Singin' in the Rain
Hollywood’s troubled transition from silent to talking pictures at the end of the 1920s provided the inspiration for perhaps the greatest of movie musicals.
“The most enduring film musical to have come out of Hollywood. In all these years not a frame of it has dated; it still retains all its freshness and sparkle.”
Clive Hirschhorn, Gene Kelly: A Biography, 1984
To follow the acclaim for An American in Paris, which won him the 1951 Oscar for best picture, songwriter-turned-producer Arthur Freed charged screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green with writing a musical based around some of his own most popular early songs. The result was a nostalgic tribute to the Hollywood of a bygone era starring Gene Kelly as Don Lockwood, the swashbuckling silent star at a film studio grappling with the coming of sound.
From the iconic scene in which Lockwood, smitten with young actress Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), dances home during a downpour singing the title song, to the extended ballet sequence featuring Cyd Charisse in a parody of the gangster film, Singin’ in the Rain represents the musical genre at its most energetic and ambitious.
First featured in Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929), the famous title song later cropped up – to disturbing effect – in Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971).