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Friday, 23 April 2010

Pitter patter extravaganza (Singin' in the Rain)

Once, while trying to keep my eyes open during a drab history class in school, I heard my teacher mouthing a dialogue from Singin' in the Rain. I'm still in the dark regarding the purpose of her reference but I'm grateful to her for introducing me to the wonders of this 1952 musical comedy. She was talking about Gene Kelly and his greatness and I found myself snapped back from the land of grogginess to that of cinematic excitement. Automatically, drowsiness fled and I was all ears!!! Such is the magic of this iconic's enthralling, captivating and festive... The pleasures almost multiply every time I sit back to enjoy it...
It's not for nothing that film critics all over the planet call this Gene Kelly classic the Greatest Hollywood musical ever.
Unless you watch it, you wouldn't gauge the truth in this statement. And come to think of it, Gene Kelly was not even considered for the main part...Howard Keel was supposed to play the flamboyant Don Lockwood!!! Thank goodness, good sense prevailed...
Gene Kelly is like an institution of entertainment. His performance is so damn wholesome. He is terribly romantic, a smooth talker, a swashbuckling actor and dances like God knows what... When he moves to the beats of the music, it's as if his feet negate gravitational pull. He is so fast, so co-ordinated and so nimble. His dance is so spirited...his comic timing so spot on. I'm yet to come across a performer who is oh-so-versatile. And yes, I'm yet to watch An American in Paris. Sigh...
Don Lockwood is a popular actor of the silent pictures and woos film lovers with his onscreen chemistry with Lina Lamont (a wickedly funny Jean Hagen). The first scene of the film has the flourish of any splendid carnival. Don Lockwood's charm and wit is inexplicable. He knows how to handle situations and makes a smashing entry at the premiere of The Royal Rascal. The first time I watched the film, I kept wondering why Lockwood does not let Lamont speak. After all, she looks every bit attractive and sensible... But when I discovered why, I was almost in splits...
While most find the song Life was a song, you came along, utterly romantic, I find the scene leading to it extremely passionate. When Lockwood rests his arm against the wall cornering Kathy Selden (cute Debbie Reynolds) to admit that she indeed, did watch 8 or 9 of his films, I have a smile on my face...Kelly is so smart and attractive and Reynolds is shy and pretty...The song that follows, (I'm not even starting on the beautiful choreography and picturisation) showers magic dust on this tender moment...
The best is of course, the title track. You must refer to Wikipedia to read all the trivia related to this particular masterpiece. You'll find yourself revering Kelly even more... What I found glorious was the way he conceptualised the track. The way Lockwood splashed about in the puddles, twirling his umbrella and swaying, reminds me of school days when we made good use of any waterlogged stretch while returning from school. He jumps around like a traipsing school boy. The lovely part is that he is experiencing the wonders of love. His dance mirrors the fiesta in his heart and he cares two hoots about what the world feels about his juvenile candour...Cinema can't get any better...
Debbie Reynolds is like a pretty pixie in the film. She is a stark contrast to the verbose foolishness of Lamont. With her exuberant elfin presence she lights up Lockwood's life and helps him deal with difficulties. While reading about the film, I came upon the fact the Reynolds was not a trained dancer while doing this film (she got a flak from Kelly for her inability and later was trained by Fred Astaire for the part). In the film, Kathy Selden is so nimble and dexterous. She puts her gymnastic skills to great use in the song Good Mornin'. She matches steps with the Kelly and Donald O'Connor and boy, she's kickass. In the romantic scenes she is so lovely...She looks like a petite doll beside Kelly's smart appearance... Her expressions are bloody clever in her first scene as she wards off Lockwood's flirtatious overtures with some random quick lies... She is another superb reason for Singin' in the Rain being immensely enjoyable...
If Kelly and Reynolds dance with their body and feet, O'Connor as Cosmo Brown dances with his body, feet and face. Watch him in Make 'Em Laugh and Moses Supposes to believe it...His face is super elastic and his body crazily flexible. He is very cute and rational as Lockwood's childhood friend... And he has solutions to every problem up his sleeve...
Singin' in the Rain is not just a is a cracker of a comedy with quick wit and hilarious sequences. Remember the line where Lockwood asks Cosmo to call him a cab? Cosmo, the naughty one that he, is says, "Ok, you're a cab." Funny!! Also the series of recording scenes for The Duelling Cavalier...Ribtickling to say the least... Everytime Lamont goes "No, No, No", and Lockwood goes, "I Love you, i love you..." I almost gasp for breath...
Ths film is a lovely romance, too. Lockwood and Selden's love story has an element of innocence and charm to it. It's freshness is everlasting...
Here's the icing on the cake...the Broadway Melody ballet featuring Kelly and Cyd Charisse. A prime example of sublime languid motions, incredible mastery over dance and ethereal beauty of say the least!!


  1. yaayyyyy!!! thanks for writing about this! I honestly think it's one of the best movies ever made, perfect in every way. love for Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse...

    Ok, you have to watch An American in Paris ASAP!!! Leslie Caron is awesome too. And then watch The Band Wagon for absolute perfection, in the form of Cyd Charisse.

    Great post:D

  2. Thank you for the appreciation Nan...I wish I can lay my hands on An American in Paris and The band Wagon soon....:)

  3. Here's a delightful piece of info I just read:

    In the famous dance routine in which Gene Kelly sings the title song while twirling an umbrella, splashing through puddles and getting soaked to the skin, he was actually dancing in water with a little bit of milk added, so that the water puddles and raindrops would show up better on film.
    Kelly was sick with a 103-degree fever at the time. A common myth is that Kelly managed to perform the entire song in one take, thanks to cameras placed at predetermined locations. However this was not the case as the filming of the sequence took place over 2-3 days.
    Debbie Reynolds was not a dancer at the time she made Singin' in the Rain — her background was as a gymnast. Kelly apparently insulted her for her lack of dance experience, upsetting her. Fred Astaire was hanging around the studio and found Reynolds crying under a piano. Hearing what had happened, Astaire volunteered to help her with her dancing.
    Kelly later admitted that he had not been kind to Reynolds and was surprised that she was still willing to talk to him afterwards. After shooting the "Good Morning" routine, Reynolds' feet were bleeding. Years later, she was quoted as saying that making this film and surviving childbirth were the two most difficult experiences of her life.


    Great post, again... As delightful as the film

  4. Every time you experience different aspects of this film you will be pleasantly surprised by the stories behind its making...That's the magic I'm talking about...Thanks for appreciating my attempt at honouring Singin' in the Rain :)

  5. mmmmmmmm I love this film! Thanks for a feisty write-up. And what a beautifully eloquent simile "...dances like God knows what" (hehe..kidding) i love the line where you say "If Kelly and Reynolds dance with their body and feet, O'Connor as Cosmo Brown dances with his body, feet and face."

    I totally fell in love with this movie when at one of the Oscar ceremonies dedicated to musicals I think, they showed a clipping of a sternly clad, top-hatted guy splashing about in the rain oh-so-gleefully. Hey, there's one senetence in the movie about banana oil i really like. It says: "Now look Lina, you shouldn't believe all that banana oil Dora Bailey and the columnists dish out.":-P

    "...showers magic dust on this tender moment". sigh! what a pretty pic it conjures up.

    Lovely, magical exuberant writeup.

  6. Thank you oh-so-much Priyanka...your appreciation showers magic dust on my efforts...I'll keep you posted :)

  7. u'r oh-so-welcome sharmi! keep writing. lovely write-ups. only reason i can't comment on most, is i havent managed to see them all.:-( i like ur candid love of the cinemas.:-)