“Lina. She can’t act. She can’t sing. She can’t dance. A triple threat.”
-Cosmo Brown, Singin’ in the Rain
In 1952, the movie musical Singin’ in the Rain posed an interesting question: what would happen if a wildly successful and beautiful leading lady possessed a voice that would send audience members running in the opposite direction of the silver screen?
Set in 1927, Singin’ in the Rain takes place during the rise of sound in film and Warner Bros’. The Jazz Singer. It follows a movie studio making the painful process of milking their two most bankable silent film stars — Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) — in the brave new world of “talkies.” This premise is played for laughs, with Lina’s blithe ignorance stealing the show. Don Lockwood is Gene Kelly so naturally he adapts, able to sing well enough and dance spectacularly, but Lina has a shrill, screeching timbre that reaches dog whistle frequencies. Naturally, she believes that she’s brilliant at all things. Her gorgeous face and fanbase are not moneymakers that the studio wants to lose, so they secretly enlist talented newbie, and Don’s love interest, Kathy Selden, to dub over Lina’s voice lines and songs. Hilarity ensues.
While Singin’ in the Rain isn’t nearly as incisive of Hollywood as a film like All About Eve, its premise has more depth than a hearty chuckle at Lina’s expense. Lina is pretty, and her face makes the fictitious Monumental Pictures a tremendous amount of money, to the point where she is a household name. Her egotistical personality is cultivated by the studio catering to her directly because she is so beautiful. The lack of acting ability can be dealt with, so long as nothing damages her moneymaking face, and her voice wasn’t a problem until she was actually required to speak and sing.
We don’t yet know if Chitose Karasuma’s dancing is anything special, but Girlish Number has already made it clear that she has no natural voice acting talent, and also isn’t particularly good at singing. She’s at least, by Singin’ in the Rain‘s standards, a double threat.