40 must-watch movies to consider yourself a film buff

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Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

In terms of being the de facto summation of classic Hollywood filmmaking, like Casablanca is for the 1940s, Singin’ in the Rain is it for the ‘50s. Singin’ in the Rain tells the story of matinee idol Don Lockwood (song-and-dance man, Gene Kelly) who struggles to transition from the world of silent features to “talkies” (films with recorded dialogue). This delightful musical dedicated to Hollywood history is filled with countless toe-tapping numbers from its title song, wherein Kelly danced in thousands of gallons of studio rain with a fever over 100 degrees, to the jubilant “Good Morning.” 

Just don’t forget Donald O’Connor’s fantastic performance of “Make ‘Em Laugh.” The song, which was parodied by Joseph Gordon-Levitt on Saturday Night Live a few years ago, is a testament to O’Connor’s nimbleness, strength, and comic timing. It’s an ode to slapstick in the purest, best form.

Debbie Reynolds is a bright, bubbly ball of sunshine as ingenue Kathy Selden, and it’s amazing to realize she had no actual dance training before the film. And Jean Hagen steals the entire movie as squeaky-voiced leading lady, Lina Lamont. Hagen didn’t win an Academy Award for her performance here, and it’s such a shame because she is the funniest character you’ll ever see.

Where to Watch It: FilmStruck has it to stream now, while Google, Playstation, YouTube, Apple, and Vudu have it to rent.