70 Years of Singin' in the Rain

Rebecca Varidel
1st May 2022

"What a glorious feeling! I'm happy again..."

In these days of news filled with gloom and doom this wonderful movie musical revives us. It returns us to a different epoch with its story within a story and fills our hearts and souls with pure joy.

Made in 1952 but set at the time of another transition, Singin' in the Rain heralds the beginning of the 'talkies' and the end of the silent movie era.

With its fictional take of the first movie musical, perhaps it is the greatest of them all, the best movie musical of all time. We certainly rated it so.

It's the movie for which dancer Gene Kelly is best known, both as director and choreographer with Stanley Donen, and for his lead role. Yes, the fabulous Kelly stars in his famous dance sequence of the movie title splashing down the street set under his umbrella.

But to my mind perhaps the ultimate number in this musical comedy is "Make 'Em Laugh" which was written by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown especially for Donald O'Connor, and is one of only two songs written especially for the film. The whole routine is O'Connor at his slapstick best, climaxing with his run up the wall (yes your read right) and spectacular tumbling somersaults.

For his role in the film, Donald O'Connor won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy The Singin' In The Rain star trio is completed by a young Debbie Reynolds, and the three of them absolutely brilliantly shine singing and tap dancing together in "Good Morning". 

Beyond this ménage à trois of stars Singin' in the Rain also shines with a ballet sequence "The Broadway Melody Ballet." It marks the start of ballet telling a story within a story in the movie. And a further story within a story within a story in this film. Then as an added bonus The Broadway Melody Ballet features not only a different style of swoon dancing from Gene Kelly than his usual tap or soft shoe shuffle, but also the luscious million dollar legs of the lovely Cyd Charrise.

Although the film was only a modest hit when first released it has endured as an endearing favourite for over half a century.

And its relevance today? Well first up Singin' in the Rain is pure clean fun. Pure honest entertainment. Pure happiness. Pure joy. And when did that ever go out of fashion?

Yet when we consider the media kerfuffle during the transition of readership from print to digital, perhaps this movie spoof of the transition from silent to sound, also has some contemporary messages for us.