How the Musical Genre is Incorporated in Singin’ in the Rain (1952) By Director Gene Kelly
The musical genre can be described as a utopian form that lyrically poses a solution to the individual’s problems in response to the real needs created by society (Telotte 36).The evolution of musicals peaked in 1936 while Hollywood cinema produced various feature- length musicals.These fictional narratives carried self- expressions of characters singing and dancing anywhere in the scene.
Musicals are successfully organized by the tension of self and society in marriage of narrative and number.
This can be found in the song and dance the characters react to in musicals. As Louis Althusser once said, “It is how we imagine what we desire or believe things to be” (Telotte 36). Thesis (highlighted in yellow): In Singin’ in the Rain, Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen effectively incorporate the musical genre by the use of sound, acting, and costumes.
Gene Kelly incorporates the use of sound into Singin’ in the Rain by using sound recording to pick up noises such as the cameras, murmuring of the cast and crew, and the radio. The use of sound in this musical has a profound effect on the songs sung and danced by the characters. There are a total of twelve musical numbers in this film, supporting the primary storyline. The first musical number sung in the film is “Singin’ in the Rain”, which produces the idea of a sound cinema.
Musicals provide a transition from narrative action to a musical number. This occurs when Don kisses Kathy goodnight on the porch step. Don asserts, “Really? From where I stand the sun is shining all over the place.” Don walks down the street, then breaks out into song and dance. Don uses the dreary weather as a way to express his happiness by singing and dancing in the rain while other are covering their heads with newspapers.
The rain dampens the other passerby’s, whose emotional states are caused by the harsh weather (Belton 146). Later on, Don performs another musical, “You Were Meant for Me” on an empty sound stage with artificial lighting, props, and scenery. This musical sequence shows Don expressing his feelings and love to Kathy by singing to her. By Don becoming more comfortable in asserting his feelings with Kathy, he says “I love you, I love you” in The Dueling Cavalier scene.
This leads to the final musical number in the film, “You Are My Lucky Star”. Don and Kathy duet together in this sequence with the scene ending in front of a monumental billboard. As Janice La Pointe- Crump best said, “It’s a denouement of unity and harmony that opposes energy that sparked the film” (Crump 68).
As Kathy stated in Singin’ in the Rain, acting refers to having great parts and wonderful lines, speaking those glorious words. Acting is portrayed in Singin’ in the Rain by the characters breaking out into song and dance. Cosmo attempts to cheer up Don by performing his “Make “Em Laugh’ routine. Cosmo grabs the readers’ attention from the very beginning on his routine. This sequence combines comic entertainment and acrobatics while Cosmo dances around the studio.
The comic parts include Cosmo dances into a brick wall, runs up walls, and fights with a mannequin. “Cosmo’s creativity appears endless as he improvises out of normal objects and makes his whole environment come alive in the most unexpected way” (Chumo II 48). In the “Good Mornin” routine, Cosmo, Don, and Kathy all join together to dance and sing in celebration to save the film “The Dueling Cavalier”. With Kathy’s infectious singing voice, the group skips down the stairs, struts around the kitchen, and tap dances to the song “Good Mornin”.
The meaning of this pivotal scene in the film is that morning comes a new day can be started with a positive attitude. Kathy starts off the scene by saying it’s a beautiful morning. As the light gets brighter with the sun shining through the windows, Don and Cosmo join in through song and dance.
In “Moses Supposes”, Don and Cosmo are being taught how to properly speak by a diction coach for their first talking musical. Suddenly, the two actors break out into a dance. “Moses Supposes, thus suggesting that dance itself needs no world, that the highest communication occurs in movement, not the rigid movement of silent films but rather the fluid movement of dance” (Chumo II 51).
This musical sequence allows Don to relieve the stress he has been experiencing from learning how to say the tongue twisters his diction coach made. Cosmo imitating the diction in this scene is a comical part of the film. Don and Cosmo began singing “Moses Supposes” which in fact in a tongue twister, making the diction more enjoyable.
The costumes in this film provides a central focus point on the main characters. Lina Lamont and Kathy Seldon have very different costumes compared to one another. For instance, in “You Were Meant For Me” musical sequence Kathy is wearing an ice blue dress with handkerchief hemlines (Ewin). Kathy’s wardrobe grabs the audiences’ attention as they begin to focus on her specifically. In the “Good Mornin”, Kathy is wearing a very simply, elegant gray and dark blue dress.
On the other hand, Lina dresses for fame with glitzy, flashy, and flamboyant clothing. At the premiere of the new Monumental Pictures film, Lina is wearing a glamorous white dress with fur around her neck, accompanying her dangling silver earrings. While everyone gather’s at R.F.’s house for cake, Lina is dressed in a sparkling green dress with beaded tassels as her silver earrings, bracelet, and headband shimmer in the lighting.
