Singin’ in the Rain

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Hollywood found inspiration in its own past for this exuberant 1952 musical comedy, a toe-tapping blast of pure cinematic fun that today routinely tops critical and popular lists as one of the greatest of the genre. Singin’ in the Rain is set in 1927 Tinseltown, as silent films are nervously making way for the talkies. Gene Kelly plays matinee idol Don Lockwood, as good with the ol’ soft shoe as he is with a swashbuckler’s sword, whose motto is “Dignity, always dignity,” despite a background of menial and demeaning jobs. Jean Hagen is hilarious as the vain, jealous Lina Lamont, Lockwood’s obnoxious onscreen love interest, whose strangulated shriek of a speaking voice bodes ill for her career in “talking pictures.” Ducking out on his leading lady, Lockwood accidentally encounters a bright-eyed stage actress (Debbie Reynolds) whom he instantly falls for, and much romantic misunderstanding, cake throwing, and memorable music-making ensue. The legendary musical numbers include Donald O’Connor’s bogglingly acrobatic “Make ‘Em Laugh,” the modernist “Broadway Melody,” and that most iconic of solo numbers, Kelly’s rapturous, rain-soaked performance of the title number, miraculously achieved though the actor had a 103-degree fever at the time. Filled with a joyful sense of spontaneous, devil-may-care delirium, Singin’ in the Rain is an enduring favorite from Hollywood’s Golden Age. (Dir. by Stanley Donen, 1952, USA, 103 mins., Not Rated) Digital