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Revisiting “Singin’ In the Rain”

23 Oct

singin-in-the-rain-half-cut-web-9862In looking back, I am quite sure that my lifelong obsession with rain began with Singin’ In the Rain, a movie I loved so much as a child that I used to watch it before I was even old enough to understand what the plot was because the dancing so much captured my imagination.

I even took tap dancing lessons for seven years. I wanted to dance like Gene Kelly, which didn’t exactly happen. I didn’t like taking ballet lessons and it really helps to know ballet. It teaches you grace and body control (unless you’re Fred Astaire – he always said he hated ballet and had very few lessons and somehow it never affected his grace or body control).

But I watched Singin’ In the Rain so often as a child that inevitably I burned out on it. It began to seem a bit routine, a bit old hat, and since I was simultaneously discovering what seemed to me the much fresher Fred Astaire (and his sublime The Band WagonSingin’ in the Rain inevitably fell by the wayside, un-watched for years.

But then Andrea Lundgren and I saw Gene Kelly in the 1948 The Three Musketeers and we recognized certain scenes, in their original technicolor, that were later used as footage for Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont’s The Royal Rascal. Suddenly, we both had a keen desire to revisit a movie that felt like an old friend.

The experience was like wrapping myself up in a warm blanket and looking at pictures of a happy childhood. It remains, after who knows how many viewings, an eternally happy, energizing film that makes you feel certain you can get up and dance; I think I must have grinned like a goofball the entire time.

So, did I notice anything new after all these years? Nothing world-shaking, but a few things stood out to me.

That dress is really green

That dress is really green

1) The dress Lina Lamont wears to the opening of The Royal Rascal is green! Her shoes are green, too! Most people probably already know this, but I never did, which is a testament to how bad my TV screen is. Seeing it on a new screen was revelatory, at least in a sensory way.

2) Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont’s careers appears to be co-dependent…or at least, he is dependent on her. Lina Lamont was a star before Don Lockwood broke into the industry as a stunt man, so she didn’t need him to get started. But at the point the movie starts – in 1927 – they appear to be a brand name: Lockwood and Lamont. The way they talk about saving Lockwood and Lamont, you would think they sink or swim together. Do they make movies on their own anymore? Can he be a success without her? Is there any guarantee that people will like Lockwood and Seldon as well as they did Lockwood and Lamont?

3) Don Lockwood and Cathy Seldon totally climbed over the dead wreckage of Lina Lamont’s career to forge a new career of their own. Supposedly, they change The Dueling Cavalier to a musical in order to save Lockwood and Lamont, but since Lina Lamont neither sings nor acts, how could they possibly suppose that they were doing anything other than saving Don Lockwood’s career while jettisoning Lina Lamont’s. Lina was right to be worried about her career. Perhaps her methods were crude, but she definitely had a point.

4) Cosmo Brown seems to be the only truly smart person around (and how did R.F. ever get to be head of Monumental Pictures?). And as Andrea Lundgren observed while we were watching, he seems such a talented comedian and performer that it seems incredible that he isn’t in movies, too. But since he’s apparently also a composer, a fair hand at plotting movies, good at dancing as well as singing, perhaps he’s simply too talented for his own good and can’t fix on any one thing to do. But seriously, he ought really to be the one running the studio.

Wheee! That looks like so much fun! Can I do it, too?

Wheee! That looks like fun! Can I do it, too?

5) Although I always assumed that Singin in the Rain was spoofing silent movies, I’d like to offer a new theory. At least in the case of the Royal Rascal, they are spoofing adventure films. Considering that much of the footage of The Royal Rascal was taken from when Gene Kelly played a seriously over-the-top and spoofy D’Artagnan in the 1948 The Three Musketeers and that anything that was added to The Royal Rascal (those scenes featuring Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont) would hardly have been out of place in The Three Musketeers, it could be seen as laughing more at the kind of ultra-heroic, swashbuckling adventure films with dashing heroes and swooning ladies than any specific silent film.

6) This last point is not an observation so much as speculation about what happens after the film ends. Lina Lamont clearly has a very smart lawyer, considering that he got her a contract where she controls all her own publicity so that the studio is responsible for any publicity that reflects badly on her. My theory is that her lawyer has her sue Monumental Pictures after the whole Dancing Cavalier debacle. Since he’s a smart lawyer, she would win and then I figure that she then marries her lawyer and the two of them became seriously wealthy powerhouses in the movie industry. Either that or he arranges for her to make a comeback as a comedian. All she’d have to do is play it straight and she’d be a hit! I’d totally go to see Lina Lamont in a comedy.

