Welcome to a new regular feature on Cultoid! Classic film of the week does exactly what is says on the tin; gives you a write up on one of the all time greats that you may or may not have seen. After all we all have gaps in our film watching repertoire and this is a chance to be reminded of and/or enthused to get involved and fill in your back catalogue omissions.
First up we have one to put a smile on your face: Singin’ In The Rain:
I’m the kind of person that has a major beef with musicals. I deplore the overacting and sudden breaking into song without warning and I can’t stand the saccharin sweet smiles that the actors seem to have to glue on to their faces whenever they start singing and dancing (those RADA memories of getting drilled into performance mode). That’s right I am a stalwart hater of musicals…..until I watch them.
As much as I profess to dislike musicals whenever they aren’t in front of me I can’t help but get swept away by them when I do actually give them my time.
“The only problem is once they release this movie, no-one’s gonna want to see me jump off the Woolworth building into a damp rag.”
Singin’ in the Rain is no exception. I can honestly say I spent the majority of the film with an idiotic smile plastered across my face, swaying along to all those famous numbers and revelling in the beautifully saturated technicolour image.
Before watching it I didn’t really know what it was going to be about. Whenever anyone brings it up they only ever talk about the famous Gene Kelly dance number in the rain soaked streets. But I knew they couldn’t drag that out for 2 hours. Instead I was pleasantly surprised to see a film which is all about films; how they are made, why they are made and the politics of the film industry all set against the back drop of one famous actor’s career as silent films become “talkies”.
One criticism that could be leveled against this film is that at times it almost stops being a story and becomes more of a showcase for the talented cast to just dance and sing as if they were in a modern day reality TV talent contest. But the fact that the actors are so brilliant really negates this. Specifically Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor. These two have a number of routines that are literally exhausting to watch. The timing is always impeccable and the use of props to give extra life to the dances is insane. Sort of like a Jackie Chan movie except nobody gets kicked.
I was particularly impressed with O’Connor, as prior to seeing the film I assumed it would be Kelly that would take all the limelight. But as the ever optimistic Cosmo Brown, O’Connor displays not only a huge talent for dancing and singing but also as a Vaudeville comedian, complete with slapstick pratfalls and the kind of rubber face Jim Carrey would envy.
The film is frenetically paced, wondefully choreographed and so unashamedly feel good that even the harshest of cynics would crack a genuine smile by the end of it. It is sad then that a film like this could never be made today. I think if Hollywood produced something with this kind of sentiment now, it would be laughed away as something barely even suitable for our spoilt generation of iPhone brandishing Facebook socialising sprogs! Which is sad. (also: where did that rant come from?)
But the fact that we have it as a reminder of a golden age of cinema is a great thing. So if you’re feeling like you need cheering up, or you’ve grown tired of being a cynic, or if you just want some motivation to go back to that dance class you took in 1989 (was that just me?) then give this one a spin!