Hagen squawks her way into cinema legend.  That’s the other thing about Singin’ in the Rain, it’s funny – actually genuinely funny.  This is the antithesis of Sunset Boulevard, the mirror image.  Dealing, as it does, with the advancement of sound into Hollywood production.

I’m no fan of musicals, I find them to be quite hard work but watching Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain wasn’t hard work at all.  The song and dance sequences aren’t schmaltzy or slow – they’re quick, inventive and funny.  There’s the famous Singin’ in the rain sequence of course (lovingly lampooned by Morcambe and Wise) but my favourite is Donald O’Connor’s Make ‘em Laugh scene.  Such energy and verve is infective.  Like I say, I’m no expert but this strikes me as probably the pinnacle of the MGM musical, a deserved memento from a bygone age.

Note: Singin’ in the Rain is listed in the Neon book 1000 Essential Movies on Video under ‘Musicals’.

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