Sixty years after its release, Singin' in the Rain (1951) remains one of the best
loved films ever made. Yet despite dazzling success with the public, it never
received its fair share of critical analysis. Gene Kelly's genius as a performer is
undeniable. Acknowledged less often is his innovatory contribution as director.
Peter Wollen's illuminating study of Singin' in the Rain does justice to this
complex film. In a brilliant shot-by-shot analysis of the famous title number,
he shows how skilfully Kelly weaves the dance and musical elements into the
narrative, successfully combining two distinctive traditions within American
Dance: tap and ballet.
At the time of the film's production, its scriptwriters Betty Comden and Adolph
Green, and indeed Kelly himself, were all under threat from McCarthyism.
Wollen describes how the fallout from blacklisting curtailed the careers of
many of those who worked on the film and argues convincingly that the film
represents the high point in their careers.
In his foreword to this special edition, published to celebrate the 20th
anniversary of the BFI Film Classics series, Geoff Andrew looks at the film's
legacy and celebrates the passion, lucidity and originality of Wollen's analysis.
Summing up its enduring appeal, Andrew writes: 'Singin' in the Rain isn't just a
musical, it's a movie about the movies.'
PETER WOLLEN taught film at UCLA. He is the author of several books, including Signs and Meaning in the Cinema, first published in 1969 and reprinted in a new edition in 2012, and the co-writer (with Mark Peploe) of Michelangelo Antonioni's The Passenger (Professione: Reporter) (1974). GEOFF ANDREW is Head of Film Programme at BFI Southbank, and was previously Film Editor of Time Out London. He is the author of two volumes in the BFI Modern Classics series, The 'Three Colours' Trilogy (1998) and 10 (2005), and of The Films of Nicholas Ray: The Poet of Nightfall (2004).
Foreword Geoff Andrew.- 'Singin' in the Rain'.- Notes.- Credits.- Bibliography.