So last summer I was sleeping with the windows open and my next-door neighbour was watching Singin’ in the Rain turned up to full volume and I thought, “I should watch Singin’ in the Rain too!”, but then I thought “Sheez it’s so late turn down your TV!”
Anyway. I finally got around to watching the movie 1. And… it’s kind of overrated. Greatest cinema musical of all time? Really?
Kinda ironic it’s about the making of a so-so Hollywood film that’s transformed into a great film with the addition of a few unrelated musical numbers, given that pretty much describes Singin’ in the Rain itself. Meta! Singin‘ isn’t as terrible as its film-within-a-film Dueling Cavalier, not by a long shot, but its best known numbers – ‘Good Morning’, ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ and the iconic title track, which is pretty neat, I’ll admit – don’t have anything much to do with the plot, and a long, actually-pretty-snoozy chunk of the second act is given over to an extended fantasy sequence which has nothing to do with the plot.
(Wikipedia says “Singin’ in the Rain was originally conceived by MGM producer Arthur Freed, the head of the ‘Freed Unit’ responsible for turning out MGM’s lavish musicals, as a vehicle for his catalog of songs written with Nacio Herb Brown for previous MGM musical films of the 1929-39 period”. TL,DR: the songs really were just shoehorned into the plot.)
Singin’ in the Rain is plenty entertaining. It’s often hilarious (especially the disastrous “Yes! Yes! Yes” “No! No! No!” test screening of The Dueling Cavalier, and Jean Hagen as insufferable ingenue Lina Lamont). It’s not one of those “classic” films that bores the pants of everyone who isn’t a film critic. It’s a good movie. But I don’t believe it’s great.
Those aforementioned film critics aren’t much help revealing why, either. Roger Ebert and David Stratton and Margaret Pomeraz basically consider it great because it’s considered great? Yeah, okay, then.
- To re-watching it, that is, but the first time I watched it was for uni film studies and I’ve decided that doesn’t count. [↩]