Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!
TFS proudly presents the third instalment in our November series on films about filmmaking – Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen’s classic musical Singin’ In the Rain (1952) at Market Hall this Wednesday.
After the success of our last screening, Tim Burton’s 1994 biopic Ed Wood (a film about a good man with a love for bad movies and angora sweaters), we return to the Golden Age of Hollywood to visit a critical juncture in film history: the transition between the age of silent film and the “talking pictures” that came to dominate the industry. Like that film, the plot is about the production of a film and the people who make things happen behind the scenes, the actors as well as the producers. It is about clashes of personality and artistic vision, and the desire of studios to cave to audience expectations: in this case, the desire for talking actors brought about by The Jazz Singer (1927), as quoted above. But let’s not take it too seriously: it’s also just lots of fun.
As befits our theme this month, this is a movie lover’s movie: a film about filmmaking, a metafilm of sorts. It is also a piece of nostalgia: a reminder of a simpler age when moviegoing was about entertainment and spectacle, a more innocent era before multiple scene changes per second and flashy CGI explosions turned Hollywood offerings into a slew of bad 3-D Michael Bay blockbusters. (Of course, the Hays Code may have had something to do with it as well…) In order to recapture that feeling, we’re holding our screening at the historical Market Hall building located at 140 Charlotte Street.
The multi-talented Gene Kelly, known for his musical output (and we know everyone loves musicals) and dancing ability, also co-directed this feature. His co-director and sometime frenemy Stanley Donen would go on to make such classics as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) and the Audrey Hepburn vehicle Funny Face (1957). But equally as iconic as Kelly’s opening number is the show-stopping talent of dancer Cyd Charisse, and there is a notable early appearance by Debbie Reynolds (The Unsinkable Molly Brown, 1964). This a film from the days where random song and dance sequences that had little to do with the plot were not only tolerated but encouraged, and people went to see the stars as much as the picture itself. This freewheeling approach to filmmaking is still alive and well in other parts of the world (India comes to mind), but has become something of a lost art form in the American film industry.
This film is presented in collaboration with the Trent Graduate Student Association. In order to bank on our longstanding love of themed events, we also encourage audiences to come in their best Jazz Age attire. (Forget your hipster Gatsby lawn parties!) Spoiler: There may be prizes for the best-dressed attendees. The running time is 103 minutes; as well, please note that we will have a special start time of 8:30PM for this feature. Note: TFS is not responsible for any irrepressible urge to dance down the street carrying an umbrella like Gene Kelly.