“Singin’ in the Rain” – Nathan’s Movie Challenge, Week 1
I can really get into and respect a great musical. Technically, my favorite is The Nightmare Before Christmas, which next to the Batman score is probably the best thing thing Danny Elfman’s every done. If we’re going “classic musical” though, it’s gotta be The Music Man. There’s something about the Americana of it, the instant-earworm melodies of song after song, and the heartfelt romance of it all…
Before watching Singin’, I was only tangentially familiar with the name Gene Kelly. I knew he was an actor, and a dancer, but to my knowledge, I’ve never seen him in a film. He’s certainly a talent, and the camera captured it well in glorious Technicolor.
The dancing, and the vibrancy of the picture are the real stars – but it helps when everyone on-screen is pulling their weight. From Donald O’Connor making us laugh with his exhausting slapstick dance routines, to Jean Hagen with her wonderfully ridiculous voice and temperament, to Debbie Reynolds making endearing look effortless.
It’s easy to get swept up in the fun and just enjoy the spectacle. The plot tends to go off on tangents in service of the show, but it’s forgiven by bringing a smile to your face anyway.
Singin’ in the Rain was at the time of this review #92 on my Flickchart list of shame (ranked the 195th best movie of all time). Here’s how it entered my chart:
The only entry in the Potter series that I really love – as most do – is Prisoner of Azkaban. The rest, are just kind of – ok. Singin’ is pretty wonderful. Can’t say that about most of the Potter films.
I’m a big, big fan of Mark Romanek from his music video work, so I was excited to see Never Let Me Go from the moment I heard about it. It’s also a great science fiction film that has no spaceships, or aliens, or time travel – just some young people discovering something incomprehensible about themselves, and each other. It helps, too, that it’s chock-full of gorgeous and melancholy imagery, and quietly intense performances from the cast. It wins over the song and dance of Singin’.
Ah… the James Cameron movie written, not directed, by James Cameron, but directed instead by his then wife Kathryn Bigelow, who went on to much acclaim with her modern warfare pictures The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Strange Days is indeed strange, and it’s terrifying, and it’s brutal. It pushes you, it upsets you, and it stays with you. It’s got a weight to it that is incredibly effective. It also wins over the lighthearted romp of Singin’ in the Rain.
Sorry, Neeson. Keep trying. You’re not going to win this one.
“Afghanistanimation” is funny, but Singin’ is a showcase of talent.
Alright. So the Burton/Keaton Batman is still my Batman. This one was Burton running on all cylinders – pulling incredibly dark, disturbing, and sensual performances out of Christopher Walken, Danny DeVito, and Michelle Pfeiffer, respectively. The mood of Returns is so dreary and cold, and it’s a visual feast with wonderful composition and effective arcs for all the characters. I quite enjoyed Singin’, but Batman Returns is winning this duel.
Modern Times is kind of a prototype for films like Singin’ with Chaplin’s physicality telling the story, but it doesn’t quite match the grandness that Stanley Donen captured from the cast of Singin’.
I can see why Easy Rider was well regarded for its time, and it certainly speaks to that generation, but I’m not sure how much I personally relate to its story and characters. I admire it more for its experimentalism and ability to capture the feeling of the road trip. It’s not as tight and choreographed as Singin’. While it wasn’t necessarily supposed to be, it’s ultimately not quite as impressive.
Singin’ in the Rain ends up at #265 out of 1345 movies on my Best Movies of All-Time chart.
Be sure to check out all the other films I’ve ranked in this challenge so far this year.