Note: This Week in the Box is a year-long series where Sam works through the entire Warner Brothers 50 Film Collection box set. To find reviews of the other films in the series and see the complete list, click here.
With a dozen memorable songs, sharp comedy (both in words and physical), and amazingly choreographed dance numbers, Singin’ in the Rain is the pinnacle of movie musical perfection (if you ask me, which you clearly did, since you’re reading this review).
It’s hard to come up with things to say that aren’t just gushing about how great it is for 500 words. The plot, if you’ve never seen it, is that Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are silent movie stars. A famous on-screen duo, they are also linked in real life with varying degrees of commitment- that is, Lina believes that they’re totally in love on screen and off, and Don, not being an idiot, does his best to keep the screeching harpy at a distance.
The term “screeching harpy” is not an exaggeration; Lina’s voice could easily be weaponized and used to cut through solid steel. This does not bode well for her transition into talkies, which is where Kathy (Debbie Reynolds) comes in. Don meets her entirely by accident and is almost immediately smitten. As it happens, she can sing and dance and act. They come up with the idea to make the next Lockwood and Lamont picture a musical, and to replace all of Lina’s dialogue with Kathy’s voice. Hijinks, naturally, ensue. (That’s misleading, though, as hijinks are scattered pretty evenly throughout the movie. It is a musical, after all).
But you don’t watch this movie for the plot, the plot is merely a serviceable reason to put Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor (who plays Cosmo, a pianist and friend of Don’s), and Debbie Reynolds on a screen and watch them sing and dance together. Gene Kelly co-directed the film with Stanley Donen and did all the choreography, and boy did he ever. The man can dance, let me tell you. This is what you watch instead of An American in Paris: where American is overly obvious and the songs are all the same (I refer you to the link above where I reveal myself to be a heathen about Gershwin), Singin’ in the Rain is just full of pure exuberance and joy. It’s so much fun to watch.
All-Important Power Rankings of Songs:
1. Good Mornin’
2. Moses Supposes
3. Make ’em Laugh
4. Singin’ in the Rain
5. All I Do
And I will fight to the death to defend those rankings, if necessary. I don’t feel it necessary to rank every last song, but those are absolutely the best five, in order.
If you have an interest in acquiring this film for yourself, and you should, you absolutely need to seek out the blu-ray that has the same special features as the one in this box set. It has a jukebox feature that allows you to shuffle all the songs into whatever order you want and play them all in a row. Completely awesome and worth every penny. It looks like the standard blu-ray on Amazon has it, for the record.
Highly, Completely, and Totally Recommended