BU Film School

Thursday, September 29, 2005

FT 540 Reading: Singin' in the Rain

Screenplay info
Written by: Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Film info: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0045152

Synopsis
Premiere of new Lockwood/Lamont picture. Dora Bailey at mike -- exposition. Crowd screams as people arrive in limos. Cosmo out -- crowd puzzled. Don, Lina arrive. Don gives fabricated bio, intercut with shots from what really happened (poolroom, amateur night, vaudeville, stuntman). "Dignity -- always Dignity." Don meets Lina on set of cowboy pic. Tries to be nice, she snubs. Producer R.F. Simpson wants to put Don and Lina in picture. Lina changes attitude, Don snubs.

Screening. Silent. Don and Lina kiss, Don fights attackers. Afterwards, Don gives speech of thanks. Lina tries to speak a couple of times but he forestalls her. Backstage, she complains -- shrill, flat, coarse voice. Cosmo: "Yes, Lina, you looked pretty good for a girl." Rod -- studio "has got to keep their starts from looking ridiculous at any cost." Lina -- fiancée. Don -- "There is nothing between us!" Lina doesn't believe him. They split up for Simpson's party.

Don, Cosmo in car. Flat tire. Don recognized, jacket pulled apart. Don runs, jumps into Kathy Seldon's car. Thinks he's gangster, officer corrects her. She says will drop him off. Don ingratiating. "People think we lead lives of glamour and romance, but we're really lonely. Terribly lonely." She's annoyed, pretends she doesn't really know him. "...they just make a lot of dumb show." She says she's stage actress. They snipe. She says once you've seen one, you've seen 'em all. He gets out. Coat caught, torn in car door.

Kathy drives to Simpson's -- one of girls from Coconut Grove. Directed to the back (service entrance).

Party at Simpson's. Don to Cosmo -- good actor?

Simpson shows talking picture. Warner Brothers making "Jazz Singer" -- they'll lose shirts.

Cake wheeled in -- Kathy pops out. Don chaffs her. She gets mad, throws cake at Don. He ducks, cake hits Lina. Kathy dashes out. Don runs after her. Lina, wisfully: "Donnie?" Kathy drives off, Don too late.

At studio. Lots of pics being shot. Don in French Revolution story. Cosmo: "Why don't you release the old one under a new title? If you've seen one, you've seen them all." Don feels guilty about Kathy losing her job. Cosmo -- show must go on. "Make 'Em Laugh." Lots of cosmic bits for Cosmo. Back flipping off walls.

"Dueling Cavalier" set. Don, Lina snipe. Lina told Coconut Grove to fire Kathy. Sniping continues during shooting of romantic scene. "Meet the greatest actor in the world. I'd rather kiss a tarantula." Simpson -- everyone go home. "Jazz Singer" a success. Don worried. Lina: "Well, of course we talk. Don't iverybody?"

Newspaper headlines. Montage of musical numbers.

Production number. Kathy one of girls -- hired for bit part. Simpson -- just don't let Lina know. Don: "Unhappy? I think it's wonderful!"

Kathy, Don walk and talk. She slips up, reveals she's fan of Don's. She apologizes for remarks, he says he deserved them, was upset. He says he's a ham, can't say things without the proper setting. Empty stage. He switches on light, mists, leads her to ladder. "You Were Meant For Me."

Lina and diction teacher -- awful.

Don and diction coach, things going well. Cosmo comes. Teacher does tongue twisters. "Moses" -- Don, Cosmo do twister, tap-dance.

Attempts to record "Dueling Cavalier". Lots of problems with Lina -- can't remember to speak into mike, mike picks up heartbeat, etc.

Premiere, is a disaster. Sound issues, Lina's speech, Don's "I love you -- I love you ..." Sound goes out of sync, villain and Lina speak with each other's voices. Movie will ruin studio, but booked to open in six weeks all over country.

Don, Kathy, Cosmo at Don's. Don -- I'm no actor. Kathy -- why not a musical? It's 1:30 a.m. "Good Mornin'". Problem -- Lina. Can't act, sing or dance. Kathy imitates villain, Cosmo Lina. Cosmo -- use Kathy's voice. Kathy agrees for the one picture, to save Lockwood and Lamont. Don reluctant.

Don, Kathy. Kiss in doorway. She goes in. "Singin' in the Rain."

Simpson agrees -- keep secret from Lina. title change -- "The Dancing Cavalier."

Recording stage. Kathy sings, "Would You?" Lina has trouble with synchronization. See recording process.

Don demonstrates "Broadway Melody" -- hoofer who comes to big city. Cynical view.

Looping room. Lina discovers Kathy and Don kissing. Infuriated about kiss, Kathy's screen credit, line saying Lina doesn't do own singing and talking.

Lina tells Simpson she'd arranged exclusive interviews to say she's a musical talent. Contract says she controls her publicity, could sue if he tells the papers about Kathy. Also make Kathy do her singing and talking, and nothing else.

Premiere is a hit.

Backstage. Lina reveals Kathy will keep singing for her. Don confronts Simpson, who's confused. Curtain calls. Audience yells for Lina to make speech. "Well, tonight I'm gonna do my own talkin'." On second thought, they let her. Audience reacts to her voice (didn't sound that way in picture). Calls for her to sing.

Don gets idea, huddles with Simpson and Cosmo. Kathy will stand behind curtain and sing. Don orders her to do it. Kathy hurt, but will do it -- will never see Don again.

"Singin' in the Rain." Lina mouths, Kathy sings. Don, Cosmo, Simpson raise curtain. Crowd laughs, Lina oblivious. Cosmo elbows Kathy aside, sings in baritone. Lina realizes, horrified, dashes off. Kathy starts to rush off down aisle. Don: "That's the girl whose voice you heard and loved tonight." "You Are My Lucky Star". Sing, embrace.

Billboard -- "Singin' in the Rain" with Lockwood and Seldon.

My notes
-- great musical numbers
-- self-reflexive show
-- no pretensions to movie business being art (though this film is)
-- great comments about characters in stage directions

FT 540 notes (from 06/19/03)
-- About image. When sound arrives, reality.
-- Happy musical, but all characters are liars, syncophants. Actress' voice is dubbed, Kathy says she is a theater actress but really is a dance girl.
-- For "Singin' in the Rain," camera fluid. Crane shots, dolly shots. Camera starting to move. Still lot of full-body shots.
-- Understanding that each section has its own movement. Tight shot, then cut. Certain emotional pace, as opposed to letting actors give emotion.
-- Environment more than backdrop.

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