Review of the classic musical, Singin’ in the Rain (1952) starring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds
Singin’ in the Rain is one of the most popular movie musicals of all time — and with good reason. It’s set in Hollywood, at the time when sound movies (“the talkies”) are about to burst onto the scene. And two of the biggest stars of the silent screen, Don Lockwood (played by Gene Kelly) and Lena Lamont (played by Jean Hagen) are holding a press conference. Every time that Lena/Jean Hagen tries to speak, Don/Gene Kelly cuts her off — and with good reason. The audience soon hears Lena/Jean Hagen speak in a high-pitched, squeaky Brooklyn accent. We also learn that she is not the smartest person in Hollywood… Even though Don/Gene Kelly despises her, she believes that they are engaged. Since the movie fan magazines say so.
Don Lockwood’s background
We also learn of Don/Gene Kelly’s background in a very funny sequence. Don explains that during his rise in Hollywood his motto was “Dignity, always dignity”. The audience is treated to video of his real background. Don Lockwood (along with his best friend, Cosmo, played wonderfully by Donald O’Connor) were song-and-dance men … They play in vaudeville, bars and other “low” places. he eventually gets promoted from stuntman to actor. Here he first meets (and later spurns) a very snooty Lena Lamont/Jean Hagen.
Later, Don Lockwood/Gene Kelly meets a “real” actress, Kathy Selden/Debbie Reynolds. She pooh-poohs his “movie acting”. This triggers a crisis of confidence. Don/Gene Kelly faces the truth that he’s known inside for years. He’s not an actor at heart, but a song and dance man. Add to this the love triangle between Don/Gene Kelly, Lena/Jean Hagen and Kathy/Debbie Reynolds. And then superimpose over that the stress of the movie studio needing to revamp production to incorporate sound into the movie … And you have plenty of conflict.
Enter talking pictures
Even more angst is in the wings as they attend a preview of the current Lockwood and Lamont movie, with sound. And the same audience that used to gush over them is now laughing at them. Don/Gene Kelly thinks that his career is over.
Don, Cosmo, and Kathy talk until sunrise. This leads into the Good Morning musical number. Then, some of the conflict is resolved by Cosmo’s suggestion. That they have Kathy dub the voice and singing for Lena.
Resolution of Don’s inner conflict
There’s an extended musical number, supposedly as a dream sequence from the movie (The Singing Cavalier) that the studio is filming. But it’s actually an excuse for Gene Kelly to demonstrate his dancing skills. But more than that, it allows the audience to see the resolution of Don Lamont’s inner conflict. He rehearses his true history as a song and dance man who comes to the big city, with Gotta Dance!, but who gives in to the temptations of success, and forsake his driving talent of dancing. A “romance” with Cyd Charisse is shown visually, along with heartbreak; afterward, another young dancer walks by, dressed as Don Lamont/Gene Kelly was at the beginning of the number, with Gotta Dance! Reminding Don of his true passion, and allowing him to embrace it again.
Lena is not about to be swept under the rug, however. And she demonstrates her ruthless and controlling nature, leading into a final conflict. Its humorously resolved by Don/Gene Kelly, Cosmo/Donald O’Connor and the head of the studio revealing “the real star of the picture”. It’s a wonderful picture, with many great song and dance numbers, interesting characters, wonderfully funny humor (especially with the wonderfully funny Donald O’Connor), and is highly recommended.
Some of the great songs that are performed include:
- Singin’ in the Rain, from Hollywood Revue Of 1929 (1929)
- Fit as a Fiddle (And Ready for Love), from College Coach (1933) (music by Al Hoffman and Al Goodhart)
- Temptation (instrumental only), from Going Hollywood (1933)
- All I Do Is Dream of You, from Sadie McKee (1934)
- Make ‘Em Laugh
- Beautiful Girl, from Going Hollywood (1933) or from Stage Mother (1933)
- You Were Meant for Me, from The Broadway Melody (1929)
- You Are My Lucky Star, from Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935)
- Moses Supposes
- Good Morning, from Babes in Arms (1939)
- Would You?, from San Francisco (1936)
- Broadway Melody Ballet
Check out the funny movie quotes from Singing’ in the Rain — a lot of verbal humor, with a lot of punchlines.
Cast of characters
- Gene Kelly (Summer Stock, DuBarry Was A Lady) … Don Lockwood
- Donald O’Connor (Anything Goes, Francis) … Cosmo Brown
- Debbie Reynolds (The Unsinkable Molly Brown) … Kathy Selden
- Jean Hagen (Panic in the Year Zero, Half a Hero) … Lina Lamont
- Millard Mitchell (The Naked Spur) … R.F. Simpson
- Cyd Charisse (The Band Wagon, Brigadoon) … Dancer
- Douglas Fowley (Mighty Joe Young, Beware of Blondie) … Roscoe Dexter
- Rita Moreno (West Side Story, The King and I) … Zelda Zanders