Singin’ in the Rain

Director: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly

1952. Colour. 103 mins.

Singin’ in the Rain is not only one of the greatest American musicals but also one of Hollywood’s most entertaining celebrations of itself. The setting is a Hollywood studio during the transition from silent to sound movies. Dashing star Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) is able to adjust to the demands of the microphone without difficulty, but his co-star Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) is cruelly exposed as having a shrill voice. Singin’ in the Rain shows Hollywood’s inventiveness in adjusting to invention (Lina’s voice is dubbed by a young actress who becomes Don’s lover) and the qualities it shares with other films about Hollywood is its generic allusiveness, with references not only to other musicals but also to gangster films, costume dramas, silent westerns and screwball comedies. But above all, Singin’ in the Rain is the quintessence of the utopian musical, where song and dance are an outward expression of the joy within. The film both incorporates and embodies an aggressive affirmation of American culture and popular entertainment. It becomes art through the sheer intensity of the pleasure it gives, as if to say: that’s entertainment.

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