I had the pleasure of watching this on DVD this week so I could review it and decided to integrate the experience into a friend's birthday celebration. So my friend, my two youngest daughters (both under 10) and I all enjoyed this wonderful musical together.
One of the funniest things to see happened in the beginning of the storyline and really set the tone for the rest of the production. Silent film star Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and his gorgeous and sophisticated looking leading lady, Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen), are in attendance of a lavish opening film debut. At the end of the film, the star and his leading lady take the stage for speeches and to take a bow before their adoring audience, but he seems to keep her from speaking. Upon seeing this, I thought to myself, "Hey, he's not letting her say anything! " Then I realized she hadn't had any lines yet anyway. "What's the deal? Is she dumb or something? Maybe she's got a squeaky voice."
At that point the scene had progressed to my finding out why she hadn't had any lines yet, and it was hilarious!
Jean Hagen was sweet, and I'm not talking about sugar! She was impeccable! I don't think anyone else could have held that character together the way she did, and it was no doubt one of the big reasons for the success of the movie. By the time the story was getting ready to close, I was really hoping she'd get what was coming to her!
Then there was Debbie Reynolds, who played the heroine, Kathy Selden, to Hagen's nemesis. Another brilliant casting decision, I thought. Sweet, innocent, and down to earth, she was fun to watch, and Gene Kelly must have enjoyed her playing opposite of him because the two worked so well together.
Reynolds paired up with Kelly was genius, but having Donald O'Connor in the mix was pure magic!
My little girls laughed throughout the entire movie, but their favorite sequence was "Make 'em Laugh", featuring the hilarious entertainer. From his facial features to his dance moves, I could almost swear the man was made of rubber. Those of you who've seen this movie know what I'm talking about and those of you who haven't will have to get ahold of it and see for yourselves. He has some moves that remind me of a circus-clown act. They're energetic, creative, and funny.
It's not hard to see why people loved O'Connor's performances so much! They are delivered with a finesse and characterization that leaves his audience craving more. He was that good!
My friend, who is old enough to be my mother, enjoyed singing along with the music. "These are songs from my era!" she happily announced. Having grown up with these songs, myself, I shared in her delight, but didn't sing along with her - I just enjoyed listening to her do it.
She was so excited about the music that the day after watching the DVD she went right out to one of our local media stores and purchased a copy of the sound track, and when she told me about that I thought that the sound track would really complete the 60th Anniversary Collector's Edition, which was sent to me for review.
The music of Arthur Freed is nothing sort of amazing. His lyrics were great - uplifting, romantic, light hearted, and just plain fun. And they never get old. I could listen to it over and over again and never tire of it.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is "Good Mornin' sung with Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly, and Donald O'Connor. Debbie's look throughout the film was perfect, but her character was even more so, and her deliverance during "Good Morning" was fabulous!
While I enjoyed every scene in this movie, my all time favorite, of course, has to be Gene Kelly's classic dance in the rain. The music, the lyrics, the dance steps, and the rain all come together for the best scene and performance ever in any musical as far as I'm concerned.
As I enjoyed the scene and watched the part where he's splashing around in a puddle I thought about how my kids love to splash in rain puddles, too, and I could see they were not only enjoying that scene, but were likely getting ideas in their heads. Then this little voice inside of me said, "When was the last time you splashed in a rain puddle?"
Speaking of dancing, let's not forget the accentual role of critically acclaimed dancer Cyd Charisse who plays a dancing part as a seductive gangster moll. To watch her dance, one would never know that she overcame Polio, a crippling disease, as a child. The abstract portion of her dancing sequence flowed with a modern style that became more and more popular in musical films moving into into 1960's. Her dance scenes were stylish, graceful, sophisticated, artistic, and impressionistic - could we have expected anything less from one of Hollywood's most beloved female dancers?
I just can't say enough about how well this musical was put together. Every little detail made this movie what it is - from the choreography to the colorful costumes, make up, plot, scripting, camera angles - everything. It all came together and made what I would refer to as one of the best musical productions in cinematic history, if not the best. I'm so glad to see it getting the attention it deserves!
For those of you not interested in purchasing the Collector's Edition, it's also available on:
- DVD (this one has three other musicals with it)
- DVD-Region 2
- Windows Digital Media Download