No, this is not going to be a maudlin essay. In fact, this is an homage, a love letter to my most favoritiest movie ever: "Singin' in the Rain."
My husband, Don and I just returned from seeing the Fathom Events 60th anniversary screening of this classic M.G.M. movie musical. (60th??)
I have written previously about being a latch-key kid whose electronic babysitter was the "Million Dollar Movie" that aired on the local Los Angeles channel 9. Each week they aired a different movie eight times a week. That meant that any of the old musicals--especially the M.G.M. library--I saw eight times a week every time they were broadcast. Some kids grew up reciting Seuss or Pooh, I grew up singing Comden & Green; or Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown. I took great personal pride that each movie began with the august Leo roar because I was an astrological Leo. So I took it as if it was my private connection to these films.
Before the movie began, the wonderful Robert Osborne filmed a pre-show trivia rap and showed an interview with Debbie Reynolds to give personal insight to the making of this film. Most everything he shared or showed I, of course, already knew--as would any other serious fan. But I loved it all just the same. The re-mastered version was even more glorious than I expected. And made even more so by being on the big screen (where it belongs) instead of the varying viewing sizes of the T.V. screens throughout my life.
The audience at the Cinemark tonight was filled with mostly older people who clearly also had an affinity for this film. It was good to see some young'uns there, too. I wondered what it would be like for someone to see this movie for the first time. Would they 'get' it and appreciate the talent and the parody genius? Would they be cognizant of the fact that this film was/is the "Citizen Kane' of musicals and forever changed cinema?
It was wonderful to watch the film and feel the anticipation rise in me as I knew what scene, dance or song was coming up next. There were even others in the audience that I could hear laugh in advance of a scene because they, too knew what was coming up.
I found myself quietly singing along to the songs or making certain gestures to match the screen actions that I knew so well. Wonder if we could generate a"Rocky Horror" type of response campaign so that other fans and viewers could dress up as their favorite character and recite lines back to the screen. I know I can't be the only one doing that along with the film.
Viewing this film now as an adult, I was able to marvel at the fabulous ensemble of character actors that as a kid I thought got in the way of more dance numbers. Especially interesting to me was seeing the late Kathleen Freeman cast as Pheobe Dinsmore the vocal coach. This actress is so recognizable in so many movies but I smile in knowing that in her later private life she became a licensed practitioner in the very faith for which I am now a licensed minister!
Then it happened. One of the earlier musical numbers, "Make 'em Laugh" performed with incredible comedic and hoofing skills by Donald O' Connor, began to unfold. And I began to cry. Big crocodile tears (self: make note to find out why and how that phrase came into being) while Mr. O' Connor kept singing, "Make 'em laugh, make 'em laugh..." and I cried harder. My tears were a mixture of emotions including the sheer joy noting the brilliance of this movie, and that this movie was so meaningful to me as a kid. I wanted to be Kathy Selden. Romanced by Don Lockwood so that I could dance with Gene Kelly and have him serenade me. On some level, I was pretty sure that this was really how life was supposed to be-- singing and dancing with each other as the only true way to a happily-ever-after.
Well, at least I can say that I had the pleasure and privilege to meet both Ms. Reynolds and Mr. Kelly in my lifetime. I worked with Debbie Reynolds one year assisting her when she was actively involved in The Thalians organization and had her rehearsal studio (I got her to sign my "Unsinkable Molly Brown" lobby cards!); and I kept a pair of Mr. Kelly's shoes in my trunk for years till they mildewed. ( Perhaps in some other blog post I will share the story of when I turned into a blithering, babbling fool as I was introduced to Gene Kelly backstage at the Mark Taper Forum.)
While it's true that I may have been the only person crying at the end of this movie, I didn't care. I knew I could exit holding my head held high because I would still have . . .
"Dignity, always dignity."
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