On its 60th anniversary, 'Singin' in the Rain' earns singin' praises from Utahns

By Blair Howell

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, July 8 2012 4:00 p.m. MDT

Gene Kelly as Don Lockwood, Debbie Reynolds as Kathy Selden and Donald O'Connor as Cosmo Brown during the opening musical number, "Singin' in the Rain."

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Gene Kelly gleefully splish-splashing in a downpour as he’s “Singin’ in the Rain.” The cheerful Charleston dance Debbie Reynolds performs in “All I Do Is Dream of You.” Donald O'Connor’s hysterical routine to “Make ’Em Laugh.” And as a dim-bulb blonde, Jean Hagen blissfully declaring, “If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, it makes us feel as though our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'.”

Topping the American Film Institute’s list of Greatest Movie Musicals and ranking No. 5 among the Top 100 Movies, “Singin’ in the Rain” remains as fresh, vibrant and thoroughly entertaining today as it was 60 years ago at its original release. To celebrate the anniversary, the landmark film will grace the silver screen in a one-day-only national screening by Fathom Events, including showings at 11 Utah theaters, on July 12, with a commemorative DVD release on July 17.

To mark the occasion, the Deseret News asked Utah’s film scholars, rabid fans and movie buffs to comment on the undeniable charm of "Singin' in the Rain."

Dr. James D’Arc, curator, BYU Motion Pictures Archive; author, “When Hollywood Came to Town: The History of Moviemaking in Utah:”

"Singin' in the Rain" celebrates the heritage of the movies and of movement as a central ingredient of the musical genre. The "Singin' in the Rain" dance sequence features the camera itself as a "character" in the film as in no other film prior to it. The sequence not only shows Kelly dancing his way down a city street immersed in a downpour as he uses his umbrella as a dance partner, but the camera pans, cranes up and down, dollies in and out and gives this centerpiece performance a dynamic sense of liberation and buoyant joy as nothing else could. In the 60 years since it was released, "Singin' in the Rain" has never failed to delight audiences.

James C. Christian, director of musical theater studies at Weber State University:

Two words: Cyd Charisse! Her double-edged performance in the "Broadway Melody" sequence as both "angel" and "devil" set the standard for dancing women in Hollywood. Even as a young boy, I thought that she was the hottest thing I'd ever seen on the big screen. Still do. And the movie has a few more things to offer: Donald O'Connor's phenomenal "Make 'Em Laugh" has never been equaled as a comic and dance tour de force; the trio of O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly frolicking in the exuberant "Good Morning" may be the singularly most infectious musical number in Hollywood history; Rita Moreno, in a featured cameo as Zelda Zanders, holds a soft spot for me because I had the opportunity of sitting down with her for lunch at Weber State several years ago. Classy then ... classy now.

Karen Azenberg, artistic director, Pioneer Theatre Company:

I love “Singin’ in the Rain” because it expresses the magic of love and the magic of movies and dance — and, with Gene Kelly, it’s two hours of total bliss! Sigh...

David Smith, actor:

I grew up watching “Singin' in the Rain,” laughing and smiling at the amazing performance by Donald O'Connor as Cosmo Brown. That man was funny. He could sing. He could dance. He could play the piano. And he gave and gave and gave to his audience as an actor. I had the opportunity to play this role at the Hale Center Theater Orem, and it is one of the greatest performing experiences I've ever had the chance to be a part of. “Singin' in the Rain” takes you away, makes you forget about your troubles and makes you want to sing and dance. What a wonderful gift “Singin' in the Rain” is.

Dr. Christopher Clark, assistant professor, Utah Valley University:

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