On Wednesday night, I had the opportunity to catch the second showing of TCM’s presentation of Singin’ in the Rain on the big screen. I was very excited because I had to miss out on the first screening due to work, and was able to go this time around. I was also lucky because I ended up with tickets from both The Lady Eve and Jill and Michael, who are co-hosting the TCM Summer Under the Stars blogathon. So big thanks go out to them for the opportunity!
I gave two of my tickets to my friend Sam, who took her boyfriend Eldon out for a classic movie date night. Below is her experience which she was kind enough to send me. They both had seen the movie before, but a long time ago:
When a friend won an extra pair of tickets to last Wednesday’s Fathom Events’s 60th Anniversary of “Singin’ in the Rain” and offered them to me so my boyfriend and I could have a coveted date night, I was pretty excited. Sitting in the theater on the appointed night, though, with limited exposure to the 50’s movie musicals, I was not quite sure what to expect. Was this something we’d enjoy? Had I just dragged my boyfriend some place he didn’t want to be? However, once Robert Osborne and Debbie Reynolds were done discussing the atmosphere while filming, the lights dimmed and I was swept up into the screen. The cheeky sense of humor that the cast displayed broke the fourth wall between screen and audience, leaving us engaged throughout the film. The performance seemed almost live, with the audience clapping after musical numbers and “ooh-ing” and “ahh-ing” appropriately.
I laughed the hardest at the difficulties that Lina Lamont and Don Lockwood had transitioning between their silent fame and into the “talkies” world. Even more than the “I can’t make love to a bush!” line, I couldn’t help giggling over the sound fading in and out at the preview of “The Dueling Cavalier” as Lina delivers her lines in the garden.
Reflecting on the entire experience, though, what I enjoyed most was, well, the dancing! I marveled over the technicality of the moves (having no experience in tap and two left feet) and was wowed by the physicality and strength behind them. The famous veil scene was beautiful and breath-taking, the tap scenes invigorating, and who hasn’t wanted to step over a couch with the grace and precision of Kelly, Reynolds and O’Connor in “Good Morning, Good Morning”?
The movie was wonderful, and I’m glad to have seen it with such a giving audience. When I asked my boyfriend what he thought, he simply replied, “It was great! Can we take tap dancing?”
I had been hoping to take my sister with me, as we are both huge fans of the movie. It’s that movie for us, the one where you know all the words to the songs and all the jokes. She wasn’t able to get off of work, so I asked my “movie buddy” Kevin to come with. I met Kevin in college, and we’ve been good friends ever since. He’s a filmmaker, so I know he’s always up to go to any film, whether it be a classic, foreign, indie or just strange.
When we got to the theater, it was fairly full, and by show time I think we had close to a full house. There was a mix of all ages, although I would say there were a lot of older couples and groups of older women. We didn’t have any previews, which was kind of nice, just a few advertisements for upcoming Fathom Events, mostly TCM or Broadway show related.
Then the show started, and it was like watching TCM at home, just on a much larger screen. There was Robert Osborne, giving us a great intro to the film. I loved all the little clips from past interviews with Donald O’ Connor, Cyd Charisse and Gene Kelly’s widow, Patricia Ward Kelly. But Debbie Reynolds stole the show with her interview from this past year’s TCM film festival. In addition to her stories from the set, Debbie was her usual charming and funny self. She truly is a gem.
We were given a warning that the film would be shown in its original aspect ratio, probably to tell anyone not familiar with older films that there would be black bars on each side (apparently people freaked out when they went to see The Artist and the same thing happened). I can say that I am a person who is pretty concerned with the death of 35mm projection, but this restoration, projected digitally without a hitch, was a pleasure to watch.
After seeing a ton of blockbuster films over the last few months, it was refreshing to be in a theater with people who were respectful movie watchers. There wasn’t any talking, kids running down the aisle, people kicking the back of my chair, etc., and that was extremely nice. Everyone was engaged from the beginning, laughing hard at the humorous parts, awed by the dance routines, and clapping at end of the film.
I can say that I’ve seen this film a lot, and it never gets old for me. I would say, having recently seen The Band Wagon and many of those other top MGM musicals, that this is the one I would say is the best of all. It touches on Hollywood history that at the time wasn’t really that far in the past, and does it in such a way that it’s funny to those who understand what that transition to sound was like but also to those who have little knowledge of film history. It’s got that bright, technicolor atmosphere, and everything just pops off the screen.
The talent in this film is insane. Gene Kelly found a perfect partner in Donald O’Connor, and they look fantastic on screen together. I used to always think that either the vaudeville talent was off the roof back then or those people were crazy in booing those guys off the stage in the Fit As a Fiddle number. Those single foot wings and Russian kicks show a great level of skill and strength. I think that’s why I always say Moses Supposes is probably my favorite number out of a film that is chalk full of great numbers. It’s hard to find tap duets in musicals where both actors are such strong dancers that they can do a number that shows off just how good they can be. It’s so fast, so in synch and so clean in rhythm.
Jean Hagen is wonderful as air-headed diva Lina Lamont, and it’s a shame that her career never really took off to stardom after this great turn. As Debbie Reynolds said in her interview, she was very suited to playing the young ingenue, this being her first big starring role, and she fits perfectly.
All in all, it was a great way to see a movie I love in a new way. I hope I get to catch more of these kinds of screenings, as it’s always a treat to see a classic film on the big screen. Thank you again to both The Lady Eve and Jill and Michael for making this possible!