Monday, January 6, 2014

Day 239 - Singin' in the Rain



I have never watched Singin’ in the Rain. As a part of my “I have never...” sub-goal to watch one classic movie I have never seen before each month, Singin’ in the Rain was a movie I added to my list of potential films to watch when I started my journey eight months ago. Considering the film’s status as one of the best in history, I figured it was time I finally sit down and watch Singin’ in the Rain to gain the experience of such a storied work. That stated, I knew next to nothing about the movie outside of the fact it was an upbeat musical with a famous scene of a man singing in the rain. To me, what I knew of the film fit the mold of any number of cookie-cutter 1950s musicals, which meant I had very little interest in taking the time to sit through the film. I didn’t know the plot, the characters, or what made the film so loved by so many people, and I wasn’t that concerned with addressing those facts.

Regardless, it was clear Singin’ in the Rain had gained its reputation for a reason, so I added it near the bottom of my potential “I have never...” films, deciding I would get around to watching the movie after working through the classic films that appealed to me more during the earlier parts of the year. Although I have not quite reached that point at this time, a sudden change in plans brought on by record setting cold weather cancelling nearly every activity in a five state area meant I had to rearrange some “I have never...” priorities. With limited options for an “I have never...” event today, I ultimately determined the best event for a day where the local air temperature was colder than the North Pole would be watching an upbeat, happy-go-lucky musical in a setting warm enough for it to have “rain” in the title. As a result, I settled in for the night, turned on the TV, and rented a streaming copy of Singin’ in the Rain.

Riding high

Stars in action

Unimpressed...

Within a few minutes of the film starting, I was surprised to find myself drawn in by the wit of Singin’ in the Rain. With no prior knowledge of the film, the one-liner jokes and rapid fire transitions between plot development and humor were completely unexpected, but they almost immediately piqued my interest. After laughing out loud several times during the first scene of the film, I stopped myself and looked at Rachael with a bit of a puzzled look on my face. Almost rhetorically I interrupted the film with a quick question, “Did you know this movie was funny?” Rachael shook her head as I looked back to the screen and continued, “This movie is funny!” I was completely caught off guard by that discovery, but it was enough to engage me and to rope me in as the story of Don Lockwood, his pseudo-relationship with the unbearable Lina Lamont, and his longing for an unknown actress, Kathy Seldon, began to unfold.

Make 'em laugh!

You were meant for me

A bomb...

Midway through the film, I found myself completely taken in by the well balanced satire and story development that came together around the unbelievably catchy and memorable musical numbers that littered Singin’ in the Rain. I had yet to see how the film would conclude, but it was already easy to see why so many people categorized it as one of the best ever made. Somehow, Singin’ in the Rain managed to include all of the arguably gaudy aspects of a typical mid-century musical and make fun of them at the same time, and the undertones of calling Hollywood out for its more ridiculous aspects that ran through the plot were clever and impactful. Sure, the movie boiled down to a simple love story occurring in an environment of changing times, but Singin’ in the Rain was so much more than a typical, romantic musical. It was unique and special in a way that made it impossible not to feel uplifted. It provided an escape and plenty of laughs on the coldest day. It was exactly what I needed on a day like today.

An idea to rescue a career

Signin' in the rain

Confronted...

... and exposed

By the time Singin’ in the Rain drew to a close, I found myself somewhat disappointed I hadn’t taken time to watch the film earlier in my life. Although the ending was somewhat predictable, it was the perfect way to conclude a film that had consistently used the predictable to cast a light on a crazy industry and to cause a few laughs in unpredictable ways. Although I have seen many great films over the course of the past eight months, it was easy to conclude Singin’ in the Rain ranks among the top films I have seen. Without a doubt it certainly challenges Gone with the Wind as the best musical I have ever seen, and even challenges Casablanca in terms of greatness. However, I know Singin’ in the Rain is a very different film from those other classic films I have experienced in the past, which makes me feel any comparison between works might not be a fair comparison.

A new big screen duo

A movie within a movie?

That aside, it is easy to say Singin’ in the Rain is a film I will revisit again in the future. Considering the laughter it evoked and the smile it left me with, it just might become a periodic “pick me up” on days when I’m feeling the need to break out of a stale or sour mood. This experience was something different and completely unexpected, but it made me incredibly happy I decided to put aside my assumptions and take the time to watch Singin’ in the Rain. It is a work unlike any other I have ever experienced. It wasn’t a comedy, it wasn’t a drama, and it wasn’t a musical. It was all of those things at once, and it came together in the best ways possible. Needless to say, today was a good experience, and it gave me a good reminder I shouldn’t cast judgment without having experienced something first. After eight months of new experiences one would think I have overcome that tendency, but I guess I still have work to do.

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