Having missed the opportunity to watch the live performance of this musical at the Marina Bay Sands theatre recently, I grabbed the DVD when I spotted it on the library shelves. I am so glad I did!
This 1951 movie, starring Gene Kelly (who was also co-director), Donald O’Connor (whose performance here won him a Golden Globe for Best Actor in 1952) , Debbie Reynolds and Jean Hagen (who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance here), is a hilarious comedy that contains a romantic story as well as many wonderful songs and dances, even a ballet and a full orchestra. Debbie Reynold’s singing (and dancing) and the nifty footwork in the dance routines of Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor are truly outstanding.
The story takes place at a time when Hollywood movies are turning into talkies. Some interesting elocution lessons involve lines like, “Around the rocks are rugged rascal men”, “Sinful Caesar snipped his sifter, seized his knees and sneezed”, and “Chester chooses chestnuts, cheddar cheese with chewy chives. He chews them and he chooses them. He chooses them and he chews them, those chestnuts, cheddar cheese and chives in cheery, chestnuts drinks”.
There are many lovely songs and I resolve to get hold of the music scores soon as I now know only one – the famous title song. I would also be on the lookout for other musicals mentioned, like ‘The Jazz Singer’ and ‘Ziegfield Follies”.
Though this movie was made more than half a century ago, it is absolutely charming, enjoyable and entertaining. It was entered into the US National Film Registry in 1989, and on the American Film Institute’s Movie lists – 10th Greatest in 1998, 16th Funniest in 2000 and 16th Passionate in 2002. I wonder if there would be a remake of this gem anytime soon. I hope so.