Monday, August 9, 2010

Movie heaven when Fox Theatre screens 'The General' and 'Singin' in the Rain'

Posted By on Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 11:38 AM

Don't hate The Fabulous Fox Theatre's Coca-Cola Film Series for screening Sex and the City 2 Thursday night, Aug. 12. The vintage movie house more than compensates on Tuesday and Wednesday with The General and Singin' in the Rain. Both films routinely crack the Top 10 of "Best Films Ever Made" lists. In 1927's silent, black-and-white The General (7:30 p.m. Aug. 10), director/star Buster Keaton turns a stolen locomotive into a slapstick star in a light-hearted adaptation of a famous Civil War train chase. MGM's Singin' in the Rain (7:30 p.m. Aug. 11) takes place in 1927, ironically enough, and depicts Hollywood's topsy-turvy transition to talkies. Co-directed by star Gene Kelly, Signin' in the Rain may be the funniest of all classic musical-comedies while featuring the catchiest songs and most iconic numbers. ("Fit as a Fiddle" my favorite.)

The films closely coincide with new theatrical productions in the area. Stealing Dixie at Marietta's Theatre in the Square dramatizes the actual events that inspired The General, while Lawrenceville's Aurora Theatre produces a likable stage adaptation of Singin' in the Rain. Youtube clips of Singin' in the Rain have been disabled for embedding, but The General is — at the moment — available in its entirety (and, of course, is no substitute for seeing it on the big screen).

By the way, here's a funny thing about Signin' in the Rain.

Once I interviewed director Alan Rudolph, who said that the trouble with Hollywood movies is that at the moment of truth, they tell a lie. Singin' in the Rain is one of my top five films of all time, but it lives up to the rule. The crux of Singin' in the Rain is that ingenue Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) dubs the singing and speaking parts of shrill movie diva Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) in her first talkie. Some suspense comes at the end when Lina tries to force Kathy to provide her screen voice in perpetuity, but the forces of good prevail. However, according to the film's Wikipedia entry:

Although the film revolves around the idea that Kathy has to dub over for Lina's voice, even in the talking scenes, it was actually Jean Hagen's normal voice. Reynolds herself was dubbed in "Would You?" and "You are My Lucky Star" by an uncredited Betty Noyes. Also, when Kathy is supposedly dubbing Lina's voice in the live performance of "Singing in the Rain" at the end of the film, Jean Hagen is actually dubbing Reynolds' speaking voice.

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