Directors: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
Producer: Arthur Freed
Writer:Betty Comden, Adolph Green
Cast: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchell, Cyd Charisse
Plot: In the 1920’s on the cusp of talking movies Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly), and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) give an interview on their latest silent film the Royal Rascal. On screen Don and Lina act like they are in love, and the studio promotes that but in reality Don can barely stand to be around Lina. But Lina believes all the studio hype and is convinced that they are in love. Don is asked about how he came to work for Monumental Pictures. He gives a well rehearsed tale that is belied by flashbacks that show how Don and his pal Cosmo (Donald O’Connor) came up the hard way taking any job at all until Don became a star.
Upon leaving the theater Don is mobbed by his fans who literally tear the clothes off his back he jumps into a nearby car driven by Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) at first she screams and calls for the police until she recognizes who it is that jumped into her car. Sh then spends the trip to Don’s house berating his acting saying that the only real acting is done on stage. Don arrives late to the cast party and the studio head, R.F. Simpson (Millard Mitchell) shows a movie whose sound is played on a record it is a “talking picture”. Dismissing the “talking movie” entirely a fake cake is wheeled out and out pops Kathy Selden and when Don sees her he exclaims “Well, if it isn’t Ethel Barrymore.”
Don comments angers Kathy and she picks up a cake and throws it at Don but hits Lina! She then runs out of the party. Later Don looks for Kathy but can’t find her. He finds out from Lina that she had Kathy fired. Dejected Don wanders the lot and finds Kathy Selden in one of the movies being produced. Once they are reunited Don and Kathy talks and find they are interested in each other, Don goes back to his next movie only to have it shut down The Jazz Singer a “talkie” has become a big hit and Monumental had decided to make Don’s latest movie into a talkie. Only Lina has a voice and a dictation that sounds like a metal rasp on steel. What will they do?
Some of the movie critic blogs that I read have what is called a Classic Movie Review. I thought I would start that tradition here with this movie. I have to confess that I have seen this movie over twenty times and each time it just gets better. First Gene Kelly dances like no one else and he dances in an overtly masculine way. In each of his movements there is a controlled power that I have only seen in martial artists that have trained from their youth. And at the same time there is beauty to his moves that is almost transcendent especially when he is partnered with Cyd Charisse.
Next there is the music, the tunes are fun and make you happy. They are enjoyable to listen too and the trio of Reynolds, Kelly, and O’Connor make these songs perfect. And someone that needs to be recognized in this movie is Jean Hagen who plays Lina Lamont it takes real acting chops to pull off that voice and mannerisms and this movie wouldn’t be the same if she wasn’t the foil that the rest of the cast played against.
If you haven’t seen this movie you are missing a gem that will not only entertain you but your whole family. Plus you can talk to your children about a time when motion pictures were made without sound.