Singin' in the Rain

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Singin' in the Rain
Singing in the rain poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byGene Kelly
Stanley Donen
Produced byArthur Freed
Written byBetty Comden
Adolph Green
StarringGene Kelly
Donald O'Connor
Debbie Reynolds
Jean Hagen
Millard Mitchell
Music byNacio Herb Brown (music)
Arthur Freed (lyrics)
CinematographyHarold Rosson
Editing byAdrienne Fazan
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • March 27, 1952 (1952-03-27)
Running time103 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$2,593,000[1][2]
Box office$5,630,000[1]
 
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Singin' in the Rain
Singing in the rain poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byGene Kelly
Stanley Donen
Produced byArthur Freed
Written byBetty Comden
Adolph Green
StarringGene Kelly
Donald O'Connor
Debbie Reynolds
Jean Hagen
Millard Mitchell
Music byNacio Herb Brown (music)
Arthur Freed (lyrics)
CinematographyHarold Rosson
Editing byAdrienne Fazan
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • March 27, 1952 (1952-03-27)
Running time103 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$2,593,000[1][2]
Box office$5,630,000[1]

Singin' in the Rain is a 1952 American musical comedy film directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, starring Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds, and choreographed by Kelly. It offers a lighthearted depiction of Hollywood in the late '20s, with the three stars portraying performers caught up in the transition from silent films to "talkies."

Other similar films include Love Me or Leave Me and Thoroughly Modern Millie

The film was only a modest hit when first released, with O'Connor's Best Supporting Actor win at the Golden Globes, Comden and Green's win at the Writers Guild of America Awards, and the best supporting actress Oscar nomination for Jean Hagen being the only major recognitions. However, it was accorded its legendary status by contemporary critics. It is now frequently described as one of the best musicals ever made,[3] topping the AFI's 100 Years of Musicals list, and ranking fifth in its updated list of the greatest American films in 2007.

Plot[edit]

Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) is a popular silent film star with humble roots as a singer, dancer and stuntman. Don barely tolerates his vapid, shallow leading lady, Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen), though their studio, Monumental Pictures, links them romantically to increase their popularity. Lina herself is convinced they are in love, despite Don's protestations otherwise.

At the premiere of his newest film, The Royal Rascal, Don tells the gathered crowd an exaggerated version of his life story, including his motto, which is "Dignity. Always dignity". His words are humorously contradicted by flashbacks showing him taking on a wide range of menial and humiliating roles on stage and in film alongside his best friend Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor).

To escape from his fans after the premiere, Don jumps into a passing car driven by Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds). She drops him off, but not before claiming to be a stage actress and sneering at his "undignified" accomplishments. Later, at a party, the head of Don's studio, R.F. Simpson (Millard Mitchell), shows a short demonstration of a Vitaphone talking picture[4] but his guests are unimpressed. To Don's amusement and Kathy's embarrassment, she pops out of a mock cake right in front of him as part of the entertainment; Kathy, it turns out, is a chorus girl. Furious at Don's teasing, she throws a real cake at him, only to hit Lina right in the face. Don is smitten with her, but she runs off into the night. Don searches for her for weeks after discovering she was fired, believing himself to be responsible, but Lina tells him while filming a love scene that she made sure Kathy lost her job as an act of revenge and jealousy. Later, Don finds Kathy working in another Monumental Pictures production and they apologize to each other. She confesses to having been a fan of Don all along and they begin to fall in love.

After a rival studio has an enormous hit with its first talking picture, 1927's The Jazz Singer, R.F. decides he has no choice but to convert the next Lockwood and Lamont film, The Dueling Cavalier, into a talkie. The production is beset with difficulties in capturing sound, but by far the worst problem is Lina's grating voice. An exasperated diction coach tries to teach her how to speak properly, but to no avail. Don also takes diction lessons (albeit with much better results). The Dueling Cavalier's test screening is a disaster; the actors' speaking is barely audible thanks to the awkward placing of the microphones, Don repeats the line "I love you" to Lina over and over, to the audience's derisive laughter,[5] and in the middle of the film, the sound goes out of synchronization, with hilarious results.

