Saturday, April 13, 2013

Another Nomination for Best of . . .

So what is a musical? Musicals are an American art form. they were developed in theater as early as 1866. Originally musicals had four elements: a story that integrated dialogue with music, lyrics, and dancing. The first musical is considered to be The Black Crook which premiered in New York. Broadway and the London stage both became popular by featuring musicals that appealed to a more general audience than did opera. Musicals were typically lighter in tone, more frank and sometimes bawdy. It was composers W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan (a.k.a. Gilbert and Sullivan) who brought widespread popularity to the form with their 1878 hit, The H.M.S. Pinafore. Today's musicals are plays or movies in which music, singing and often dancing play a major part.

This week's selection for the 'Best of the Best' is Gene Kelly's Singin' in the Rain in the film of the same name. The MGM film musical (1952) directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly is one of the most celebrated of all time; ranked #5 on the American Film Institute's 2007 list of Greatest American Films and is AFI's top ranked musical of all time (2006).

The movie focused on an original story set in the late 1920s during the age of the coming of the 'talkies.' The film's title sequence has become movie legend with Gene Kelly (Playing the 20's movie star Don Lockwood) singing and dancing in a downpour, swinging his umbrella around, stomping in puddles and leaping onto a lampost. His on-screen romantic partner was Lina Lamont, played by Jean Hagen. Donald O'Connor played Don Lockwood's friend and sidekick Cosmo Brown. Nineteen year old Debbie Reynolds playrd ingenue dancer and aspiring actress Kathy Selden. The trio (Kelly, O'Connor and Reynolds) later sang the popular song Good Mornin'.

See and listen to part of a 1979 interview by Roddy McDowall at KCET in Los Angeles (7:20 length); Gene Kelly talked about the song and film in a PBS Pledge Drive program. 

Singin' in the Rain did not win an Oscar, but today it would be chosen blindfolded over the 1952 winner of Best Picture: The Greatest Show on Earth. By consensus of movie critics and lovers, Singin in the Rain is the greatest musical ever.

Singin' in the Rain - The song lyrics were by Arthur Freed with music by Nacio Herb Brown (1929). More about the song at Wikipedia: Singin' in the Rain (Song).


I'm singing in the rain
Just singing in the rain
What a glorious feelin'
I'm happy again

I'm laughing at clouds
So dark up above
The sun's in my heart
And I'm ready for love

Let the stormy clouds chase
Everyone from the place
Come on with the rain
I've a smile on my face

I walk down the lane
With a happy refrain
Just singin',
Singin' in the rain

Dancin' in the rain
Dee-ah dee-ah dee-ah

I'm happy again!

I'm dancin' and singin' in the rain...

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