Tag Archives: Donald O’Connor

Film: Singin’ in the Rain

The American Film Institute named Singin' in the Rain the best musical of all time, and the number ten film. The top dances aren't ranked, but Gene Kelly's has to be in the top five. Uploaded by fishing4fun.co.uk.

For some folks, musical comedy is a film genre they just can’t tolerate. That’s too bad, because Hollywood hasn’t made many movies in any shape or form that offer the combination of great songs, amazing dance, and delightful comedy that characterizes Singin’ in the Rain.

The plot of the movie centers around the transition from silent films to talkies. There are the usual high jinks, misunderstandings, and opposites falling in love that comedies are noted for. All performed by an inspired cast, led by Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, and Jean Hagen.

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But singing and dancing are the real stars of the show. Interestingly, most of the songs weren’t written specifically for this movie. “Make ‘Em Laugh,” for example, was dangerously close to another song, “Be a Clown,” used in another film (The Pirate) four years earlier. And the title song goes all the way back to the Hollywood Revue of 1929.

As for dancing, it’s hard to say whether Donald O’Connor’s athletic antics or Gene Kelly’s joyous splashing displays the most talent. But since it’s the iconic moment of the film, we’ll give the nod to Kelly. He’s always been slightly overshadowed by the brilliance of his contemporary, Fred Astaire (Great American Things, November 13, 2009), but Kelly’s talent on display here takes second billing to no one.

Singin’ in the Rain was voted the number one movie musical in American film history by the American Film Institute in 2006. It also came in at number 10 in the AFI’s list of 100 Years…100 Movies. And the song “Singin’ In The Rain” ranks number three in their top songs…

Film: White Christmas

With wonderful songs by Irving Berlin, it was the first movie ever filmed in VistaVision. Wow. Uploaded by timeout.com.

Viewing a special movie on Christmas Eve is a tradition in many families. Some watch It’s a Wonderful Life (Great American Things, December 1, 2009), or A Christmas Story (Great American Things, December 9, 2009). At our house, though, it’s the 1954 classic, White Christmas.

Bing Crosby (Great American Things, December 19, 2009) and Danny Kaye are two Army buddies who form a hugely successful musical act. They then fall in love with a sister act (Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen) and scheme how to save their commanding general’s Vermont inn.

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As you might expect, though, it’s the music that makes the movie. Great, memorable songs by Irving Berlin, including “Sisters,” “It’s Cold Outside,” “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep,” and of course, “White Christmas.”

Some interesting facts about the movie:
* Danny Kaye’s part was originally written for Fred Astaire, then Donald O’Connor, then rewritten for Kaye.
* The film’s recording rights were with Decca, but Rosemary Clooney was contracted to Columbia. As a result there were two “White Christmas” albums. Peggy Lee sang Clooney’s parts on the Decca version. On the Columbia version, Clooney sang “Sisters” with her real-life sister, Betty.
* “White Christmas” did not first appear in this movie. In fact, this was the third movie to include the song.
* It was the top-grossing film of 1954.