Singin’ In The Rain is a film that provides both incredible entertainment, as well as a sophisticated self-examination of Hollywood culture both in a modern and historical sense. The film illustrates an uneasy time in the history of cinema, when both fans of the film world and the industry itself were unsure where things were going in the business. This uncertainty is a theme that has not really been shown in any of the other films we have screened so far this semester and it tells a lot about both fan culture and the industry of the time.
Unlike Movie Crazy, Prix de Beaute, and Purple Rose of Cairo where fan characters are illustrated as being caught up in the magic of cinema, Singin’ In The Rain shows a time in cinema history where studio heads, producers and actors alike were terrified of losing fans and unsure about what the future held for them. Much like Juddery describes in his article, “Breaking the Sound Barrier,” silent film stars were losing their careers, screenwriters and directors were lost, and nobody knew what technological advances would stick and what would only be a brief fad. Singin’ In The Rain does an excellent job of evoking nostalgia of the silent film era, and showing a scared, uneasy, and even sympathetic Hollywood.
The fans play an important role in the dynamic of the film. Again, as Juddery describes, and as we have discussed with the start of fan magazines in the late 1910’s and early 1920’s, fans beginning to learn more about the actors and actresses that they saw on the screen represents a major shift in the Hollywood dynamic. The character Lina represents the story of many silent film actors who struggled to maintain their image when their voices were recorded. The idea that fans have a certain idea of what an actor/actress is like in real life, and that that idea affects how they respond to them on screen is one that is worth considering in modern times with the presence of gossip columns, celebrity blogs and sources like TMZ, but Singin’ In The Rain is very significant in that it provides commentary on this practice during the time in cinema history when this was most important. The introduction of sound let the fan in even closer to the industry and its stars, and the shift had a huge effect on how fans appreciated/participated with cinema, and how the industry changed their content/production methods.