In closing, just because it always makes me so happy, here is that song and dance that never gets old. It makes me wish it would start raining right now.

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12 Comments

Posted by on October 23, 2015 in Movies

 

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12 responses to “Revisiting “Singin’ In the Rain”

  1. The Animation Commendation

    October 24, 2015 at 9:17 am

    I’ve only seen this once and wasn’t too fond of it, so I should probably revisit it also.

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    • christinawehner

      October 24, 2015 at 5:17 pm

      I’ve had that reaction to movies, too – where the first time I watched it I thought it was tepid and enjoyed it more the second time…though sometimes I never do quite learn to like a film. It seems to especially happen with movies that are highly praised. 🙂 I’m probably unfairly biased in favor of Singin’ in the Rain, though.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • The Animation Commendation

        October 24, 2015 at 5:27 pm

        I know what you mean. I felt ‘An American in Paris’ was extremely overrated!

        Liked by 1 person

         
        • christinawehner

          October 24, 2015 at 9:35 pm

          I agree! I’ve watched it twice and have been contemplating watching it yet a third time in an effort to bring myself around, but have yet to really like it. It seems too self-conscious, somehow.

          Liked by 1 person

           
  2. littlealmond

    October 24, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    It’s raining here and I have this one checked out from the library. Gene Kelly was my first love. I have probably seen this fewer than six times, though, so I never reached the burn out stage, except with the song “Make ‘Em Laugh.”
    Last weekend I finished watching “Adventures of Robin Hood” for what was probably the twelfth time at least. I had just got a ‘new’ TV with a VCR.
    Apart from “Dueling Cavalier” moments in “Three Musketeers.”, which I was so excited about– even more excited than the “Robin Hood” footage re-used in “Adventures of Don Juan” ten years later—, that movie was a let down.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • christinawehner

      October 24, 2015 at 5:26 pm

      One of the best movies for a rainy day ever! Yeah, I know what you mean about “Make ‘Em Laugh.” I watched it WAY too many times as a child, especially rewinding that particular dance. When I watched it again this last time my primarily reaction was to marvel at his incredible energy and athleticism.

      It’s important to have those VCR’s, definitely! I’m afraid to replace my old TV with a new one because then I’d have to not only get a new TV, but also a new dvd player and dvr. Also, when I watched The Three Musketeers recently (which I agree was kind of tepid) it wouldn’t play properly on my friend’s brand new DVD player, but played perfectly on my old DVD/VHs player. Go figure! 🙂

      I didn’t realize they re-used Robin Hood footage in Adventures of Don Juan! I’ll have to look for that.

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  3. littlealmond

    October 24, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    It’s towards the beginning, when Don Juan is galloping away from the castle of the angry husband.

    By some strange error, the VHS I acquired was “digitally enhanced” and has a weird narrator describing things for the visually impaired. So I started “Marie Antoinette” with Norma Shearer and Tyrone Power. Have you seen that one? Tyrone Power movies are so elusive.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • christinawehner

      October 24, 2015 at 9:45 pm

      I have not seen that one yet. Is it good so far? His films do seem harder to find than those by actors like Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart. My library fortunately had a few, but most of the ones I’ve seen him in came from DVD collections devoted to him.

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      • littlealmond

        October 25, 2015 at 8:53 pm

        It’s decent. French court life is kinda weird. Most of the French nobles are a little more English than French. This is the first film I’ve seen Norma Shearer in; she played Juliet opposite Leslie Howard’s Romeo in 1935; mostly I know her face from posters for that movie.
        Tyrone Power is wonderful and he’s not wearing a wig unlike every other cast member. Henry Stephenson has a small supporting role. I like the actress who played Maria Theresa but I don’t think she’s going to show up again.

        Liked by 1 person

         
        • christinawehner

          October 26, 2015 at 9:52 am

          I’ve waffled about seeing this one, because I’d heard it was an unexpected flop the year it came out, but I do like Tyrone Power (and I’m glad he’s not wearing a wig!). I’ve only seen Norma Shearer in The Women, which isn’t a film that does her justice. Henry Stephenson is always a welcome actor!

          That’s funny how English the French Court is. The Three Musketeers had that problem, too…except with actors like June Allyson and Frank Morgan, it made me think more of middle America.

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  4. stephencwinter

    October 26, 2015 at 1:32 am

    Singing in the Rain is such a joyous celebration of life that never fails to enrich us. Thank you for bringing it to my mind once again.

    Liked by 1 person

     

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