Movie Review - Singin' in the Rain

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Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Loew's, MGM

When you hear the word "musical" as a noun, there are dozens of movies and Broadway shows that might come to mind. Most of them have a big name backing them: Rogers and Hammerstein, Berlin, Lloyd-Webber. Then there is the other kind of musical, which stands on its own merit; the kind that posterity will remember, not because it remembers who wrote it, but because of its wit, its charm, its musical brilliance, and for the strength of its story. People remember loving Singin' in the Rain, and they are teaching their children and grandchildren to love it now. Why? I'm not sure.
Singin' in the Rain was made back during the era of multi-talented celebrities. You didn't have to build a grand publicity campaign to cross over from one entertainment industry to another, and you could start your career singing and dancing and acting all at once. Singin' in the Rain was also made during an era of generally higher artistic standards. Singing meant more than combining the right words with the right pitch; dancing meant more than moving to a rhythm. And dancing (when it didn't mean Fred Astaire) meant Gene Kelly. His dancing is the impetus behind Singin' in the Rain's lasting success, I presume. At least, take away the dancing and you leave a fairly weak story about very shallow characters who do little more than sing about highly irrelevant subjects. With or without the dancing, however, those things remain in their state of mediocrity. So, how much are we willing to sacrifice in the sexual content and worldview categories, in order to satisfy our interest in tap dancing?

Hollywood. The very setting of the story, while it maybe shouldn't exactly alarm us, ought to at least make us sit up a little straighter, and pay a little more attention. It is a city of corruption, immorality, godlessness, and great talents - the capitol of subversive media. Just because the movie makes you feel like you're getting a confidential glimpse of the less glamorous real lives of the Hollywood elite, doesn't mean you are. A message from the directors: Hollywood is a good place to build your career. A message from the song writers: Broadway, with all its immorality, is a great place to build your career.

Singin' in the Rain is full of messages, whether you realize it or not. The top twenty, for instance:

1. Self-inflicted pain is funny.
2. Name calling is a suave, witty way to express displeasure.
3. A strong romance can be built without any meaningful conversation.
4. A strong romance can actually be built on a foundation of ill-feeling.
5. Career = Fame.
6. Fame = Fulfillment.
7. Mockery is a natural expression of superiority.
8. Casinos are fun, exciting places.
9. A kiss has no inherent meaning.
10. Deliberate destruction of private property is amusing.
11. Family members are not significant.
12. Telling someone under contract to do something they don't really want to do is immoral.
13. Magazines are shallow and deceptive, but are still a generally innocent form of amusement.
14. Building two separate Hollywood careers within one marriage is a good idea.
15. Acting up, goofing off, and other signs of immaturity are clever.
16. Prohibition was a bad idea, so violating it is a good thing.
17. Harassment, humiliation and misfortune are funny, as long as they happen to the right person.
18. You should buy Mahout cigarettes.
19. What happens on the screen is not real life, so anything goes.
20. The proper way to deal with an irritating person is to take revenge.
Sexual Content:
I stopped counting the bare shoulders, backs, legs and bosoms after the first twenty "note worthy" costumes, about half an hour into the film. A detailed description of their literal short-comings would be too long and repetitive to be helpful, but the immodesty is excessive, both in costume and deportment. Being exposed to that much for that long has an interesting effect on a viewer. By the halfway point, you start thinking to yourself, "Well that one's actually fairly modest. After all, the neckline is only four inches below the collarbone, and the skirt is only eight inches above the knee." The best word for the effect is "desensitization", and I can't claim to be above it.

Not that this is so comparatively important, but I thought I'd mention that the main character kisses three different women a total of eleven times in the course of the film.

Well, if it is the dancing that makes
Singin' in the Rain what it is, it would be a pity to neglect it. The dance numbers—at least, all the ones that involve women—were arranged for the same purpose that the costumes served: to draw as much attention to the female body as possible without marketing the movie to a different kind of audience. Frankly, I submit that if we were honest, we would be shocked and indignant to see our fathers, husbands, brothers and sons placidly watching, let alone participating, as the male characters do, in dances that vulgar, fleshy and intentionally seductive in real life. I frankly suggest that we should be shocked and indignant if we see them placidly watching dances like that on the screen. However, I humbly admit this is an easy thing for me to say, because my father and brother walked out.

Singin' in the Rain is not going to show women any more than they have already seen in other movies, but I think that other women are generally about as liable to desensitization as I am, and I spent the entire one hundred and three minutes taking notes. There may be one out there, somewhere, but I can't think of any good reason for a woman to endure the over-exposure, and enjoying it is out of the question. It is my opinion that there is no good reason for a Christian man to see a movie like this.
If all—and I mean, the only thing—you care about seeing is the tap dancing, Singin' in the Rain is really top-notch. If, on the other hand, you'd care to see clothing on the dancers, as well, I suggest you keep searching. You might look for a more interesting story line, too.

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