Oscar History

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Aug 15 2012

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Singin' in the Rain"

I'm multi-tasking with this,the penultimate episode of Season 3 ofHit Me With Your Best Shot,the series wherein we choose the single best shot of pre-selected movies and discuss.Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen's masterpieceSingin' in the Rain(1952) is also a member ofmy personal canon(top ten to be exact) and we're using it to kick off ourGene Kelly CentennialCelebration.I'll be looking at a few more Kelly features next week,but we're starting with his greatest achievement.Weirdly the far inferiorAn American in Pariswhich directly precededSingin'won Oscar's heart with ease and yet they ignored this one.'I caaaannnnt stan' it').

"Monumental Pictures"...Yep.It sure stands tall among them!

Singin' in the Rainmore than earns its reputation as 'the happiest movie ever made.'  I am reasonably certain that I could write aboutSingin' in the Rainevery day for a year andstillnot run out of things to say.I'm already sad that this article will not include an ode to Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen SO deserved the Oscar and nabbed one of the film's two nominations.Only two!) or an examination of the largely unheralded  "All I Do is Dream of You"number which I love beyond all reason and would be the best number in most musicals but is just a little toss off here.

All things considered,the film is lighter than air and swift on its feet both of which are jaw-dropping accomplishments since it's actually incredibly dense.Take the structure for a prime example: this movie about the history of movies (and,oh so casually,the DNA strands the medium borrows from the stage) starts with a premiere of a movie and then flashes back to previous (multiple) films before moving forward to become a movie about the making of new movie which too closely resembles the previous movie "if you've seen one,you've seen 'em all"which then gets rewritten as an entirely different movie with another movie embedded inside of it !!!After all of that,it ends with a poster of a movie that's yet to come...or is possibly the movie we've just watched.Whew.(It's got as many dream layers asInception,Synecdoche New Yorkor a David Lynch movie but way less fussiness about them.)

"and I'm ready for love ♪"- usually my choice for "best shot"or at least the moment which I fall the hardest for Gene Kelly each time

Singin' in the Rain's killer combination of joyful buoyancy,masculine athleticism and artistic grace as it leaps from scene to scene are perfectly paralleled in the face,body,and talent of Gene Kelly himself.Kelly is one of my two all time favorite male movie stars,the other being Montgomery Clift.As I watched the movie for the umpteenth time today it suddenly occurred to me that the two of them are a perfect bipolar representation of my own very particular Gemini cinephilia;they're my beautiful big screen avatars of Joy and Despair.

My "Best Shot"choice last night

I bring this up because,curiously,for the first time while watchingSingin' in the RainI felt a wave of sudden sadness hit me.I was grinning from ear to ear as "Good Morning"began (the only sane response knowing the bliss to come from the scene's inventive choreography,perfect tripled performance and fluid feeling) when suddenly my eyes welled up and stayed that way for the entire number.This had never happened to me before!As Cosmo,Kathy and Don collapsed on the couch in a big heap of giggling,I felt as simultaneously elated and exhausted as the characters were meant to and as the actors might have been after multiple takes (so few cuts,somuch dancing!).But I was laughing through tears because they don't make 'em like this anymore.


What a glorious feeling,they're blogging again...
The Family Berzurcher"It's impossible to ignore the ecstasy ofSingin',but it takes movies very seriously."
Dial P For Popcorn"it makes me shiver...it makes me swoon"
Serious Film"continually reframing the dancers,moving them in and out of shadow"
Antagony & Ecstasy"the lies movies tell are part of what makes them workas movies"
Coco Hits NYC"a playfulness that is just magnetic"
Okinawa Assault"a sequence where gray and black dominate,is just as happy as the scenes with brighter colours in them."
Film Actually"the suggestion of sex is never this overt"
Being Norma Jeane"Cosmo and Lina are just beautiful in this movie.So funny,so brilliant."
Sorta That Guy"It made me laugh,made me want to learn tap dancing,and most obviously made me fall in love with Kelly."
Encore's World"Lina,unable to discern the difference between real life and fantasy"
Pussy Goes Grrr"Show biz isnotsophisticated.In fact,it's crude.It's stupid.But perSingin' in the Rain,it's a glorious,outrageous,beautiful kind of stupidity"

And welcome these 'best shot' first timers!
Arf She Said"I love how the whole film opens up as Don's heart expands."
Kelli Marshall"the one shot ofSingin' in the Rainthat gets me every time"
Allison Tooey"looking utterly at ease despite flimsy support"
Lerblacompo"Don and Gene believed in their fantasies so much that it's impossible for us not to believe them,too."

If you didn't participate,tell us about your favorite shot in the film!
Do your feelings line up with any of these joyful to read articles?

[P.S.Next week is the Season 3 finale of "best shot"as we watch "Dog Day Afternoon"together.Best Shot will return in 2013 for a fourth season!Every episode thus far]

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Reader Comments (19)

I'm so in love with this series.I wish it was every week but once a year will have to do.Boo.

