This event was scheduled prior to the death of Debbie Reynolds. The host Ben Mankiewicz, did not mention her passing in the intro or the conclusion of the presentation, so that material was already in the queue, but there was a dedication card before the movie began. It is certainly a deserving tribute because you can clearly see in every scene she appears in, Debbie Reynolds was special. It’s interesting that at one point in the story, R.F. the studio head takes notice of Reynold’s Kathy Seldon. He calls her out of the chorus line for having that something special and unique. That is exactly what you can see in Reynolds. Her smile is effervescent, her face just glows, even when buried in a crowd of other actresses, and her line delivery is spunky and confident.
This movie does not need any defending. Mankiewicz suggested it might be one of the greatest musicals of all time, he qualifies that by pointing out that many would say it is “The” greatest musical of all time, present company believes that to be the case. For almost two hours I sat with a smile on my face, a laugh in my heat or a tear in my eye. Evey time you turn around there is another great number. As far as I can tell, other than the compilation film “That’s Entertainment”, this is the only movie where Donald O’Connor and Gene Kelly worked together. That is almost incredible to believe when you watch the “Fit as a Fiddle” or “Moses Supposes” sequences in this film. They perform with such synchronicity, you would believe they’d been working together for years.
Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont is a hoot and a half. The opening segment where Kelly as Don Lockwood tells the background of their Hollywood “Romance” is so great because they hold her voice until the perfect moment. She still plays a bitchy star with her silent performance up to that part, but once she starts speaking, the laughs become bigger. Last year the whole scene with Ralph Fiennes and Alden Ehrenreich in Hail, Casar! was cribbed from Lina’s diction lesson. Hell it was funny sixty-four years earlier, it should be funny again. Both films are tributes to old Hollywood and they make us aware of some of the foibles that the star system presented to the studios.
There were more than a hundred and fifty people at the afternoon screening today and I am happy to say they were not all of retirement age. I saw a Mom with her two little girls, maybe six and eight. There were four kids who came in together in their late teens, an couples of every age throughout the theater. “Singin’ in the Rain” is a national treasure to be taken out and shared on a regular basis. In fact the last time I saw it on the big screen was a Fathom Screening from five years ago for the 60th Anniversary.
My Daughter and I are working up a project for this year where we will be posting on the 52 films from the TCM Essential Book we purchased last year. Instead of working through the films in order of the year they came out like the book did, we are going to try to do screenings of the movies as much as possible and let that dictate some of the order. “Singin’ in the Rain” was up this weekend, an we just thought of doing this project last week, so this is a natural to start. I Think most of our posts will be Vlogs on Youtube, but I will link them here and put up a page to list all of the links as well. The loss of Debbie Reynolds is a sad way to begin the project, but the joyous film she starred in will live forever and she and it should be celebrated.