Singin’ in the Rain
See my review of An American in Paris. I said that the best musical of all time was whichever one of these two I’d seen most recently. So now this one is the all-time champion. AAIP is only a darn good musical for most of its length, and then comes the ballet, which boosts it onto a whole new level. SITR is brilliant from beginning to end. There are no weak parts. The story is simple, straightforward, and funny as hell. It is full of sly wit and satire, and pokes fun at many Hollywood customs and individuals. The chemistry between Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds is superb. Donald O’Connor is every bit the dancer Gene Kelly is; if he’d been handsome instead of goofy-looking, he’d have been Kelly’s romantic rival. It must have taken a lot of courage for 19-year-old Debbie Reynolds, who was not a dancer (she was a gymnast!), to hoof it between Kelly and O’Connor in the “Good Morning” number. Legend has it her feet were bleeding when she was through. There is also a story that Kelly was so hard on her that she was discovered by Fred Astaire sitting under a piano and crying, whereupon he started coaching her. Believe that or not, up to you. Rita Moreno is in the movie, but most of her part was left on the cutting room floor, as they say. Kelly’s solo in the water is possibly the best single dance number MGM ever made, if you’re into ranking these things. It is certainly the most iconic. And lastly, kudos to director Stanley Donen and director of photography Harold Rosson for some pretty sharp camera moves that enhance the dancing. Camera booms were not as steady back then as they are today; you can see a certain amount of bounce in some of the longer dolly-in dolly-out shots. They were pushing the technology, and I respect them for it.