August 15,2012 | Unregistered CommenterTaylorRansom

Taylor -- i wish it could be every week too but it's exhausting!lol

August 15,2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

My favorite shot is absolutely the ""Out of sync""Yes - Yes - Yes - Yes"- "No - No - No - No"sequence.It mocks the new sound era in the most humorous possible way.It cracks me up everytime.

August 15,2012 | Unregistered Commentertombeet

tombeet -- YES.that is so very hilarious.but any scene with Lina Lamont is a keeper.

August 16,2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

The dream sequence after dream sequence is fascinating here the same way it is in An American in Paris.And there were some days when I actually like that over Singin.'

August 16,2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaolo

Love this series and love this movie.Wish I could participate,but don't have a website.And Jean Hagen WAS nominated,but lost to Gloria Grahame.

August 16,2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Thanks for the welcome Nathaniel,and thanks for the series!It made me so happy to read the word JOY in everyone else's responses;SITR drills straight down to that place where all the purest feelings are kept.

August 16,2012 | Unregistered Commenterarf_she_said

I have resurrected my long-dead (and painful to read) personal blog for the sole purpose of participating in this.I've flirted with it before,but either didn't have the time to really watch the film,cap a shot,and write something worthy,or didn't feel like it would fit on the blog (I literally started it as a pressure release valve).But this time was different.Here goes nothing: http://lerblacompo.livejournal.com/28246.html

If you had told little 8-year-old me that some day my favorite shot from Singin' In The Rain would be from the dream ballet,he would have slapped you.But as you change,the way you see film changes,and what was once long and boring and had nothing to do with the story now has everything to do with everything and is one of the greatest musical sequences ever filmed.

Now that I've gotten that out of my system,you think I'll be able to get some sleep?

August 16,2012 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

everyone -- I really hope everyone is reading the other pieces because wow this movie brought out some smart analyses and personal revelations in equal measure

denny -- that's how i felt when i finished writing it too."SLEEP AT LAST!".Loved your response aand it's so personal too.

arf -- i couldn't figure out how to comment on your blog but thoroughly enjoyed your write up!

Paolo -- interesting.I thought the "american in paris is much inferior"was something everyone would agree upon.

August 16,2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

oh,thanks for letting me know that!I'm still trying to figure out this new style...

August 16,2012 | Unregistered Commenterarf_she_said

Yeh,I had trouble commenting on arf's as well.I was also intrigued by Don and Cosmo's bromance.

Wonderful writing from everyone.Hope we get another good turnout for Dog Day Afternoon.

August 16,2012 | Unregistered CommenterSquasher88

woe!I've had a go at a temporary fix.Thanks!

August 16,2012 | Unregistered Commenterarf_she_said

I really hope I'm not too late with my own submission.I've linked to it in another post.

Looking forward to seeing what everyone else has picked!

August 16,2012 | Unregistered CommenterAllison Tooey

Allison-- i clicked on your website but i couldn't find the article?Also there is no link in the comment you made on that previous post about the series.feel free to copy and paste a link on to the coments here and i'll add you.

August 16,2012 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I tried,but I guess I messed up the links somehow?Anyway,the link:


Great picks across the board.Perhaps next year you should throw in a Busby Berkley musical just to see what people choose.

August 16,2012 | Unregistered CommenterAllison Tooey


Thanks for that.I really enjoyed writing it,and apparently I needed to;after I finished,I was out like a light!

And thanks for the comment on my entry too!My recent dream is to get an arts "Genius grant"to develop and perform a one-man Singin' In The Rain,just like Alan Cumming did recently with Macbeth at Lincoln Center (which,by the way,was INCREDIBLE.Did you get to see it?).I long for the day when I can do the "All I Do Is Dream of You"dance and throw a piece of cake in my own face!

PS - I could very easily have made my Best Shot Lina with cake on her face.That sight,combined with her vocal reaction,never fails to make me laugh harder than anything else outside of Make 'Em Laugh.

August 16,2012 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I think "Singin' in the Rain"is the superior movie to "An American in Paris."BUT that ballet at the end of "Paris"is just ...gobsmackingly beautiful.I would've almost given the movie the Oscar just for that ballet alone.So I get where Paolo is coming from.

August 16,2012 | Unregistered CommenterCash

I agree with the comments about An American In Paris.The ballet sequence is really ne plus ultra of movie dancing.The rest of the movie is sort of a mess,but really who cares?And if Singin In The Rain had come out before An American In Paris,it probably would have a few more nominations under its belt.

I don't know if I could pick a best shot,but for me,the big Broadway Gotta Dance number is fantastic in the movie and for me doesn't stop the show,but rather reaffirms it.I still get the shivers from Cyd's dancing in this (also in The Bandwagon).And Gene,well,maybe,just maybe he could have worn tighter pants or shorts,but we'll take what we can get,no?;-)

August 16,2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Alamitos Beach

I first saw this movie in a film class in high school,with a bunch of bored all-male high school boys forced to watch an "old"movie.But the sequence with the hidden micriophone and Jean Hagen's caterwauling accent blew the room up.So I have to pick that scene as my favorite in a lovely,hysterical film.

August 16,2012 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267
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