Continuing our participation in The Film Experience's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series and join celebration of Gene Kelly's centennial week by picking our favorite image in Singin' in the Rain, classic Hollywood movie widely considered the greatest musical of all time.
As anything considered to be the best anything, each person who watches Singin' in the Rain will immediately think "What's so great about this?". This is a real shame and a major barrier that tends to hinder the relationship between modern audiences and great cinema, but one that this musical must live with.
However, if we're being frank, Singin' in the Rain has it easier than say, The Seventh Seal, because it is actually a lot of fun to watch. The title of this entry was written to express the feeling I experienced while watching this movie. Singin' in the Rain, with a tight story, an amusing yet insightful look at the history of cinema, a lot of humor and spectacular dance sequence is a delight that can easily charm audiences and certainly keep on doing so.
If there is a problem with the movie -I bet I'm not the only one who thinks this- it's how the plot seems to stop all of a sudden for an overlong musical number ("Gotta dance!"), which feels to me like a big parenthesis in the plot, but is nevertheless amusing and gives us this wonderful image:
Gene Kelly has a playfulness to himself that is just magnetic. As do Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor for that matter. These guys perform incredibly complex tap-dancing routines (part of which are done in one take) in which they climb walls, jump on chairs and couches and land flat on the floor and they do it while radiating joy. With this kind of performances it isn't a problem to believe people will suddenly burst into song. When your feelings are so gigantic and absolute, what other option do you have but to start dancing?
Kelly's performance of the titular song, for example, is a masterclass in this respect. It is one of the happiest moments in the history of cinema, sold by a performance that encapsulates the joie-de-vivre of the film and contains my pick for best shot: