best films: #40: SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952)
In rare form, an original movie musical (as in one that was neither adapted from a Broadway show nor from a fairy tale to an animated spectacle) is actually astoundingly excellent – and other than Moulin Rouge!, I dare you to find another film that fits this bill that holds a candle to Singin’ in the Rain. Aside from its stellar soundtrack that includes some pretty memorable song-and-dance sequences (particularly the title song, the effervescent “Good Mornin,'” Donald O’Connor‘s iconic “Make ‘Em Laugh,” and the highly enjoyable “Moses Supposes”), the film also boasts one of the all-time greatest comedic performances from a male or female actor – Jean Hagen‘s incomparable take on Lina Lamont, the ditsy but devious silent screen star with the somewhat secretly hideous speaking and singing voice – an attribute that brought us the oft-quoted “And I can’t stannem!” elocution scene. Gene Kelly, O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds are in fine form here as well (why is it that Reynolds didn’t do more of these types of movies?). My big question to end on is this – how is it that this built-in musical hasn’t been bastardized for a big-budget Broadway stage show yet (other than the quick ’80s incarnation)? Drawing from films seems to be the trend of late anyway. And would that be so bad? Ponder it.
Standout Performance: Surprisingly enough, the least famous of the lead foursome takes the cake – Hagen is pure comic gold.