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‘Singin' In The Rain’ At 60

It’s an American classic we may need again now.

Singin' In The Rain. (Universal Studios)

Singin’ In The Rain. (Universal Studios)

Guests

Michael Phillips, film critic for the Chicago Tribune.

Carrie Rickey, film critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Jeanine Basinger, chair of the film studies department at Wesleyan University

Patricia Kelly, author and widow of Gene Kelly

From Tom’s Reading List

Time “A few months ago, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences paid its highest tribute — Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Actor and Screenplay — to The Artist, a French valentine to movies back in the antique days of the late 1920s, when silent pictures gave way to talking pictures. Michel Hazanavicius’ film deserved all those huzzahs, but we’ll have to wait 60 years to see if The Artist qualifies as a true screen immortal.”

Monsters and Critics “Singin’ In The Rain is a perfect movie. It has everything the audience could want and more. The music is memorable, fun, and upbeat. O’Connor and Kelly keep the laughs coming a mile a minute (O’Connor’s “Make Them Laugh” song will have you rolling on the floor), and every romance element is there with the natural chemistry between Kelly and Reynolds.”

The New York Times “Martha Graham choreographed as a way to keep dancing, but Kelly danced in order to choreograph. It’s not exactly the image many of us have of Kelly, whose defining and deceptively casual approach centered on virility and athleticism. He embodied a new ideal of the American male dancer that contrasted with Fred Astaire’s debonair elegance. Kelly’s elegance was carefree.”

Video: I’m Singing In The Rain

From “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Video: Make ’Em Laugh

From “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Video: Good Morning

From “Singin’ in the Rain.”

 

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  • Vandermeer

    “What a glorious feeling, I’m happy again!!!”

  • Hidan

    Always enjoyed the song singing in the rain.

  • Jess

    My sister and I first saw Singin’ in the Rain when we were in high school on one of the classic movie channels, and we had such a fit of giggles after we saw Donald O’Connor’s Cosmo performing “Make ‘Em Laugh”. I wish that they made more movies today that would make people laugh without resorting to grossing out the audience or making them feel uncomfortable. It was just such a classy film.

  • TFRX

    “I’ve been calling him ‘Don’ since before you were born!” — Lina Lamont, to Kathy Selden.

    “She can’t act, she can’t sing, she can’t dance: A triple threat!” — Cosmo Brown on Lina.

    Jean Hagen’s turn as screechy silent movie star Lina Lamont sometimes goes underappreciated. It’s the comic icing on the cake.

    And there’s nothing better to get across the idea of an entire industry just learning to speak than those catchy, simple songs of the period from Freed and Brown. Something as sophisticated as the Gershwins or Cole Porter or Rodgers and Hart simply would sound wrong.

    • TFRX

      (And I’m well aware that Arthur Freed, in charge of MGM’s musicals unit, pitched this movie specifically to use his old songs. Compared to other Hollywood output–some of the musical bio-pics or “jukebox” efforts of the day–that was serendipitous.)

  • lannaanama

    The first time I heard, Good Morning, I was watching my dance teachers perform it during our end of the year recital at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven.  I didn’t know where it came from at the time, but it always held a special place in my heart as one of the most uplifting songs I know.  When I finally came to see the movie, I found that there are so many more in the soundtrack to make you dance happily.  

  • jeff

    I love this iconic movie, but being only 39, when I hear that song I can’t help but think of the late great Stanley Kubrick’s film A Clockwork Orange an d it’s use if singing in the rain.

  • Catherinetruesdell

    I love this music and recall learning the title song in 4th grade chorus. We learned the lyrics and how to “sign” the song using sign language. After nearly 40 years I can still recall most of the song in lyric and sign language!

  • Scott B

     My parents were WWII era when everyone else’s parents were Nam, maybe Korea.  My sister and I used to play the soundtrack on our 45rpm record player (still have the records and the cover) and we knew all the words.  To us this was brand new stuff! LOL We got our cousins in on it, too, and we’d all sing along.

    “Singing in the Rain” was one of those movies that if it was on the TV then we knew we were watching it (Thanks, Dad!).  It was the Boomer generation’s “Grease”, but so much better. 

    Jean Hagen was typecast, but no one did it better, just watch “White Christmas”.

