“Singin’ In the Rain” is a fancy package of musical entertainment with wide appeal and bright grossing prospects. Concocted by Arthur Freed with showmanship know-how, it glitters with color, talent and tunes, and an infectious air that will click with ticket buyers in all types of situations.
The Freed production has three stars, Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds. It should have a fourth, Jean Hagen, for certainly she figures just as importantly in socking the fun, grabbing big laughs even in such fast company as O’Connor et al. A solid directorial credit is divided between Kelly and Stanley Donen for joint handling of the Adolph Green-Betty Comden hilarious satire on Hollywood at the start of the “talkie” era. Pair also splits credit for staging and directing the musical numbers.
Twelve songs, and almost as many terp numbers ranging from the intimate to the elaborate, make up the musical backing for the comedy. Only one song is new, “Make ‘Em Laugh” by Freed and Nacio Herb Brown and used as a show biz gamut piece niftily belted by O’Connor for his big solo spot. Kelly has his big spot on the title number, singin’ and dancin’ in a downpour. It’s a wow sequence. “Good Morning,” “Fit As A Fid-dle,” “Would You,” “You Are My Lucky Star,” “Moses,” “Broadway Rhythm” and others click. Most elaborate is “Broadway Melody,” imaginatively conceived and executed but running a bit too long. The ballet bit in it could be eliminated. Cyd Charisse gives Kelly a fine assist on the number.
Book for the musical pokes delightful fun at some Hollywood foibles. Kelly is a Fairbanks-type silent screen hero, O’Connor is his ex-vaude partner and mood music man on silent sets. Miss Hagen is a squawky-voiced silent cinema queen without a brain who can’t make the transition to sound, and Miss Reynolds is a nitery dancer who gets her big break, and Kelly, when pictures start talking. Script never lets the fun stop as it coaxes the players through a round of quite often screamingly funny involvements.
Millard Mitchell, producer, Douglas Fowley, director, and Rita Moreno, a jealous actress, are among the others who contribute their full share to the entertainment. Harold Rosson has given the players, the costumes and settings beautiful Technicolor photography. Lennie Hayton’s musical direction, the orchestrations and vocal arrangements, plus other technical assists add topflight values.