Self Reflexive Aspects of Singing in the Rain
Singin’ in the Rain (MGM, 1952) is an American musical comedy directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. The film comically emulates the transition from the production of silent movies to ‘talkies’ in Hollywood during the 1920s. The narrative follows a successful silent film star named Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and his glamorous blonde on screen partner Lina Lamont as they attempt to adapt The Duelling Cavalier a silent film, into a talking film. However, the shrill sound of Lamont’s voice cast serious doubt of the potential success of the film. Lockwood’s musically talented sidekick Cosmo Brown (Donald O’conner) suggests that the film be turned into a musical, and recommends Lockwood’s love interest Kathy Seldon (Debbie Reynolds) perform
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Genres are a product of the film making world which works to serve audience tastes and demand. Schatz (1981, p.16) suggests that film genres “are the result of the material conditions of commercial film making itself, whereby popular stories are varied and repeated as long as they satisfy audience demand and turn a profit for the studios”. Hollywood cinema relies heavily on generic conventions that have been established over the many years of storytelling. Cinematic themes are continually recycled with various levels of tweaking to suit audience demand (Kolker 2006, p.4). The film maker and the film viewers have a complex contractual relationship with genre as it naturally builds up certain expectations as to what will and will not be included. For example, as the name suggests the musical genre is characterised by the inclusion of musical numbers performed by the characters within the text as the narrative unfolds. Therefore, a film such a Singin’ in the Rain which is classified as a musical, sets up an expectation that the text will include song and dance elements.
The narrative structure of a musical is generally organised around some kind of production or show as the genre stylistically emerged from Broadway productions. Feuer (1980, p.23) suggests that musicals are not only entertainment but are also frequently about the production of entertainment as well. Therefore, the musical genre can almost automatically be classified as self reflexive. The narrative