After the premiere, Don, Kathy and Cosmo come up with the idea to turn The Dueling Cavalier into a musical called The Dancing Cavalier, complete with a modern musical number called "Broadway Melody". Don will be able to show off his natural singing and dancing talent, but they are stumped when they must think about what to do with Lina. Cosmo, inspired by a scene in "The Dueling Cavalier" where Lina's voice was out of sync, suggests they dub Lina's voice with Kathy's. They bring the idea to R.F., who goes ahead with it. When Lina finds out, she is infuriated. She becomes even angrier when she discovers that R.F. intends to give Kathy a screen credit and a big publicity promotion. Lina, after consulting lawyers, threatens to sue R.F. unless he cancels Kathy's buildup and orders her to continue working uncredited as Lina's voice. R.F. reluctantly agrees to her demands.

The premiere of The Dancing Cavalier is a tremendous success. When the audience clamors for Lina to sing live, Don, Cosmo, and R.F. improvise and get her to lip sync into the microphone while Kathy, hidden behind the stage curtain, sings into a second one. While Lina is "singing", Don, Cosmo and R.F. gleefully raise the curtain. When Cosmo replaces Kathy at the microphone, the sham becomes obvious. Embarrassed, Lina flees in humiliation. A distressed Kathy tries to run away as well, but not before Don proudly announces to the audience that she's "the real star of the film". The final shot shows Kathy and Don kissing in front of a billboard for their new film, Singin' in the Rain.

Cast[edit]

Songs[edit]

Singin' in the Rain was originally conceived by MGM producer Arthur Freed, the head of the "Freed Unit" responsible for turning out MGM's lavish musicals, as a vehicle for his catalog of songs written with Nacio Herb Brown for previous MGM musical films of the 1929-39 period.[9] Screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green contributed lyrics to one new song.[10]

All songs have lyrics by Freed and music by Brown, unless otherwise indicated.[10] Some of the songs, such as "Broadway Rhythm", "Should I?", and most notably "Singin' in the Rain," were featured in numerous films. The films listed below mark the first time each song was presented on screen.

Missing scenes[edit]

Production[edit]

Gene Kelly dancing while singing the title song "Singin' in the Rain"

In the famous dance routine in which Gene Kelly sings the title song while twirling an umbrella, splashing through puddles and getting soaked to the skin, Kelly was sick with a 103 °F (39 °C) fever.[13] The rain in the scene caused Kelly's wool suit to shrink during filming. A common myth is that Kelly managed to perform the entire song in one take, thanks to cameras placed at predetermined locations. However this was not the case as the filming of the sequence took place over 2–3 days.[14] Another myth is that the rain was mixed with milk in order for the drops to show up on camera, but the shots were simply lit from the front.[15]

Debbie Reynolds was not a dancer at the time she made Singin' in the Rain; her background was as a gymnast.[12] Kelly apparently insulted her for her lack of dance experience, upsetting her. In a subsequent encounter when Fred Astaire was in the studio, he found Reynolds crying under a piano. Hearing what had happened, Astaire volunteered to help her with her dancing. Kelly later admitted that he had not been kind to Reynolds and was surprised that she was still willing to talk to him afterwards. After shooting the "Good Morning" routine, Reynolds' feet were bleeding.[12] Years later, she was quoted as saying that "Singin' in the Rain and childbirth were the two hardest things I ever had to do in my life."[16]

Donald O'Connor had to be hospitalized after filming the "Make 'em Laugh" sequence. He smoked up to four packs of cigarettes a day.[14]

Most of the costumes from this film were eventually acquired by Debbie Reynolds and housed in her massive collection of original film costumes, sets and props. Many of these items were sold at a 2011 auction in Hollywood. While most items were sold to private collectors, Donald O'Connor's green check "Fit As a Fiddle" suit and shoes were purchased by Costume World, Inc. and are now on permanent display at the Costume World Broadway Collection Museum in Pompano Beach, Florida.[citation needed]

Reception[edit]

Floribunda rose 'Singin' in the Rain', McGredy 1994

According to MGM records, during the film's initial theatrical release it made $3,263,000 in the US and Canada and $2,367,000 internationally, earning the studio a profit of $666,000.[1] It was the tenth highest grossing movie of the year in the US and Canada.[17][18]

Awards and honors[edit]

For her role as Lina Lamont, Jean Hagen was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The film was also nominated for a Best Original Music Score.

