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Singin' in the Rain

Stanley Donan

These days everybody recycles and greatest hits musicals are a dime a dozen. But things were different back in the early 1950s. So when legendary producer Arthur Freed, who oversaw all the great MGM musicals, asked his best writers to patch together a story using songs, including All I Do is Dream of You, You Are My Lucky Star, and Singin’ in the Rain, from the large back catalogue that he and Nacio Herb Brown had written for the studio back in the 30s, he was just being frugal. Nobody could have known that they were on to a winning formula and the resulting film would be the greatest of all MGM musicals, and perhaps the high-point of the entire genre.

"...the greatest of all MGM musicals."

Of course, it didn’t hurt that Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s script, which lampooned Hollywood’s uneasy conversion from silents to talkies, was delightfully witty. Or that star Gene Kelly was also drafted in to choreograph and co-direct with Stanley Donen, a man with a feather-light touch for comedy. Or that it features two of the greatest supporting comic turns in film history, from Donald O’Connor, as Kelly’s side-kick, and from Jean Hagen as a silent movie star with the world’s most grating New York accent. Or that the musical numbers are executed so brilliantly. Or that Kelly gets to partner with Cyd Charisse. In fact, the whole thing is so darn perfect that you will refuse to believe that all the songs were not written specially for the film.

Love musicals? Get set for our focus on Musicals, kicking off at DCA cinema in November. You’ll find more details and the full line-up in our next Cinema Guide, due out Fri 8 November!