Singin’ in the Rain Review
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A year ago, everyone in Hollywood was talking about The Artist, the black-and-white silent film that grabbed the attention of film buffs, critics, and the Academy, too. But its story about silent film stars struggling to make the transition to the “talkies” isn’t new. In fact, you’ll find Gene Kelly singing about it in his classic 1952 musical, Singin’ in the Rain.

Kelly (who’s credited for co-directing the film with Stanley Donen) stars as Don Lockwood, a former vaudeville performer who’s managed to work his way up through the ranks in Hollywood to become a major silent film star. But, in 1927, as Don and his leading lady, Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen), start work on their latest picture, though, the winds of change are beginning to blow. The first talking picture, The Jazz Singer, has just been released—and its overwhelming success sends studios racing to give audiences more.

  
 
When the latest Lockwood and Lamont picture is turned into a talking picture, it poses a serious problem—because Lina’s voice is loud and shrill, and she generally sounds ridiculous. So Don turns to his long-time musical partner, Cosmo (Donald O’Connor), and his new love, Kathy (Debbie Reynolds), for help.

It may be filled with singing and dancing, but don’t discount this classic musical as old-fashioned fluff. Anyone with even the slightest interest in the workings of Hollywood will appreciate the film’s insider’s look behind the scenes of old Hollywood, where flaws are carefully concealed, romances are concocted for publicity’s sake, and nothing is quite as it seems. The film also offers an interesting look at the industry shake-up that took place with the release of The Jazz Singer—and how careers were made or destroyed based on a whole new criteria.

Of course, that’s not to say that Singin’ in the Rain is a serious drama about the struggle to make it in Hollywood in the ‘20s. With its comedic characters and its lively song-and-dance numbers, it’s playful and fun, with a sometimes campy, slap-sticky sense of humor that often gives the film an almost vaudevillian feel.

The main characters, meanwhile, are irresistibly charming. Though Lina, the jealous (and surprisingly shrewd) starlet, is far from lovable, she gets plenty of resistance from cluelessly egotistical Don and his down-to-earth yet somewhat stubborn sweetheart, Kathy. And, together with the catchy musical numbers and the vibrant Technicolor touches, the lovable characters make Singin’ in the Rain a musical classic that’s worth replaying time and time again.


DVD Review:
If you want to add Singin’ in the Rain to your movie library, you can pick up a copy of the recently-released 60th Anniversary Edition—or you can invest in the new box-set, Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collection: Musicals. The collection contains some outstanding musicals—from 1927’s groundbreaking The Jazz Singer to 1988’s Hairspray, with other favorites like The Wizard of Oz, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Viva Las Vegas, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in between.

Meanwhile, instead of including a bunch of bare-bones discs, this set includes full releases of the films—and each one comes with its own special features. Singin’ in the Rain, for instance, includes a commentary, trailers, and plenty of other background information.

My only complaint is with the format: DVD instead of Blu-ray. Since I made the transition to Blu-ray years ago, I’d prefer to pick up the collection in the latest format instead of having to upgrade again later. But if you’re not as snobbish as I am about your film library, you won’t want to miss this remarkable collection. It’s sure to keep you singin’ and dancin’ through the rainiest of days.

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