  • Jason

    Any thoughts on how Stanley Kubrik’s use of “Singin’ in the Rain” impacted the perception or memory of the musical – some say it completely damaged the joy of the song with dark images.  As to greatest musicals what about West Side Story (which has my vote) or An American in Paris? 

  • Jeri

    In 1980 I was 14 and home sick for a week with a horrible case of chicken pox. The local PBS TV station repeatedly broadcasted Singing’ In The Rain that week. I think I watched it 6 times. A huge amount of joy in a week of misery.

  • Deborah Harmon

    I have raised my kids on Gene Kelly movies!  They are in their early to mid 20′s and we have been watching Singing in the Rain, Summer Stock since they were babies. : )

  • Roy-in-Boise

    An my college Film Study class we viewed this wonderful film back in 1975 at SUNY Delhi. I thank our Professor Louise Feravantti for sharing the selection with all of us. I have recommended this movie to my friends,  parents and children alike. It’s great!

  • Kerri in Brunswick, Maine

    Could any of your guests comment on the unusual modern dance scene – the movie-within-a-movie-within-a-movie? I always fast-forwarded through that as a kid. (Actually I still do.) Other than that I think this is one of the greatest movies ever – the tap dancing, the jokes – all still fresh after my 25 years of watching.

  • mezure

    I went to see Singing In The Rain at least four or five times in1952.  What is interesting to me is how in the 1960s when I went to see jazz musicians like Dexter Gordon or Cannonball Adderly, they used bits of the songs from the musical in their improvisations.  And even today, if I don’t like something, I say “I can’t stand em,” using the accent from that film. 

  • Karin

    Last summer we rented Singin in the Rain for my girls (11 and 6) and they both loved it!  In fact my 6 year old took tap lessons this year b/c she wanted to be Debbie Reynolds.  I think that demonstrates the film’s timelessness — a wonderful classic!

  • djnola

    Gene Kelly, like Fred Astaire, taught us how to listen to these great tunes back in the 50′s, when we were not entirely comfortable with voices that were not precisely “crooners,” a little rough around the edges.  Great stuff.

  • ntb

    My most favorite movie. My daughter is 30, my grandaughter is 3. I have always sing ‘Good Morning, Good morning’ song to them in the morning.  Holds many memories.

  • Andy J in Cambridge

    An interesting fact that I learned some time ago:
    The original “print” negative was lost in a fire.  The copies of the film that we have today are restored from either back-up negatives or prints.

  • Expanded_Consciousness

    A 71 year old marrying a 23 year old. Gotta love Hollywood. Could a politician get away with that? Could a university professor? Could your neighbor? I gotta learn to dance!

  • Andy J in Cambridge

    The fantasy sequence is one of the best pieces of film that I have ever seen!

  • Edm Kogos

    There is an interview with Adolf Green, in which he describes watching the title number with Leonard Bernstein, no stranger himself to joyous musical theater. At the end of the number, Bernstein turns to Green and says that song is “a celebration of life.”

  • Susan O

    This movie is part of my family’s fabric.  When our first-born was a pre-schooler, in the late 1990′s, he was playing with an umbrella one day and all the grown-ups started singing to him.  Not long after, he was given a kid-sized umbrella and he spent many hours trying to work out his own choreography to the words.  When the kids got older, we watched the video over and over again, and to this day, “I ceeeean’t stand it!!” is a by-word phrase in our home.

  • Tina

    I’m still true to Fred Astaire!!

    • Wm. James from Missouri

      Astaire is more than fair; by more than just a hair; but they don’t care; they just stare; oh what a terr(ible) end for Astaire : )

  • Don Atus

    Enjoyed this program. I smiled a lot. Thanks.

  • AJNorth

    With all due respect to the myriad of faithful fans of this wonderful picture, my personal choice is “42nd Street” (1933, and loosely adapted, together with elements of other films from the franchise, into a Broadway musical in 1980 produced by David Merrick and starring Jerry Orbach and Tammy Grimes) — considered by many to be the grand daddy of them all, with the music of Harry Warren & Al Dubin (who make an on-camera, and uncredited, cameo appearance together, each with a line of dialog), Dick Powell (making his singing debut), Ruby Keeler (then Al Jolson’s wife), Ginger Rogers, Una Merkel, Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, George Brent, Allen Jenkins and a host of fine supporting actors, with direction by Lloyd Bacon and choreography by the incomparably inventive and pioneering Busby Berkeley (who would later become general director).

