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Somewhere Cinematic: Hollywood Movies On Hollywood

Posted December 02, 2010 to photo album "Somewhere Cinematic: Hollywood Movies On Hollywood"

Sofia Coppola’s award-winning Somewhere is the latest in a line of films that examines movies and movie stars. Nick Dawson casts an eye over some of the best.

Slide 1: Introduction
Slide 2: A Star is Born (1937)
Slide 3: Sullivan's Travels (1942)
Slide 4: Sunset Blvd (1950)
Slide 5: Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Slide 6: Inside Daisy Clover (1965)
Slide 7: Nickelodeon (1976)
Slide 8: My Favorite Year (1982)
Slide 9: The Player (1992)
Slide 10: Living in Oblivion (1995)
Slide 11: Hollywoodland (2006)
Slide 5: Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Slide 5: Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Made just two years after Sunset Blvd, Singin’ in the Rain puts a rather more nostalgic and joyful spin on the stars of the silent era. Set in 1927, co-directors Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen’s movie presents an affectionate portrait of Hollywood in the transition period between silent pictures and talkies, centering on the love affair that develops between dashing leading man Don Lockwood (Kelly) and Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), a young chorus girl brought in to dub the voice of Lockwood’s co-star Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen). The movie lampoons Hollywood’s technical efforts at recording dialogue by hiding microphones in bushes and the like, yet the irony was that Singin’ in the Rain was still using very similar techniques! In order to hear Reynolds’ dialogue better, a microphone was hidden in her blouse, while Reynolds – whose character’s voice is use to dub over the screechy Lina – was herself dubbed over by Betty Noyes for the songs “Would You” and “You Are My Lucky Star.” Roger Ebert wrote in his review of the movie that “Singin' in the Rain pulses with life; in a movie about making movies, you can sense the joy they had making this one,” however the making of the movie was actually terribly arduous. Cast and crew apparently worked up to 19 hours a day, and Reynolds (who had to be up daily at 4.a.m.) was nursing bleeding feet after performing the “Good Morning” song and dance routine with Kelly and Donald O’Connor. (Reynolds later said that childbirth and making Singin’ in the Rain were the toughest experiences she’d ever had.) However, ultimately, what’s most important about a movie is the audience’s reaction to it, and Singin’ in the Rain is considered the greatest movie musical of them all, and is also one of the most loved movies about the movies. “No funnier lampoon of film-making has yet swum within our ken than this brief but side-splitting revelation of the battle with the machine,” wrote Bosley Crowther in the New York Times when the film came out. “And some of the musical numbers that kid the old musical clichés, such as fashion parades and pin-wheel chorus groups, are as mischievous is they come.”