I can stand the rain
not all bad
For esentially financial reasons I'm rarely able to see films as they come out, but I've been catching up on the occasional oldie with Sarah et al.
Singin' in the rain is one such. For years it wasn't on my must-see-that-sometime list, probably because I was too serious a sausage to sit down to a musical, but I've officially mellowed and the grapevine has kept buzzing.
I must say, on the other night's viewing, it would be easy to slip into all those ecstatic clichés - it was captivating, a sheer delight, a visual feast, one of the greatest musicals ever made. At least of those I've seen, though I prefer Cabaret. The key to its success I think is its lightness of touch throughout, its self-parody, its Hollywood-mockery (combined with Hollywood's highest production values), and above all the driving energy of its ideas and their execution. Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge owes it much, though Luhrman hasn't yet learnt the lesson that, for the wow factor, no amount of editing can make up for real dancing genius and improvisatory ingenuity.
Singin' was made quickly in 1952, immediately after Kelly's An American in Paris,with no great expectation behind it, especially as it wasn't based on a stage work but was cobbled together, storyline-wise, over a few late nights, as a way of providing coherence to a string of old songs from the twenties and thirties. They hit upon the idea of setting the film at the time of transition to talkies, and they've milked the confusion, anxiety and opportunism of the period hilariously. The film was successful enough at the beginning, though largely ignored by the critics, but its mixture of exuberance and cynicism has won it a deservedly higher place than many loftier attempts at this fraught genre. I'm actually looking forward to seeing it again already.
Always like to seek out views fundamentally opposed to mine, and here's an amusing one. But read the reader's comment on it, which is even longer than the review.
Anyway, I thought the number with Cyd Charisse was great. I did have qualms early about the 'great voice for silent movies' stuff, but of course then they worked on showing up Lina Lamont as a nasty piece of work so we didn't have to feel guilty. Thanks, boys.