At the University of Texas at Austin, this was the first offering screened in introductory film classes; if the professor, a man whose knowledge of cinema history was surpassed only by his willingness to share it with everybody all the time anyplace without any prompting whatsoever, didn't consider it the best American movie, he certainly thought it the most representative. It gleamed with such radiant excesses--those big songs, prolonged dance numbers, its Technicolor wow, its skeptically romantic portrayal of Hollywood as it clumsily transitioned from silent to sound and forced young lovers out of total strangers and enemies. Never afforded the classy rep of An American in Paris, Singin' in the Rain holds up better; it's funnier, darker, louder in sound and vision. Nothing about it dates; it's the most "modern" film of the early '50s, The Player starring a debonair showman (Kelly), a brilliant clown (O'Connor) and a prom queen in ascension (Reynolds). And never has it looked better: The Magnolia's getting a new print, used for the just-released 50th anniversary DVD; it'll make 'em laugh and then some.
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