In 1952 Gene Kelly teamed up with Stanley Donen to direct this classic film. Donen would later direct other classics like Charade and Funny Face. Kelly would not only direct this film, he would also be taking the starring role. Along with Kelly this film featured the talents of Donald O’Conner, Debbie Reynolds, and Jean Hagen. Jean Hagen would earn an Oscar nomination for her role. The film would also be nominated for Best Music. Like An American in Paris this film showcases the diversity of Gene Kelly and his co-stars. The actors would be asked to sing, dance, and act throughout the film.
The story follows the careers of Don Lockwood (Kelly) and Cosmo Brown (O’Conner) as they try to make the transition from silent films to “talkies”. The studio they work for produces The Dueling Cavalier which becomes an instant failure due to the poor dialogue and leading lady Lina Lamont’s (Hagen) voice. In addition to the failure Don is forced to deal with Lina’s insistence that their on-screen love is real. This belief turns to jealously when Don falls for a young actress and singer named Kathy Selden (Reynolds). When Kathy, Don, and Cosmo come together they hatch the idea for a musical The Dancing Cavalier as a chance to find success in talking pictures. Kathy would be used to record the speaking and singing parts for Lina. All of this would be used to introduce Kathy to the world. This would have worked wonderfully if Lina hadn’t found out. In the end Kathy is asked to hide behind a curtain and sing for Lina who is going to lip-sync for the crowds. When the curtain opens up the truth is revealed in this fantastic story.
This film is an amazing example of the many talents of Gene Kelly and many of the stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood. The dancing and singing are entertaining and done at the highest level. The film has a major dance number which is expected if you’ve seen An American in Paris. The songs written for the film are classics and many are recognized today due to their continued use.
Another major asset to the film is the set design. The colors and design work wonderfully to accent the dance numbers and also set the mood for the scenes.
The acting is wonderful. Gene Kelly plays his role wonderfully. He’s asked to do so much with this movie and manages to do it all at a high level. Today most stars don’t have the training to pull of roles like this. In addition to Kelly, Reynolds and O’Conner are also put to the test. They pass with flying colors in their diverse roles.
This is a musical, the plot isn’t going to knock you off your feet. The music and the dancing might though. The film is a great escape into this wonderful world and works as well today as it did almost 60 years ago. I would recommend this film for the whole family.