No 8 - Singin' in the Rain
Director - Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen
After watching The Red Shoes yesterday, Phil and I decided that we were up for a more jolly, more wholesome, more funny film about dancing. So, from the depths of my DVD collection came this beautiful MGM Gem.
Every time I watch a Technicolor film, the vibrancy and beauty astound me. I wish gritty realism hadn't won out in the end (a pining that I also share for the GTA series of games) and everything could keep looking so full of glory and splendour.
The other thing that this film brings to mind is the art of prat falling. This film has some amazing fooling about in it, and there is an unprecedented amount of skill and grace needed in order to successfully look like an unskilled clumsy oaf.
There are very few actors, if any, that I can think of that would be able to truly embrace the notion of making a twat of yourself. But in Donald O' Connor there is a truly amazing physical comedian. It is not just the superb prat falling (see Make 'em Laugh for what might be the best bit of prat falling on celluloid) but O'Connor's excellent facial comedy and general timing just mean that he steals every scene he is in.
It is almost like he has no bones in his body. And instead of a skeleton he is being held up by 20,000 volts of electricity running through his rubbery limbs. Not the neatest analogy in the world but I think it just about holds it's own.
I would quite like to see what other films he is in, I will investigate.
In fact it seems that actors were much happier embracing the tomfoolery of the vaudeville show. Special kudos to Gene Kelly who seemed to have it all. He is a handsome chappy, who can quite happily pull off the part of a leading man, a heart throb. On top of that, he can sing, he can dance (a variety of dances), he can tap, he can act. Oh.... and he co-directed this film.
You can see why he was such a big name in the old days. He is a truly fascinating character. What is really impressive is how he flits from each of these. He can be an effortlessly smooth one second, entertaining a swarm of adoring fans. The next moment he is in a garish theatre outfit twitting about with a violin. The fact that this transition is essentially seamless and that the same characteristics shine through in both moments show just how versatile Gene Kelly is.
If you think of the number of celebrities these days who get by playing the same character in all films (this is a lot of actors, even ones I really like) you'll see just how much Kelly crams into one role.
Whilst we're discussing the cast. Let me discuss the final of the three main roles. The delightful Debbie Reynolds. When she gets into her singing, she is so adorable. In a time when 'sweet innocence' is packaged into annoying drivel by Disney it is so refreshing to watch a film of yore where one of the leads is just cute. Very lovely and very cute. She is so endearing there is no questioning why Gene Kelly's character falls for her...
But.... what of the film itself? There must be a reason it is rated so highly in the top 500, and it can't just be because of the quality of the cast (after all, they did a lot of films together).... luckily the story is inspired genius.
Telling the tale of 2 actors (Gene Kelly and Jean Hagen) from the silent era who try to survive the transition into Talkies. The comedy comes from Jean Hagen (who looks exceptionally glamorous) and who has the best 'made for silent cinema' voice I have ever seen.
Her story, the story of Reynolds (as her 'voice replacement') and the story of Kelly and O' Connor mix so brilliantly together. The characters are all so wonderful and lovable (even Hagen, who is just a megalomaniac idiot, but adorable with it) and the story so exquisite and the songs and dances are show stopping.
Just watch it.....
You'll thank me for it.
Then you can get down to the Mint Royale remix and the clever little car advert.