Singin’ in the Rain

Year: 1952
Studio: MGM
Director: Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly
Writer: Adolph Green/Betty Comden
Cast: Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen

I saw this movie a long time into my film watching career, and I'm surprised I didn't hear it mentioned a little more around the time The Artist came out. It's a similar tale of the stars of an era under threat because of advancing cinema technology.

In this case those under threat before they even realise itare iron-jawed silent film star and a proto-George Valentin from The Artist, Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and leading lady Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen), a shrew who's convinced Don is really in love with her like the ruse of being a happy couple they show to the world when he really can't stand her voice and stupidity.

Instead, he falls into the car of dancer Kathy (Debbie Reynolds) to get away form the paparazzi and is instantly smitten before seeming to lose her forever. While Don and his best friend and choreographer Cosmo (Donald O'Connor) work on their current film, Don is determined to track down the beautiful dancer he met that night.

But all the while a new menace is coming in the form of talkies. At first only the studio chief realises all their days are numbered unless they get with the times, but Lina's nails-down-a-blackboard voice and the vagaries of filming with sound seem to be dooming their chances before they start. And with most of the film in the can, it looks like their careers are over.

But when Don finds Kathy and introduces her to both professional acting and his heart, the trio hatch a plot to turn the stillborn movie into the biggest musical the world's ever seen. And they do it all in musical fashion, breaking into heavily choreographed dance and song numbers that are a joy to watch.

It goes a bit trippy in the final stretch depicting an overlong climactic sequence that hasn't really got anything to do with the rest of the story, but even if you don't like musicals you'll instantly recognise Kelly skipping down the street singing the title track.

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