Donald O'Connor won a Golden Globe for this film.[19] Betty Comden and Adolph Green received the Writers Guild of America for the best written American musical.[20]

Singin' in the Rain has appeared twice on Sight and Sound's list of the ten best films of all time, in 1982 and 2002. Its position in 1982 was at number 4 on the critics list; on the 2002 critics' list it was listed as number 10 and it tied for 19 on the directors' list.[21] The film has a rare 100 percent positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 45 sources.[22] In 2008, Singin' in the Rain was placed on Empire's 500 Greatest Movies of All Time List, ranking at #8, the highest ranked G-rated movie on the list.

In 1989, Singin' in the Rain was among the first 25 films chosen for the newly established National Film Registry for films that are deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation.

American Film Institute recognition

Home video[edit]

The 40th Anniversary Edition VHS version released in 1992 includes a documentary, the original trailer, and Reynolds' solo rendition of "You Are My Lucky Star," which had been cut from the final film.[23]

According to the audio commentary on the 2002 Special Edition DVD, the original negative was destroyed in a fire, but despite this, the film has been digitally restored for its DVD release. A Blu-ray edition was released in July 2012.

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ Rudy Behlmer, Behind the Scenes, Samuel French, 1990 p 267
  3. ^ Haley Jr., Jack: That's Entertainment!, Frank Sinatra segments. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1974
  4. ^ This scene pays homage to the original 1921 DeForest Phonofilm demonstration, featuring DeForest himself explaining the system.
  5. ^ Comden 2002: This is a reference to a scene by John Gilbert in his first talkie.
  6. ^ Betty Comden, Adolph Green (2002). The story Behind Singin' in the Rain: Now It Can be Told, reprint of the Singin' In the Rain screenplay introduction, originally published in 1972, included in the liner notes of the Music from the original motion picture soundtrack (deluxe edition) Singin' in the Rain double CD by Rhino Entertainment and Turner Classic Movies.
  7. ^ Robert Osborne, TCM commentary, "Singing in the Rain."
  8. ^ Earl J. Hess and Pratibha A. Dabholkar, Singin' in the Rain: The Making of an American Masterpiece (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2009), 145.
  9. ^ George Feltenstein (2002). "Producer's Note," included in the liner notes of the "Music from the original motion picture soundtrack (deluxe edition) Singin' in the Rain" double CD by Rhino Entertainment and Turner Classic Movies
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Track list in the liner notes of the "Music from the original motion picture soundtrack (deluxe edition) Singin' in the Rain" double CD by Rhino Entertainment and Turner Classic Movies.
  11. ^ a b CineBooks' Motion Picture Guide review of the film included on the Microsoft Cinemania 1997 CD
  12. ^ a b c New 50th Anniversary Documentary What a Glorious Feeling, hosted by Debbie Reynolds on the film's DVD.
  13. ^ "The Biography Channel". Retrieved 2008-06-03. 
  14. ^ a b "Singin' in the Rain (1952) – Hollywood’s Greatest Musical!". Key Light Enterprises. Retrieved 15 January 2012. 
  15. ^ Bubbeo, Daniel (July 11, 2012). "Gene Kelly's widow Patricia chats about her late husband and 'Singin' in the Rain'". Newsday. Retrieved July 27, 2012. 
  16. ^ Patrick Perry, "ON TOUR WITH DEBBIE REYNOLDS: Feisty and Fit Actress Speaks Out About An All-Too-Common Problem - Overactive Bladder",The Saturday Evening Post, January/February 2003.
  17. ^ "Singin' in the Rain - Box Office Data". The Numbers. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  18. ^ 'Top Box-Office Hits of 1952', Variety, January 7, 1953
  19. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045152/awards
  20. ^ "wga awards". Wga.org. Archived from the original on 2012-12-05. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  21. ^ "Sight & Sound | Top Ten Poll 2002 - Critics’ top ten films of all time". BFI. 2011-08-02. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  22. ^ "Singin' in the Rain Movie Reviews, Pictures, Trailers". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  23. ^ "VHS back cover". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  24. ^ http://old.post-gazette.com/ae/20030709rawson0709p5.asp
  25. ^ "Youtube.com". Youtube.com. 2010-02-27. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]