Return to Film tab
Singin' in the Rain
Singin’ in the Rain (1952, Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 103 min.) is set in Hollywood when the “talkies” emerged to challenge silent films. The film makes reference to The Jazz Singer (1927) as the first film to use synchronized sound in the musical numbers.
(Optional) To prepare for Singin’ in the Rain you may wish to first watch The Jazz Singer—the film “talkie” which plays an important role in Singin’. Summarize the plot of The Jazz Singer. In Neal Gabler’s treatment of this film he notes that in this film things which do not and cannot in real life, happen at the end of this film (see An Empire of Their Own, 140-45). The inevitable “happy endings” became established as part of the magical “reality” of classic Hollywood feature films.
Also, consider a brief reference to how “talkies” affected “stars.”

View Singin’ in the Rain

What were the characters’ attitudes toward movie acting and theater performance (Broadway, live theater, vaudeville)? Why?

What was the impact of “talkies” on Hollywood films? How would the “talkies” impact the earlier differences between films and theater performance?

What are the characteristics and conventions of the genre embodied in Singin’ in the Rain? Is it realistic, musical, comedy, and how do these conventions or forms fit within this film?

Carefully consider the explicit and self-conscious way the “register” changes when moving from “realistic narrative” to “musical narrative” in the case of the number “You were meant for me.” What are some of the cinematic ways of shifting between levels of narrative?

How many of the songs fit naturally within the storyline? Which fit best and, and which least? How did the filmmakers handle the musical numbers that didn’t quite fit within realistic genre?

What else does Singin’ in the Rain tell us about classic Hollywood?

Also, it may be useful to work through some general interpretation of the film. 

Return to Film tab