It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
There is no movie musical more fun than "Singin' in the Rain,” and few that remain as fresh over the years. Its originality is all the more startling if you reflect that only one of its songs was written new for the film, that the producers plundered MGM's storage vaults for sets and props, and that the movie was originally ranked below "An American in Paris,” which won a best picture Oscar. The verdict of the years knows better than Oscar: "Singin' in the Rain” is a transcendent experience, and no one who loves movies can afford to miss it.
The film is above all lighthearted and happy. The three stars--Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and 19-year-old Debbie Reynolds--must have rehearsed endlessly for their dance numbers, which involve alarming acrobatics, but in performance they're giddy with joy. Kelly's soaking-wet "Singin' in the Rain” dance number is "the single most memorable dance number on film,” Peter Wollen wrote in a British Film Institute monograph. I'd call it a tie with Donald O'Connor's breathtaking "Make 'em Laugh” number, in which he manhandles himself like a cartoon character.
Kelly and O'Connor were established stars when the film was made in 1952. Debbie Reynolds was a newcomer with five previous smaller roles, and this was her big break. She has to keep up with two veteran hoofers, and does; note the determination on her pert little face as she takes giant strides when they all march toward a couch in the "Good Morning” number.
"Singin' in the Rain” pulses with life; in a movie about making movies, you can sense the joy they had making this one. It was co-directed by Stanley Donen, then only 28, and Kelly, who supervised the choreography. Donen got an honorary Oscar in 1998, and stole the show by singing "Cheek to Cheek” while dancing with his statuette. He started in movies at 17, in 1941, as an assistant to Kelly, and they collaborated on "On the Town” (1949) when he was only 25. His other credits include "Funny Face” and "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”