the Rain (1952)
Although it is never truly inspired, the movie's narrative is, on the whole, well realized and entertaining. The directors' depictions of Don's struggle to survive prior to his becoming a movie star, his ordeals to escape his overzealous fans once he has become famous, and his various difficulties with Lina are nicely handled, frequently funny, and always infused with tremendous energy. Sadly, the character's romance with Kathy is never as engaging. From its inception until its fulfillment, it is presented in such a formulaic, often arbitrary way that it is rarely able to catch the viewer's fancy. Fortunately, the directors do not waste an excessive amount of time on this strand and, instead, focus on the troubles and intrigues occurring at the studio at which Don, Cosmo, and Lina work.
Like the story that revolves around them, the film's characters are generally appealing, even if they are never brilliantly crafted. Don and Cosmo are likeable, fun loving individuals and Lina is outrageously vain, conniving, and self-centered. Kathy is sweetly charming, but she is never as captivating as are the persons around her. Be this as it may, she is a pleasant character and the viewer, while he may never be fascinated by her, is likely, at the least, to sympathize with her.
It is, however, the numerous musical numbers with which Singin' in the Rain is absolutely filled, not its story or its characters, whatever simple charms these may have, which, ultimately, give the film its enduring worth. These routines, in fact, are, without exception, genuinely delightful.
Kelly's performance of the title song while gleefully dancing through the nearly flooded street outside Kathy's home is so suffused with an effervescent energy and so truly enchanting that it is hard to believe that there is any person who would not be carried away by the experience of watching it. Whatever its appeal, it is not, by any means, the only enthralling musical sequence in the film. The routine Kelly and O'Connor perform in an elocutionist's studio while reciting tongue twisters and tormenting the voice coach himself is packed with impressive acrobatics and a pleasantly naughty mischievousness, and the various silly numbers the same pair put on in scenes depicting their former Vaudeville act are charmingly goofy. Perhaps the movie's most accomplished dance sequence, however, is the extended ballet about an aspiring Broadway actor which Kelly performs with Cyd Charisse about two-thirds of the way through the film. This sequence is so vibrantly colorful, so exquisitely choreographed, and so filled with real humor and sexiness that it could well equal even Kelly's performance of "Singin' in the Rain" as the movie's best overall musical number.
Thanks to its abundant energy, its wildly vivid colors, its nearly perfect musical numbers, and its genial, if somewhat forgettable story, Singin' in the Rain is always a pleasure to watch.
Review by Keith Allen
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