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2006 January 13   Your Singin' in the Rain Review----

Well, I hardly even know where to begin. First let me say that I think that it is certainly your right not to like this film, and I do appreciate your opinion. However, let me also say that I think that you are absolutely, completely missing the sheer joy that is shown through a solid story, fantastic songs that actually drive the story line forward instead of simply stopping it each time there's a song as most musicals up to that point had really been doing, and then outstanding dances, and wonderful acting and characters all around (even though as you stated it is a Gene Kelly vehicle--not quite sure why this surprises you--is this the first film you have ever seen?:)) Each of the actors are given a chance to shine and they do so brilliantly.

I find it quite interesting that you point out the tasteless nature of laughing at Lina's "speech impediment". I have to be honest with you. It's not as if she had a handicap of some sort that people were laughing at. . .it was a high, shrill, indeterminate accent of some kind that simply grated on your nerves and didn't match the screen goddess that she was. That's the whole point of the movie.

When the producer comes in and tells them all that they are going have to switch from silent film to talkies, he says, "You just do the same thing you've always done. You just add talking." And then he says "Lockwood and Lamont! They Talk!"

And of course, Lina, with that fabulous piercing voice of hers presents the conflict. "Well of course we talk. Don't Ev'rybody?" Ohhh S***, guess what? The transition won't be so smooth.

Anyway, I think you're being a bit too sensitive there. And no, of course the transition at that time was devastating to many people's careers. But this film is a satire. They joyfully poke fun at themselves i.e. Hollywood. It is not mean spirited, it was made with a great deal of research actually asking many of the "old timers" who were around and wanted to share those stories. It was meant to show joy and fun, and I actually disagree that it is at others expense. Although many of the things that are in the film were true to the time period.

Moving on. As I said, I agree, this is a Gene Kelly vehicle. He is the lead. This is going to be a complicated couple o' paragraphs(probably more). First, actually he wasn't on the screen every moment.

- when the kids are dancing and sneaking into movies
- "I Got a Feelin'" segway-number
- "Beatiful Girl" number and the dialogue surrounding it.
- "Make "Em Laugh" number. (yes he was there at the beginning, and offscreen, but the GREAT majority you don't see him.)
- the clip of Lina's vocal training
- later Lina recording a song.
- the scene where they are taping the talkie and Lina has the microphone--he's there--but he's basically set dressing(and you know it).
- When Lina has given "exclusive" interviews to EVERY paper in town.

That's what I can think of now. Now I realize that films have a protagonist. And in this film it's the Gene Kelly character. The story is about him. We can argue it all we want but it's really his issues that we have to fix. That's how Betty Comden and Adolph Green wrote the script while Gene was still working on "An American in Paris". Blame him all you want, but the script is pretty similar to the original with only two or three changes, I think.

Debbie Reynolds did have another number. . .a solo number--no dancing really (because she could barely handle what she had. It was simply too much to ask of her. She was not a dancer. But she worked incredibly hard and eventually was able to dance alongside Gene and Donald). But back to her solo number. . .it, along with a number that Gene Kelly considered to be one of his finest had to be cut from the film because Donen and he felt that they both just slowed the pacing too much. It happens. Oh, and do you think that it was a coincidence that she could dance in later films? It's not because they were hiding or not using her great dancing talent in this. She learned a great deal here. As hard as it was.

And about Donald O'Connor. . .his part was initially supposed to be for Oscar Levant, but the creative team---including of course Kelly---wanted to have O'Connor on board as the best friend. It would mean some fabulous dancing numbers, and just look at what they did. You can dislike Gene Kelly all you want(and that is the vibe I certainly get), but those are great dance numbers. O'Connor was also supposed to be in the "Broadway Melody Ballet" which had to be completely reworked because he was unable to do it due to scheduling conflicts. And Debbie Reynolds, herself has admitted that she certainly wouldn't have been able to be in that. She just didn't have the experience. Cyd Charisse was just recently out of a Ballet Company. That's what they needed. And all I will say about it being dated, is that while I do feel that way about "On the Town", I truly love the "Broadway Melody Ballet".

It is also important that you remember the timeframe. "An American in Paris" was made the year prior and the 17 minute ballet at the end was such a smash that the studio actually WANTED another. All Gene requested was that it not be at the end of the film like in "An American in Paris" I think they could have found a minute or two to edit maybe, but I still think that it is great personally.

Oh here a breakdown of numbers too--since that really seems bothers you.

Debbie

"All I do is dream of you"
"Beautiful Girl"
"You Were Meant for Me"
"Good Mornin'"
"Would you?"(although dubbed by Betty Noyes)
"Singin' in the Rain Reprise"

Donald

"Fit as a Fiddle"
"Make 'Em Laugh"
"Moses Supposes"
"Good Mornin'"

Gene

"Fit as a Fiddle"
"Moses Supposes"
"You Were Meant for Me"
"Good Mornin'"
"Singin' in the Rain"
"Broadway Melody"
"You are my Lucky Star"

I didn't quite understand what you meant about the music. . .I mean, I did understand, but does that mean that you haven't seen the original "Singin' in the Rain" number?

If not, go rent That's Entertainment! It shows several versions of it. (They are right at the beginning--you don't even have to watch the whole thing if you don't want to--see, I aim to please!) I liked Judy Garland's. It was cute. But as Leonard Bernstein when he first saw Gene Kelly's "Singin' in the Rain" number, said very quietly, "That was a reaffirmation of life." He was very touched by it. It was about more that just the song. It was about the feeling that particular scene and interpretation invokes. If you're missing that, then it's too bad.

I guess I just had to write because with all the really truly awful things in this world that we can bitter and cynical about, I think that it's actually a real shame that one of the most witty, pure and joy-filled gems that Hollywood had ever shared with us has to be ripped apart for what I see as invalid reasons.

You don't have to like it, but there's nothing negative there, my friend. I guess I don't fully appreciate the sentiment.