Kathy dresses in a more modest way, while Lina wants to out do herself, showing as much attention as possible. Don exemplifies a sophisticated personality by wearing expensive suits throughout the entire musical film. At the premiere of Don and Lina’s new film, Don is wearing a tan suit complimenting his nice and bright white hat with a tan trench coat covering his wardrobe.
In “Fit as a Fiddle”, Don and Cosmo are dressed up in a flashy green plaid suits with a green hats and white shoes to match.Their costumes fit the fast paced music they are dancing along to while playing a fiddle.
Don Lockwood, Lina Lamont, Kathy Seldon, and Cosmo Brown star in a magnificent 1952 musical, Singin’ in the Rain. The film begins with Don and Lina arriving at the premiere of The Royal Rascal. In 1927, after great success, silent film stars, Don and Lina, turned to “talkie” musical films.
Lina has a high- pitched speaking voice, presenting poor diction when practicing for a film. While backstage, Don’s love interest, Kathy, anonymously performs Lina’s speaking and singing parts. The audience became so enchanted during the premiere of The Dancing Cavalier, afterwards they asked Lina to sing on stage.
She takes on this challenge and sings while Kathy is behind her backstage singing as well. When the filmmaker pulls the curtain, the world finds out who Lina really is. The ending suggests Don is free of Lina while he and Kathy go on to make sensational musical films.
Musicals contain the idea of realism as characters break into song and dance. Their realistic world is shown as they are breaking free, producing a transition of registers. Musicals also provide an emotional life in the film. A lift is an experience of ecstatic pleasure that we associate with most musical numbers (Belton 133).
The lift in the scene “Singin’ in the Rain” occurs when Don unfolds his umbrella and starts to dance even more. He truly feels a sense of happiness with no worries in the world. Don sings, “Come on with the rain. I have a smile on my face.” The lyrics of the song clarify the joy that Don feels in defiance of the gloomy weather (Belton 146). Kelly works within this genre by integrating dancing and singing into the storyline of Singin’ in the Rain.
His family has found pleasure through dancing and singing as they opened a dance studio during the Great Depression. Kelly worked in the studio by performing entertainment and shows. Gene Kelly provided element of space, time, energy, rhythm, and flow to his dance choreography. “Cinema dance speaks visually, kinetically, and kinesthetically to cement the viewer’s ability to connect with the character and the story on a personal and metaphysical level.
To accomplish this, Kelly recognized that the camera must be fused with the dance” (Crump, 65). The musicals in Singin’ in the Rain produce a variety of technical aspects including ballet, modern dance, tap dance, and Euro-western folk steps with energetic, funny, and meaningful routines. Kelly is truly motivated to teach others new concepts of a musical world. This can be viewed when the characters are dancing as the audience is alerted and attracted to a new experience. Creative imagery and style is exerted
The technical aspects in Singin’ in the Rain consist of mise en scene, camera movement, and invisible editing. Mise en scene is shown in Singin’ in the Rain during the musical sequence “You Were Meant for Me.” Don prepares to express his love for Kathy, but it is hard for him to admit. “Confessing that he is such a “ham” and need the “proper setting,” he takes her from a bright sunlit exterior into a dark interior- a deserted motion picture stage” (Belton 131).
Don sets the stage with a fog machine and bright sunset. Kathy is placed at the top of a step ladder as Don stands near the bottom. As Kathy is shining in the moonlight with a lamp, a wind machine blows her beautiful hair backwards. This is the perfect setting for Don to express his feelings to Kathy.
The camera movement in this film provides the viewers with a magnificent understanding of how the characters can be perceived. For example, a long shot occurs when a billboard for Monumental Pictures is shown while Don and Kathy are standing under the sign expressing affectionate love for one another. J.P. Telotte asserts, “The play of foreground and background detail here suggests a subtle disparity: between the real world and the film between an embrace and the social promise of harmony which the movies holds out, ultimately between individual and public desires” (Telotte).
The camera movements combine various shots into one, describing a concept of invisible editing. Invisible editing is shown throughout the musical sequences in Singin’ in the Rain. For example, “You Were Meant for Me” was completed in merely four quick shots. The first shot occurs when Don begins to sing in the musical sequence.
The other three shots arise when all the characters are seen dancing as the camera moves close and far away from them. The camera begins to zoom out which makes the cuts of the scene less noticeable. Invisible editing allows the audience to view the scene as one complete shot rather than multiple different ones.
Singin’ in the Rain is a Hollywood musical produced in 1952. Gene Kelly created Singin’ in the Rain by executing aspects of sound, acting, costumes, mise en scene, camera movement, and invisible editing. In this film, the musical genre and the music merges into comedic sequences, romantic segments, tap and ballet dances, acrobatics, and a lasting impression on the audience.
Kelly substantially arranged this film to leave the audience with a sense of happiness and a fell good attitude. The musical sequences generated in Singing’ in the Rain have made this film iconic and well known still in today’s society.