Reynolds, O’Connor are true stars of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’
Because I really love pulling complete 180s in life and in these columns… this week I’ll be reviewing a movie that was older than most of the cast of my previous review.
“Singin’ in the Rain” is a 1952 musical released by MGM and is considered one of the classics — even being spoofed in pop culture on more than one occasion.
The film stars Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor as three performers who are attempting to create a “talkie” film for the first time in the late 1920s.
Kelly stars as Don Lockwood, a popular silent film star who is just a bit too caught up in his own ego. Going as far as to slightly (and I use that word sparingly) change up his backstory into how he got into acting in the first place.
Lockwood leads people to believe he was groomed for acting at a young age with his best friend Cosmo (O’Connor) — a musician and singer — coming along for the ride. Of course while Lockwood is telling this story and using his motto “Dignity, always dignity” you see flashbacks of a childhood spent getting kicked out bars, sneaking into movie theaters to watch productions and becoming a stunt double to start his acting career.
Lockwood is Hollywood’s hearthrob, paired with his supposed fiancee Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen), they seem to be riding the high only A-listers could dream of.
Following the premiere of their latest film, Lockwood and Cosmo are on their way to an after party when their car breaks down. A group of rabid fans soon start harassing Lockwood, going as far as to take “souvenirs” like pieces of his clothes (you can see why celebrities have body guards these days).
In an attempt to escape the crazy group of fans, Lockwood eventually ends up in a car driven by Kathy Selden (Reynolds) who is not impressed by the big headed actor in the slightest.
The pair trade insults — Kathy saying movies are all the same and Lockwood making jokes about her dreams of become a stage performer — before parting ways.
During the after party, R.F. Simpson (Millard Mitchell) the head of Monumental Pictures, shows a short clip of one of the first talking pictures.
Chaos ensues after the film when R.F. brings a group of dancers into the room to perform, one of which is Kathy much to Lockwood’s delight. Lockwood stops Kathy from leaving multiple times, obviously frustrating the poor girl (totally merited I think). In an attempt to get back at the smug actor, Kathy throws a pie in his direction. However, Lockwood dodges the projectile and it goes right into the face of an irate Lina.
Kathy rushes from the building, followed closely by Lockwood who is unable to catch her in time before she drives away. We later learn that Lina, jealous of the young woman, got her fired from her job as a performer.
A few weeks pass and Lockwood is unable to get the young aspiring star out of his mind. They’re paths cross again however when R.F. insists the company put together a “talkie” production to compete with fellow production company Warner Bros. who released smash hit “The Jazz Singer.” And so the idea of “The Dueling Caviler” was born.
During the process everyone realizes there’s a major hang up… Lina’s voice is not meant for the talking pictures. To her dialect coach’s dismay she still retains her Brooklyn style accent and she can’t seem to understand she must talk into a microphone during her performance.
After a terrible preview, Cosmo (who owns the brains between he and Lockwood) comes up with a brilliant idea to turn things around. He and Kathy suggest they turn the failing film into a musical and dub Kathy’s voice over Lina’s.
R.F. approves but warns the trio to never let Lina know that the object of her jealousy is behind the role.
I’ll stop there and let anyone who hasn’t seen the film learn how it ends.
I’ve got to be honest here. To me, however talented Kelly is in this film, he doesn’t hold a candle to O’Connor and Reynolds. This duo are the real stars of the film.
Anytime they’re on the screen they bring a fire and — in O’Connor’s case comedy — to it that really makes the performance. I’ll be even bolder and say that if there had to be a romance, one between these two would have been more intriguing.
I felt that they had a better connection than Reynolds had with Kelly. If I’m honest I just didn’t really like Kelly’s character all too much. Sure he changed some during the film but overall I just didn’t find Lockwood appealing in the least. He can sing and dance but he really wasn’t super involved in coming up with ideas throughout the film — that was Cosmo (the real hero of the film as far as I’m concerned).
My dislike of Lockwood aside, I really enjoyed this film. There’s a clear reason it’s a classic. Its musical numbers are catchy and memorable and the dance scenes are just over the top enough to be enjoyable without stepping into “oh god why?” territory. I should thank my grandmother who suggested this movie, among others, to review… so thank you!
“Singin’ in the Rain” is rated G and can be viewed on HBO Max with a subscription or rented from YouTube, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu.
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Laura Jameson is a staff reporter for The Express.