11. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952)
There is so much I want to write about this film. I could write about how I really like musicals, how I think Gene Kelly is pimp, how this was another movie I watched in film class at Mount Royal, or how I love movies about making movies. I could write about how this movie depicts the struggles some silent stars faced in transitioning to sound, and then I could write about silent star “Marie Prevost“, drank herself to death in 1937, and was found dead in her apartment with dog bites all over her. Then I could drop a Nick Lowe reference from his song Mary Provost: “she was a winner who became the doggie’s dinner”. But instead I will narrow my focus to the ridiculously awesome “Make ‘Em Laugh” sequence starring Donald O’Connor.
The whole sequence has an anarchic quality, where rules of physical movement are ignored, and the effect is for me pretty mind blowing. Just to sound pretentious, I will call it “audacity of movement”, basically meaning the O’Connor in this sequence is audacious enough to try physical things that seem impossible, and yet he does them beautifully. From flipping off walls to being tossed around by a dummy, anything seems possible. Hell, he even does this, I didn’t even know it was possible. The only thing I can compare it to is watching Rey Mysterio Jr. wrestle, and just being in awe of what is happening. The amazing thing isn’t simply that a man can move like that, but rather that a man can even think up moving like that. It’s the kind of thing that can bring tears to my eyes, just the sheer imagination of it.
The rest of the film has a ton great sequences and great music, but nothing really tops the “Make Em Laugh” sequence. The greatness of the film is that the sequences are equally matched by a great screenplay which is both enjoyable but also pretty interesting from a historical perspective. Just seeing a little bit about how films were made in 1927(even if it’s not meant to be accurate) is for me pretty thrilling. This film combine history, music and mayhem into a tight 100 minute package.
On filmaffinity.com I gave this film 9/10, but it’s a really strong 9 which could easily be a 10 with some more thought. I recommend the shit out this film.