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Singing In The Rain



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‘Singing In The Rain’

The next day some more interviews are scheduled in the hotel lobby with its purple chandeliers. The first is with Sheila Johnston who is doing a piece for the (English) Telegraph…but it is not to be about YES. I have to come up with a film, ‘any film’, to talk about for a series in which directors discuss other people’s work. I panic – my mind veering wildly between Vertov, Eisenstein, Michael Snow, Sukurov, The Marx Brothers and the Kurdish/Iranian film ‘Turtles can Fly’; but then settle, suddenly, on ‘Singing in the Rain’. Why? Apart from the fact that it was one of the first films I ever saw, and that I wrote in to ‘Children’s Favourites’ asking them to play the theme song on the radio, I find myself talking about the American musical as a subversive genre invented by immigrants as a way of dealing in coded ways with the mad incomprehensible alienation of their new home. And how singing and dancing is easier than talking in a language which is not your mother tongue. But then I can’t remember Stanley Donen’s background. And Gene Kelly – he was a leftist sympathiser, wasn’t he? I determine to look up all the references later, but continue to elaborate on the idea of the inherent anarchism of musicals.

Later, I double check. Amazingly, “Singing In The Rain” was attacked as “pro-communist” when it came out in the USA , and Gene Kelly had to leave the country for a time. Kelly, his wife, Betsy Blair, and the film’s writers, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, had worked with Woody Guthrie and others and were indeed “progressives” – so my intuitive take on the film is right.

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‘Singing in the Rain’

Text © Sally Potter. All pictures © Adventure Pictures unless otherwise indicated