Last Saturday, the All Saints Hop Yard hosted an outdoor movie night. The movie of choice and one near and dear to my heart: Singin’ in the Rain. On a warm night under the stars, with some beers and lightning flashes miles away we spread out our blankets on the grass to watch this amazing movie. We had a blast and we were even part of the entertainment as my daughter and her friend were up and dancing throughout most of the movie. They even got some compliments after the movie from a group of attendees who said they were enjoying their dance routines more than the movie.
It had taken me years before I finally got around to watching Singin’ in the Rain. I had always loved musicals, watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Grease dozens of times with my mom and sister. But it wasn’t until the AFI’s list of 100 greatest American films did I finally get around to watching it. I was on a mission to watch every movie on that list and while I haven’t completed that goal yet, I did watch all the movies in the top 10 and Singin’ in the Rain was one of them. I remember when I watched it for the first time with my sister and how this movie had us laughing til we cried. Since then I’ve seen this movie dozens of times and since I own a copy on DVD we watch it constantly. So if I own a copy, why did I pay a cover charge to see it? I wanted to experience this movie with others and see their reaction. From what I could hear from the laughter and the humming, my family and I were not the only one who were enjoying it.
Singin’ in the Rain has so many iconic scenes it’s hard to pick a favorite part. All the dance routines and songs are fun and full of joy and you can’t help but tap your foot and sing along. Gene Kelly is dreamy, Donald O’Connor and Jean Hagen are hilarious, Debbie Reynolds is charming and don’t even get me started on Cyd Charisse with those gorgeous legs of hers and that sassy performance with her and Gene Kelly.
What’s also fun about this movie is its mini film history lesson as silent movie stars transition to talkies after the surprise hit of The Jazz Singer (which if you haven’t seen is an excellent movie too). I’m also big into behind the scenes stuff that goes into making movies and there’s some fun trivia that goes with Singin’ in the Rain:
- Donald O’Connor, who smoked four packs of unfiltered cigarettes a day, was physically exhausted after performing Make ‘Em Laugh, but then had to to re-do the entire scene when the footage was ruined.
- Gene Kelly was a tyrant and would yell at poor Debbie Reynolds because she couldn’t dance and Donald O’Connor was afraid of him too. But of course they gave their all and were true professionals.
- Jean Hagen, actually dubbing Debbie Reynolds, whose character Kathy Seldon was actually dubbing Jean Hagen’s character, Lina Lamont! (Confusing I know but hilarious once you got it figured out)
- Gene Kelly performing Singin’ in the Rain when ill with a temperature of 101!
This movie also gave me one of my all time favorite quotes from Lina Lamont (who is a quote machine!) “What do they think I am, dumb or something?”
And while I love all the musical sequences when I think about it my two absolute favorites have to be Fit as a Fiddle and Moses Supposes. I was a violinist for five years in school and one of the most important things about playing in an orchestra is your bow movement and staying in sync with everyone around you. There are even notations on your sheet music telling you which way your bow should be going at certain points. So when I watch Fit as a Fiddle I’m even more impressed with that extra degree of difficulty when you watch Donald O’Connor and Gene Kelly dancing together all while keeping the bow movements in sync. Also the song is super catchy.
In Moses Supposes, again, there’s that extra difficulty when Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor are dancing side by side on the desk. That is a small desk! And that is precision dancing there. Again this song is super catchy too (and these two are spiffy in their sweaters and slacks) and it’s not uncommon in our house that we end up humming a song or two from this movie, usually this one.