Thursday, October 08, 2009

Halfway House: Moses Supposes

halfway house halfway through the day, we stop a movie 'bout halfway through... what do we see?

As you may have noticed, I tend to get hung up on film structures and timing. Not sure why but I live for opening scenes, I'm totally enthralled by filmmakers who can stick landings (i.e. the ending -- so difficult) and sometimes I just get hung up on random timed ideas like 20:07, first and last or Halfway House.

Using Singin' in the Rain for a screenshot series is kind of like cheating because every single thing about it is delightful.

"AAAAAAAAA" Donald O'Connor and Gene Kelly sing, 51
minutes into the most purely pleasureable 102 of film, ever.

I love the "Moses Supposes" number for the electricity of the dancing but I always thought it was so weird that the boys decide to bury their vocal coach in random props to end the number.

Now I propose that this pile-up is merely a neat coded illustration of the movie's generosity. Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly literally can't stop themselves from entertaining you. In most movie musicals "Moses Supposes" would be an unquestionable highlight. Here it's just a break inbetween (and simultaneously about) the movie's best recurring gag: Lina Lamont's inability to speak. Consider and marvel that "and I caaaann't stand 'em" comes immediately before this dance number and Lina and Don's hilariously disastrous 'Recording in Session' immediately follows it. This movie is all about piling it on. No breaks. Unless they're wildly entertaining dance breaks.

It's not an "AAAAAA". It's an "A+"


Chase Kahn said...

Ah, my favorite musical of all-time. Jean Hagen is so brilliant in this and the film reaches something close to art during "Would You?".

A lot of people don't know that Debbie Reynolds was actually dubbed by Betty Noyes during the musical numbers. So you have a film where Jean Hagen's voice is being dubbed by Debbie Reynolds and Debbie Reynolds is dubbed by Betty Noyes...Ah!

Univarn said...

One of the great musicals. It took me forever to get into musicals, avoiding them under some false pretense that "men" don't watch them. Meh, screw that stereotype, Singing in the Rain is just pure fun, as are most musicals. The creativity gods surely outdid themselves with this one.

Alex said...

Chase: Debbie Reynolds was only dubbed for the "Would You" song, though the irony is still definitely there. There's a version of "Would You" sung by Reynolds on the film's soundtrack, and I guess she just sounds too young for a more mature song.

Anyway, thanks for the Singin' in the Rain tribute! It's my favorite movie.

Pablete said...

This number is swell. It is more sensational "than Calvin Collidge! Put together!"

I saw "Singin'in the Rain" on the silver screen last weekend. It was a new experience, but the little boy inside still felt the same.

Hayden said...

On another note, I screened Vanya on 42nd Street in my Theater into Film class and had a full-blown Julianne Mooregasm. A Single Man is at the very top of my most anticipated list.


hayden... ugh that movie is brill. she's so fantastic in it, too.

Unknown said...

Greatest. Musical. Ever.
And wasn't Gene Kelly the most masculine screen dancer ever put on screen...? Astaire had class and style in his routines, whereas Kelly was like a bulky action star when dancing, throwing himself into scenes like he was engaging in some fierce battle with the space around him.

Hayden said...

Vanya is great because it adds to my collection of favorite moments when Julianne Moore's character suddenly bursts into tears, briefly composes herself, and contorts her face into a smile before anyone can see what she's doing. See also, The Hours.

Flosh said...

I just had a really long, lousy day at work, and that was absolutely what I needed to see to end the day on an up note.

So thanks!

Chris Na Taraja said...

OMG, I just found out today about Debbie Reynolds being dubbed, and here it is on the Film Experience! Nat, you are up to the minute in the know.

You can hear Debbie singing on You Tube, and she definitely needed the dubbing.

Apparently Gene Kelly also dubbed some of her taps.

Well, he was paid $2,500 a week, and Debbie was only paid $300 (but remember in 1952 you could rent a place in LA for $35 a month.)


so, good wage. yes.

Jamie said...

Love this movie. Best thing ever.

Alison Flynn said...

Best movie musical EVER MADE.

And to answer Asokan's question: Yes, Gene Kelly was without a doubt the most masculine screen dancer ever put on screen. He was beautiful.