The TCM’s 60th anniversary celebration of Singin' in The Rain was celebrated with showings all around the country.
I woke up this morning at 12 and realized that the 12th was the anniversary. I quickly called the AMC in Ontario to learn that they had sold out for the 7 o’clock showing, but the 2 o’clock had some seats left. I was in.
The theater was 30 minutes away, but I had to shower and gather my thoughts on Tom Cruise. I left at 1:30, but of course I hit traffic. At 2:05 I arrived at the theater, parking at the bitter end of the lot. In line, I waited behind two people who couldn’t decide whether they wanted to see MIB3 or wait till it came out on DVD and see Ted instead. Eventually, I purchased my 12.50 ticket (mantinees have gone up) and rushed into the theater.
Blue hairs were everywhere, I was the youngest person in the theater by about 20 to 30 years or as I like to call it “Ladies Night.”
Robert Osborne was frozen on screen to which the person next to me voiced an utterly genuine complaint, “They didn’t even freeze him in a nice position they could’ve at least done that.” I averted my eyes from Osborne who bore a startling resemblance to Douglas K. Neidermeyer’s horse when Flounder pulls a gun on it in Animal House.
I checked my watch it was 2:15 and the film hadn’t started, I was lucky, but the others weren’t they had made it on time.
Interestingly enough, the theater was having a problem syncing the sound, which I thought was a meta joke on the funniest sequence in the film, no one else in the theater got it.
The employees solved the problem and the film rolled to applause and cheers. The unfrozen Osborne gave a 15 minute version of his routine introduction with the addition of a Debbie Reynolds interview (He failed to ask her a question about the Halloween Town Trilogy resulting in a major sigh from me).
The seniors in the crowd clapped after every musical number as if their clapping could penetrate not only the screen, but also another dimensions so that the dead could hear them. I clapped too, I couldn’t help it.
Singin’ is one of those movies where you always think about the next great part coming up and then realizing how many great bits, jokes, and songs are jam packed into the movie. It’s similar to visiting your hometown for the weekend and knowing you get to go to your favorite restaurant, see your best friends, and your family. You don’t believe all those things will fit into one weekend, but somehow it happens.
The film still works on every level. The bursts of laughter still ring at the first high pitched lines of Lina Lamont and the seeming spontaneity of Donald O'Connor's Make 'Em Laugh. And the added bonus of chills when it Gene Kelly stands at the rainy door step because you know you are about to re-experience one of the most famous moments in American Cinema. But the film even makes jokes about musicals like when Kelly's wet routine is grounded when a cop thinks he's crazy for dancing in the street.
The dances alone are deafening in their complexity, but made to look so simple, a favorite of mine is Moses Supposes, especially when Kelly and O’Connor dance on top of the same small desk. However, my favorite moment is the insider’s knowledge that even though Kathy Selden dubs Lina Lamont, another actress Betty Noyes dubs Debbie Reynolds for the song “Would You?” It’s double dubbing.
The experience of being in the theater with another generation reminds me of when Woody Allen goes to the theater with his Aunt and her boyfriend in Radio Days.
I found myself thinking about what it was like to go to the movies for a nickel or less and spending the entire day consuming as many movies as possible. What a life that must have been. I wish I had the gall to movie hop because I love going to the movies, but rarely can afford it. I know TVs have gotten bigger, I know every possible movie ever made is at our finger tips and online, but there’s something about the theater, there’s something about sitting in that dark room with strangers and all laughing and clapping at the same parts. I have Singin’ In The Rain on DVD, but what I didn’t have was the experience of watching the movie in a theater with people who saw it in the theater when it first came out. And even though an 85 year old woman kept kicking the back of my seat, I didn't yell or scream or curse her out because my mouth was hanging open from the magic of the movies.
And as I left the theater that day, despite the fact that it was 90 degrees outside in California, not surprisingly… it was raining.
The Hollywood Defender