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Singin' in the Rain (BFI Film Classics) Mass Market Paperback – January 22, 2008

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Editorial Reviews Review

Peter Wollen's remarkable treatment of Singin' in the Rain approaches the film from many different angles. Wollen sees the movie as an important contribution to the history of modern dance, a representative example of the 1950s musical, a significant comment on American McCarthyist policies, and a work that is at once a collaborative effort and the product of Gene Kelly's creative genius. As Wollen develops these points, he also provides a shot-by-shot analysis of Kelly's Singin' in the Rain number, perhaps the most famous dance sequence in any movie musical. Wollen concludes his revelatory book by talking about Singin' in the Rain as part of American mythmaking. He also provides an excellent annotated bibliography that will lead you to further reading on the filmmakers, the genre of the musical, and even the rudiments of tap dancing!

About the Author

Peter Wollen teaches film at the University of California, Los Angeles. His most recent feature film is Friendship's Death and for television Images of Atlantis. His latest critical collection is Raiding the Ice-box: Reflections on Twentieth Century Culture.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 72 pages
  • Publisher: British Film Institute (January 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0851703518
  • ISBN-13: 978-0851703510
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.2 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,066,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael Samerdyke on November 29, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a terrific book on what is probably the best American musical film. Wollen captured me when he compared Kelly's solo dance in "Rain" to a dance in "Cover Girl," something I had long thought, but had never seen anyone mention in print.
Wollen does a fine job showing how the movie fits into Gene Kelly's career and the development of the movie musical. He also has some eye-opening stuff on how "Singin' in the Rain" nearly ran afoul of the Hollywood blacklist.
Even if you've seen the movie many times, you'll probably learn something about it in Wollen's book that you didn't know before. I did.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dash Manchette VINE VOICE on November 20, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Not being a fan of dance, I never had a real interest in seeing Singin' In the Rain. But a couple weeks ago, it was playing on the big screen and a friend wanted to go see it. We went, and I am very glad I did. The movie was not merely better than I would have thought, it was way, way better. I walked out of the theater totally blown away by what I had seen.

Being a (semi-) fan of these BFI books (why do I keep reading these things?), I picked it up and gave it a go. Unfortunately, it just is not that great. The initial sections work, discussing Gene Kelly's career in dance and providing an excellent discussion of how he wanted to incorporate dance seamlessly into the context of a storyline. Typically until this point (and this was my conception of dance movies), the dancing existed as a break from the drama. In Singin' In the Rain, the dance is incorporated into the drama itself, so that it flows naturally and freely as the action of a character.

The first section also does an excellent job of breaking down Kelly's solo dance in the rain, providing a detailed review of exactly what went into it.

The book then goes disastrously, pathetically, but all-too-familiarly wrong. In discussing Kelly's career, and Hollywood in general, during the years when the United States finally took hard Communism in the movie business seriously, we readers are treated to the typical garbage of how horrible it all was for the performers, how unfair it all was, how mean and nasty those anti-Communists were. Not a word that communism was a violent, totalitarian ideology.
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