We're on a soundstage at Monumental Pictures. A jungle scene is being filmed.
Don strolls through looking like quite a dandy in his plaid knickers, matching jacket, matching cap, patterned sweater vest, and ascot. We'll put it this way: If acting skills were determined by how many items of clothing you could wear at once, Don would be Meryl Streep.
Cosmo has the newspaper. The Jazz Singer was a massive success in its first week.
The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolson as a singer from a devout Jewish family who runs away to become a performer, came out in the fall of 1927 and was the first full-length talkie. Its success pretty much signaled the beginning of the end for silent movies.
So Singin' in the Rain isn't quite doing Law & Order-style "ripped from the headlines" work here, but it is showcasing a very specific, very real moment in time.
Cosmo and Don do a walk-and-talk, passing by more films being shot on successive soundstages: There are cheerleaders leading the crowd on a snowy football field. A Western brawl on top of a "moving" locomotive. Movie magic.
Don describes the new film he's shooting to Cosmo. It's a silent film called The Dueling Cavalier, and it's a French Revolution story. In other words, it's very familiar ground for Monumental Pictures. Yawn.
We also find out through Cosmo that Kathy got canned from the Coconut Grove after accidentally assaulting Lina with a cake. And that Don's been trying to find Kathy ever since. See? Totally smitten.
Don's in a mopey mood. What Kathy said about not being a real actor got to him, and he misses Kathy, period. Cosmo tries to build him up, telling him that the show must go on.
Cosmo also basically tells Don to get over himself and to not take himself and his lofty reputation so seriously. In the end, Cosmo claims, everybody just wants to laugh.
And then Cosmo launches into "Make 'Em Laugh," a frenetic number that has Cosmo hamming it up, rubber facing, and literally flipping off of the walls until he's exhausted. Do not try these acrobatic tricks at home.
"Make 'Em Laugh" straight-up plagiarizes Cole Porters' "Be a Clown," which previously appeared in The Pirate, a 1948 film that also starred Gene Kelly (Don) and a questionable mustache. Ever the gentleman, Porter declined to cause a ruckus.
Cut to Don's and Lina's trailers. Dexter needs them on set. They're all decked out in their Dueling Cavalier costumes. It's satiny fabrics and powdered wigs galore.
On set, Don and Lina talk while the crew gets everything ready to film.
Lina says that Don should be less worried about hunting down Kathy and more interested in her. Oh, and she got Kathy fired. Don's enraged.
Just then Dexter grabs Don and reminds him that, in the scene they're about to shoot, his character is madly in love with Lina's character. Well, this won't be awkward at all. Don looks over at Lina like he wants to strangle her.
While Don and Lina pantomime being madly in love with one another, their conversation has a decidedly more sinister bent.
Lina threatens to make life even worse for Kathy.
Don tells Lina he hates her and would like to break every bone in her body. Lina asks, "You and who else, you big lummox?" Ah, romance.
The scene ends with a long kiss. As soon as Dexter calls "Cut!" Don immediately bolts. Lina goes after him and insists that Don can't kiss her like that and not mean it even a little bit.
Don assures her that, oh heck yes, he can.
Just then, R.F. comes storming in and announces that, since The Jazz Singer was such a smash, they're going to make The Dueling Cavalier into a talkie. Everybody's shocked at first, especially Don and Dexter (the director), but eventually they come around.
That is, until, Lina speaks. You can practically hear the record scratch. This is going be harder than they thought.