Singin' In The Rain
I may be a little late to the party on this one.
You can’t live a human life and not, at the bare minimum, be aware that this film exists. When I was growing up (in the ‘80s, for anyone keeping track), I’d heard the swish-swaying melody plenty of times. Maybe not on the radio, but certainly I was treated to a line or verse whilst caught in some unforeseen drizzle or downpour with my Mom.
I'm singin' in the rain
Just singin' in the rain
What a glorious feeling
I'm happy again
I mean, come on! How can those lyrics and that classic, flowing melody not make you smile? Come to think of it, Mom also used to sing a super-truncated version of “Good Mornin’, Good Mornin’” to rouse me from pre-adolescent sleep. Of course, being unaware to the brilliance and depth of this near-perfect movie, I grumbled and rolled out of bed begrudgingly to face another day of elementary or middle school. These are but two early memories of a film that I sort of knew about but had no interest in learning more. As a young boy with plenty of other crucial stuff on my mind, you might expect that this would be a perfectly reasonable approach to a movie that was nearly three decades old by the time I was born. That would make sense, yes, except that I definitely had a period there in my teens where I was admittedly obsessed with Fred Astaire for some reason.
A Love Affair With Fred Astaire
There are things in my past that were done or experienced either for my pure enjoyment or because they were of a weirdo avant-garde ilk. My Fred Astaire phase of long ago fit nicely into both those self-actualized categories. I can’t tell you what my first introduction to that dancin’ phenom was. My best guess is that I was a Film Freak with two capital Fs. Blockbuster was my home away from home and I raided my friends’ parents’ VHS collections on a regular basis. Yet still, I don’t think I found Top Hat or Royal Wedding in either of those places. Harrumph, this origin story shall forever remain a mystery.
Astaire blew me away. I wasn’t into dancing but he moved like liquid across a room. In fact, in the aforementioned Royal Wedding, he danced up a wall and onto the ceiling! Whaaa? How did he do that?! What’s more, my man was debonair. Or at least his characters were. He was a smooth operator, the likes of which I’d never seen. (At the time, I was also blind to the existence of Brando’s early years. Later in life, I would watch A Streetcar Named Desire and On The Waterfront and just lose my friggin’ mind over his unearthly acting abilities. Not to mention his swagger. But that’s a digression within a digression so let’s leave Brando for now.)
Though my memory is spotty about much, I do know I had this unjustified, asinine belief that, being a Fred Astaire man, I could never treat myself to a Gene Kelly flick. I conjured up this dumdum notion that you could either be with one or the other. Beatles or Stones. Pepsi or Coke. Grape jelly or strawberry. Streisand or Metallica. You can only bunk in one camp. Well guess what? All these tit or tat examples are bogus too, because all are delicious! My entire life I’ve been depriving myself of this magical movie! (We’re still talkin’ Singin’ In The Rain, right?)
Having at long last watched it for the first time the other day with my 19-month-old son, I’m glad I have at long last overcome my ridiculous Fred Astaire exclusivity. It’s so silly that I almost can’t believe I ever lived that life of self-inflicting naiveté. Oh, Bryon!
A Clockwork Predisposition
Also in the my teenage years, I fell into a bad crowd of imaginary droogs. What can I say? Kubrick fascinated me. His movies still do. If 2001: A Space Odyssey bores you then we probably shouldn’t be friends. If you’ve never seen Barry Lyndon because well, you’ve never heard of it, then I might be keen to set you straight. But when it comes to A Clockwork Orange, almost anyone who has had their globules pried open to viddy the film will tell you that the very thought of some of those scenes of ultra-violence bring a disturbing, uncomfortable-like feeling in their gully-wuvers. How’d that sound? Am I close? It’s been awhile.
Alex singing “Singin’ In The Rain.” <Gulp.>
His face and his sinister delivery are etched in my brain. It’s always been his voice I heard when the chorus filled my head, up until now.
It’s crazy that that would be my first meaningful and highly memorable introduction to the classic song. It’s grotesque, yes, of course it is. But Clockwork, by its own right is probably as much a masterpiece as Singin’ In The Rain, albeit an entirely different genre, time, and even world setting. That movie (and book) are a part of me. Together with the carefully invented language structure and character study of a turned inside-out villain, the far-fetched yet always attainable, timeless plot makes this one story that will forever inspire me.
A Splashing Trio
No! I did not set out to write this bloggy about Alex’s hypnotic hold over me. Nor Astaire’s magical tap dancing hypnotism. Let us return to the worthy cinematic discussion of the hour!
Now that I’ve seen one Gene Kelly joint, I imagine there are a few others I need to experience. I’m sure I’ll get around to An American In Paris sometime in the next 20 years. I’d watch it right now except I can’t find it for free on the one streaming platform I’ve tried and my local Blockbuster is closed for the night so I guess I’m out of luck.
Seeing that my own kid enjoyed Singin’ In The Rain nearly as much as I did, I should seek Kelly’s other films out before my son grows up and goes to college. <— Small tear for my distant future.
Or maybe it was Debbie Reynolds whom the boy was enamored with? I’d never seen her in anything else and oh my gosh was she entertaining!
And don’t get me started on Donald O’Connor. He rounds out the trio with his energetic sense of humor. I’d be willing to bet that if I’d ever seen bits or clips of Kelly’s hypnotic splash dance number then I must have also seen snippets of O’Connor’s tour de force extravaganza that is “Make ‘em Laugh.” It’s classic slapstick for the ages and it still holds up today.
Despite what the movie poster and film’s opening teaser would have us believe, Gene Kelly is the only star who actually sings and dances in the aforementioned rain. That’s just fine as I don’t think that wet street could handle any more perfection. And his smooth moves were brought on by his amorous feelings being reciprocated. Legend has it that Kelly had a 103 fever when he performed the iconic scene. How, man? Answer: He must be some kind of god.
Too much? I’m not so sure. Like I said, I’ve only seen it once. Apparently, it’s a global tradition for folks to watch Singin’ In The Rain every year on March 24. That's Kelly’s character Don’s lucky day. I’ll try to remember to watch it again on that date next year.
If you take nothing else from this bloggy today, know this: Moses supposes erroneously.