Salvage a Sinking Ship: Take a Tip From Singin’ in the Rain

Singin In The Rain

Singin In The Rain (Photo credit: AndyRobertsPhotos)

There are so many things that transfixed me as a kid the first time I saw Singin’ in the Rain: the dancing, the costumes, Cyd Charisse’s green outfit. Watching it last Thursday in an IMAX theatre, courtesy of Turner Classic Movies, NCM Fathom Events and Warner Home Video’s big screen release, I was taken not just by every Don and Lina moment, but also by sheer innovation and the concept of not giving up.

First, I have to confess: I am Lina Lamont’s biggest fan. I think Jean Hagen’s performance is the best in this film, and that’s hefty company. As an actor by degree, I have my heart set on playing this role. (Cast me!)

Cropped screenshot of Jean Hagen from the trai...So, I’m biased: the Don and Lina scenes, aside from Moses, are my favorite. And 60 years after it’s initial release, they’re still funny: the silent scene where Don and Lina perform romance but speak out of dislike, Monumental Pictures’ struggle to shoot with sound / the quest to place Lina’s microphone, the botched screening of the Dueling Cavalier.These scenes are funny in part because Monumental Pictures has some pretty monumental problems.

What follows in true musical fashion is sheer gumption, that “let’s put on a show to save the day” sort of energy. As the audience, we suspend disbelief and play along despite the sometimes lack of logic. It’s part of the fun.

Good thing, too. Because I’m still not sure how the Broadway Melodies story of a young hoofer, a modern dance ballet at that, gels with a 17th century story about a dueling cavalier and his lady-love.

The audience is right with studio head R.F. Simpson when, asked what he thinks of the idea, he sputters, “I can’t quite visualize it. I’ll have to see it on film first.”

Connecting disparate stories and transforming the film into a musical doesn’t seem to make sense, but the players get props for trying. For not being afraid to reinvent a failed film. For finding a new voice to replace Lina’s, while still maximizing her star power and physical presence. For being-open minded about the ways they can fix problems. The characters believe they can salvage the film and turn it into a smash. Because they believe it, they do.

Do you approach issues in your business with the same creativity and conviction?

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