Friday, September 13, 2013

Truth in Cinema

Kelly taking advantage of soundless production: "You Reptile..."
When I watch Singin' in The Rain I forget other movies and actors exist. It's like talent wasn't born after 1952. More happens in the first ten minutes...more is shown, exposed, alluded to than most movies dream about. Not only is the premise (Hollywood transitions to talking movies) ambitious, but the musical numbers are both a parody of themselves and showstoppers. It's like an homage and satire and blockbuster all in one. If David Mamet wrote a musical comedy it would look like Singin' in The Rain. It's hard to believe Debbie Reynolds was 20 years old when she played Kathy Selden. Gene Kelly was 40. I'm in awe when I watch this movie.

While fashion goes in horrifying cycles, by-gone styles of cinema are harder to recreate. Every few years a musical comedy comes and goes and maybe the talent is there but the directors don't trust the talent. Or the story doesn't contribute anything. It's all glitter and hyper editing. The frantically upbeat Donald O'Connor "Make 'em Laugh" number, on the other hand, is cut in real time so it's watchable. The delightful "Good Morning" trio is cleverly edited so it seems like a single cut. Editors in 1952 really took pity on us members of the audience. If you missed something it was probably because you weren't paying attention. I remember watching a Mission: Impossible movie and actually not knowing what was going on for at least 75 minutes. It was like snorting a box of Milk Duds.
But the whole Singin' movie is probably a single camera affair. How is that possible? Talent and planning. If you have either of these skills please make movies.

But the best part of this movie is the admitted falsity of the lives behind the gossip within the imagined world so it becomes a knowing wink at a repulsive movie sub-industry. And the pace is faster than a James Bond thriller. Couples had babies to make in 1952; they couldn't waste time at the movies.

Happy Endings

A filmmaker buddy once said to me, "Making a good movie is like threading ten needles at once."
They did that and more with Singin' In The Rain.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.