Let’s Talk About… ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ (1952)

Film #3 in FilmExodus’ AFI 100 Movies

Every Thursday FilmExodus does a review/analysis of a different cinematic masterpiece from AFI’s 100 Movies 2007 updated list. For a complete overview and how you can participate, click here.

Like most teenagers, I didn’t like musicals. People breaking from reality by bursting out into song and coordinated dance routines was too much suspension of disbelief for my literal mind to handle.

I had no problem suspending my disbelief for genres I loved. A boy being bitten by a radioactive spider and getting spider powers instead of cancer? Hell yeah. A billionaire playboy that dresses up in a bat costume and punches clowns in the nuts? Fuck and yes. An archeologist professor that single handedly takes on the Nazi army and then melts all their faces with Yahweh in a box? Sounds awesome. People singing and dancing? Get the fuck out.

So all of that is to say I wasn’t looking forward to watching Singin’ In The Rain. Not only did I think that I hated musicals, but how could they make an entire movie about a dude swinging from a lamp post? But I had decided to watch every movie on the AFI 100, and I couldn’t justify hating the movie without seeing it. So I sat down already dreading the experience.

First scene, yup, this looks old. Three people singing in the rain. Yawn.

And then the movie started. And it was funny. REALLY funny. The humor holds up extremely well. It really takes the piss out of Hollywood in a way that is still relevant today.

As soon as Gene Kelly’s Don Lockwood proclaimed, “Dignity. Always dignity.” over the image of him playing a stunt man, running into an outhouse that then explodes, Well I was sold.

The characters are so brilliantly realized. Don’s lust for life is so contagious, I always leave the movie feeling so uplifted and joyful. Who wouldn’t want a best friend like Donald O’Connor’s Cosmo? He has such fantastic comedic timing. Not just in the dance numbers, but even in the smaller moments. Debbie Reynolds is so gorgeous, smart, and a pure joy to just watch. And then Jean Hagen’s Lena Lemont. “They can’t make a laughingstock out of Lina Lamont. What do they think I am, dumb or something?”

And that first number, Fit As A Fiddle. I immediately recognised it from Bugs and Daffy, but this, this was magical. I don’t remember seeing so much sincere, effervescent joy on the screen before. All of the dance sequences are each so unique, so expressive, and so joyous, how can you not love it?

I mean, just look at it!

Some reviews to check out:

Filmsite’s Greatest Movies Review:

Roger Ebert’s Review