    Sure, today the picture is dated (and in black & white); so what; there are marvelous photography and effects (especially considering when it was made), terrific songs and a some great corn:

    Andy: “How’s the turnout?”

    Mac Elroy: “About fifty-fifty. Half are dumb and the other half are dumber.”

    Jerry: “It seems that little Loraine’s been hittin’ the bottle again.”
    Mac Elroy: “Yeah, the peroxide bottle.”

    Loraine: “You remember Anne Lowell?”
    Andy Lee: “Not Anytime Annie? Say, who could forget ‘er? She only said “No” once, and then she didn’t hear the question.”

    Lorraine: “…I always said (she) was a nice girl. And she’s so good to her mother.”

    Annie: “She sure is. Do you know that she makes forty-five dollars a week and sends her mother a hundred of it?”

    Marsh: “Wait a minute! Wait a minute!… It’s out! That’ll be about enough of THAT! It smells!”
    Short Songwriter (Harry Warren): “You mean you don’t like this number?”
    Marsh: “Sure I like it; I’ve liked it since nineteen hundred and five. What do you think we’re putting on — a revival? It’s out, the whole number.”
    Stout Songwriter (Al Dubin): “Why Mr. Marsh, this number’ll ba a riot!”
    Marsh: “That’s EXACTLY what I’m afraid of!”

    Marsh (to Sawyer): “All right, I’ll give you a chance – because I’ve got to…I’ll either have a live leading lady – or a dead chorus girl.”

    Marsh: “… Alright now, I’m through. But you keep your feet on the
    ground and your head on those shoulders of yours and go out — and Sawyer, you’re going out a youngster but you’ve GOT to come back a star!”

    That same year, Warner Bros. released two other
    films in the franchise (with many of the usual suspects): “Gold Diggers of 1933″ (with Ginger Rogers singing a verse of the opening song in Pig Latin) and “Footlight Parade” (which also starred James Cagney, singing and dancing) — both also with stupendous final production numbers.

  • Karen greenslate

    Singing in the Rain has that amazing appeal across generations, cultures, languages.  My children and grandchildren have enjoyed this movie with us and referred to the “puddle dances” as perfect models for what they should be allowed to do when the rain was pouring.  I taught English as a Second Language to immigrants from many languages.  This video sequence was always the one they asked for again and again….as they relaxed, enjoyed, and sang the words to “Singing in the Rain,” understanding the universal themes of romance, love, joy and abandon.  Wonderful!

  • Wm. James from Missouri

    I wish there were more male singers singing like men in real male voices. I just can’t relate to falsetto.

  • not siiging this crap

    waste of time

  • Kairos

    Yeah, Singin’ in the Rain is probably the best.  I think the iconic songs make it slightly better than West Side Story.  

  • Jason

    You HAVE to mention Volkswagen’s remake of the song in their Golf GTI commercial (available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSOo4A9Z2FA). I never saw the original but the remake is absolute marketing genius!

  • Jin Reed

    Hi: So sorry I was not able to hear the program on “Singin’ in the Rain” at 60  when it aired. Had I been able to call in, I would have disagreed strongly with the unnuanced characterization of Astaire as carrying on the European dancing tradition. Unlike the great Gene Kelly (whose ballet technique is constantly evident in most of his routines, no matter his athleticism), Astaire was a jazz man–the man swung, his sense of time unerring (that’s why jazz musicians admired him, from Basie to Betty Be-bop Carter). Kelley had greater technique and was a powerful tap dancer( in the Broadway tradition) but he was no jazz man. Astaire integrated the “EuroAmerican” ballroom tradition with American vernacular dance–tap (jazz dancing). And even the ballroom tradition (all those trots) is rooted in Black vernacular dance. James Reese Europe taught those “trots” to Vernon and Irene Castle, and they started an African influenced dance craze that has not stopped.  

    If you haven’t, perhaps you will explore some of these issues in a future show.

    Love your program!
    JIN

  • Pingback: BAM’s Singin’ in the Rain with film critic Michael Phillips. | BAM Studios is Chicago's Preeminent Audio Post Production and Sound Design Facility

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