Tag Archives: Kathleen Freeman

The Set of 400: #257 – My Favorite Wall Climbing Musical Number

Today! Because what do you think I am? Dumb or something?

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly

Starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Jean Hagen, Cyd Charisse, Millard Mitchell, Rita Moreno, Douglas Fowley, Kathleen Freeman, William Schallert (x3), Bobby Watson

The quintessential movie musical, Singin’ in the Rain is as damn near a perfect movie as was made in the 1950s, if you don’t mind all the singing and dancing. And as we’ve already covered, I’ve clearly got a thing for musicals – more of a thing than I previously knew existed in this bag of preferences and whims. The entirety of that decade only landed 14 movies on this list (if you include 1950, and not 1960 – decade rules, amiright?), which is one fewer than 1991 scored by itself, and that isn’t even the most honored year. Do I need to watch more films from the ’50s? Almost certainly. But also, did they just not make my kind of films in post-war America for a long time? Also probably true! Goddamn Eisenhower!

For movies and America in general, this was kind of a lousy time to be alive, no matter what shitbird Republicans would have you believe

And as much as I enjoy a good breaking-into-song-for-little-apparent-reason in my cinematic dramas, the 1950s style of musical is largely too sound-stagey and carbon copy for me. Oklahoma and The King and I and that sort are fine, but they never feel even remotely authentic. What works for Singin’ in the Rain is that it’s a movie about movies (my beloved sub-genre), so the sound-staginess of it doesn’t detract. It’s also a period film – set in the late ’20s at the advent of sound in motion pictures – so it has that added layer of movie studio phoniness to camouflage the seams a little more. Musicals are always going to be somewhat unnatural – the only hope with a movie musical is to make it feel less like you’re in a live theater. Cinematic verisimilitude is considerably different for musicals than for virtually any other type of film. Continue reading

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