Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Things have been kind of dark around here lately, haven't they? Apologies for that, and a vow to lighten up, at least for now.

I know, I know. Usually when I say that, I'm being hyper-ironic, and I post a clip of an exploding head or something. Not this time. Today I'll present a scene from the best movie of all time, Singin' In The Rain. I tend to bring this movie up a lot around here, and I'm sure I will again, because it's all kinds of awesome. In fact, just talking about it makes me want to watch it again, then write about it some more, to geek out for pages and pages about how effortlessly great it is.

But no time for that. So about this clip--it's by far the least-celebrated number from the film, a total throwaway, but it still shows so much of what makes this a classic: Gene Kelly being a prick (he'll reform shortly after this, but you've gotta love that it allows its main character to be an arrogant jerk for the first fifteen minutes of running time), Debbie Reynolds being insanely adorable (and bonus geek points here, since she is after all Princess Leia's mom!), expert use of the camera, choreography that parodies jazz-age dancing while still showing great affection for the era--and well, I could go on, but let's just get on with it, shall we?

You know what? One number from this movie isn't enough. I've posted it before a long time ago, but here's Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor with a burst of absolute bliss.

And...okay, here's where this happy upbeat post turns a little dark. Not so-bleak-we'll-never-know-joy-again dark, but you'll see. In the years and decades following his work on Singin' In The Rain, Stanley Donen would direct any number of wonderful pictures--Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, The Pajama Game, Charade and the matchless Movie, Movie (still not available on DVD, and I'm going to whine about that any chance I get). One of his very best efforts was the 1967 Peter Cook/Dudley Moore vehicle Bedazzled, which to my mind is one of the greatest comedies ever made. This is a musical number from that film, but it's pretty far from the fizzy joy of Singin' In The Rain. Cook's Drimble Wedge comes off as a sort of precursor to Morrissey, and his chilling ennui set against the airy melody (composed by Moore) is perhaps a bit more resonant than its makers intended. In any event, it is expertly staged and shot by Donen, and though it's intended as a parody of then-contemporary TV pop shows, it has a strange, almost Brechtian quality Donen can claim as his own. A great scene, a great movie.