The Pepper Bough

Singin’ in the Rain continues to be relevant 70 years later

Lizeth Avila, Arts and Entertainment Editor

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With remarkable and memorable performances from Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’ Connor, the 1952 film Singin’ in the Rain is one of the most successful musicals ever made. The classic romance film is filled with moving performances and unforgettable dance numbers. Directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, the movie is set during the silent-movie-era in Hollywood. In his heyday, Don Lockwood is alongside the beautiful yet hollow Lina Lamont. When the young singer Kathy Selden catches Lockwood’s attention, Lamont grows insanely jealous and has her fired. Unfortunately, Lockwood’s success has a downfall when talking pictures are introduced to the world of filmmaking. Audiences are hysterical now that they are able to hear Lamont’s irritating and high-pitched voice. The studio finds it upon themselves to hire Selden as a voice over for Lamont.

Selden, portrayed by Reynolds, provided the perfect girl-next-door easy for any female to relate to. Reynold’s breathtaking performance makes it hard to believe she had no experience with dancing when she had been casted for this role. She began studying the art of dance immediately after being casted by examining her co-star’s (Kelly and O’Conner) signature moves.

You also have the star of the film Gene Kelly who not only played the role of Don Lockwood in the film but also directed and choreographed the dance numbers. Kelly can often be referred to as the “king of musicals” between the 40s and 50s. He is admired for having a unique style and an ability to bring so much emotion into his dancing. Although, the lack of dialogue, you are able to understand the emotions within the character due to his passionate performance. Though he is most famously known for Singin’ in the Rain, Kelly was involved with a number of other musicals, such as: For Me and My Gal (1942), Anchors Aweigh (1945), On the Town(1949), An American in Paris (1951), and Deep in My Heart (1954). Also, in 1956 he starred in Invitation to the Dance, which he also directed.

Finally, O’Conner’s portrayal of the humorous, cartoon-like character Cosmo left audiences laughing-out-loud. Some could even say he outshines Kelly with his loveable sense of humor. O’Connor brought such an interesting character to the table while delivering comedy so slyly, yet still so perfect. Not to mention how skilled he was with his singing and dancing as well. His talents truly being underappreciated by the brilliance of Kelly.

Hollywood appreciates movies that touch on Hollywood or filmmaking, just as Singin’ in the Rain does. Its narrative centers around the history of film when it discusses the transition from the silent movie era to the “talkies”- a new wave of modern filmmaking where you could hear the actress/actor’s voice. The appreciation it showed toward its own love and admiration for movies considered it to be unique. In fact, looking at musicals today you can see the major inspiration left by this film to its industry. The movie La La Land (2016), written and directed by Damien Chazelle, is a perfect example with its use of color and sets used in the movie leave a feel of Old Hollywood. Or you can unravel the more obvious similarities like the way Ryan Gosling, who plays Sebastian, swings around a streetlamp during his musical number of “A Lovely Night” just as Kelly does when he sings “Singin’ in the Rain.” Also, the scene where Sebastian and Mia (Emma Stone) walk by a movie set just like Lockwood and Selden do in Singin’ in the Rain. Not only has it influenced new movies but is also frequently used as a reference throughout other genres of film and television: A Clockwork Orange (1971), Leon: The Professional (1994), The Simpsons (1989-), Godzilla (2014), Silver Linings Playbook (2012), Family Guy (1998-).

The fact that it is heavily referenced throughout cinema may be the reason for its overall impact and lasting legacy. Although younger generations may be unfamiliar with this 1950s classic, they are still aware of the direct homage its given from other films and television shows. Anyone who appreciates cinema will get a feeling of nostalgia when watching Donen’s film. Its absolutely gorgeous and vibrant technicolor, stunning performances, and simply Kelly’s presence take us back to an era of filmmaking that is loved dearly. It is also rather nostalgic itself being a love letter to early cinema.

With its gleeful performances, flawless choreography, and catchy songs, Singin’ in the Rain is everything a golden age musical needs. Its overwhelming sense of fun and joy makes it difficult for one not to watch without a grin on their face. This classic still remains relevant today even though it hit theaters 70 years ago. It will forever dance in our hearts because of its film history, cultural impact, and feeling of nostalgia it leaves on viewers. Its love can be felt through the screen leaving a sentimental feeling for the silent era and the “talkies.” Its combination of joy and nostalgia will create one of the most pleasurable viewing experiences ever.

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Singin’ in the Rain continues to be relevant 70 years later