Hollywood: Breaking the Sound Barrier

Mark Juddery looks at the historical backdrop to the much-loved 1950s Hollywood musical, Singin’ in the Rain in which Hollywood tells its own story of the arrival of sound to the big screen.

Singin’ in the Rain frequently appears high on lists of the ‘greatest’ films ever made, whether voted by movie buffs, critics, or both (it was voted best on-screen musical by a 2006 American Film Institute poll and came eighth in Empire magazine’s 2008 best film poll). The reason seems quite simple: it is perhaps the finest and most enjoyable example of its genre. Halliwell’s Film Guide suggests that it has ‘the catchiest tunes, the liveliest choreography, the most engaging performances and the most hilarious jokes of any musical’. But its status as the greatest film musical was slow to take root.

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