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Singin' in the Rain (reissue)


Stars: Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchell, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, Bobby Watson, Douglas Fowley, Rita Moreno

Director: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly

This famous MGM musical about the adventures of a matinee idol (Kelly) in the early days of Hollywood sound films is perhaps the most enduring ever to roll off the studio's prolific production line.

And, while nothing in it can top the brilliant foot-tapping sequence to the title song, with Kelly joyously dancing through a California downpour - an 'irrepressible ode to optimism' according to the screenwriters - every other number was still head and shoulders above most musicals of the 1950s.

Kelly, O'Connor and a stardom-bound Reynolds all sparkle, but it's Hagen who gives the best performance of all as the dim silent peroxide blonde star who has endless difficulties both with her squeaky voice and concealed microphones all over the set - but knows the value of a contract.

And a sequence where Charisse dances in a huge veil with Kelly taxed his abilities as a choreographer to the full, requiring no fewer than three aircraft engines to give the veil the right flow.

The whole thing, dazzlingly shot in Technicolor by Harold Rosson, probably runs neck and neck with Kelly's On the Town as the most joyous musical of all time. Shame on MGM though for dubbing most of Reynolds' songs; you can still hear her original tracks on YouTube, but the only time her singing voice survives on the released film is in the Good Mornin' number - you can't miss that Texas accent.

David Quinlan

USA 1951. UK Distributor: BFI (originally MGM). Technicolor.
102 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 14 Oct 2019