Film Flick: Singin' In the Rain

Friday, April 11, 2014



Few scenes in film history could be more iconic or carefree than that of Gene Kelly dancing in the streets as  water pours down in Singin’ In The Rain. Filled with songs like “Make ‘Em Laugh” and “Good Morning,” it is considered by many to be the greatest movie musical of all time. Yet, co-star Debbie Reynolds claimed that making this movie and childbirth were the two hardest things she’d  ever had to endure, and for all the sweat, blood and tears, it received only modest accolades at the time it premiered.


Singin’ in the Rain not only starred Gene Kelly but was co-directed by him. Debbie Reynolds was only nineteen and still living with her parents when the part was given to her, after Judy Garland and Ann Miller were both deemed too old. She would get up at four and take three buses to make it to the set and often worked nineteen hour days; sometimes she would even sleep onset to avoid that arduous commute. She’d been scouted out at a beauty pageant and had a background in gymnastics, not dance. The lack of dance training made Kelly critical. Stories go, that one day Fred Astaire found the young actress sobbing under a piano after a run in with Kelly. To cheer her up, he coached her on her dancing himself. That helped, but the dance number “Good Morning” still took so many takes that Reynolds’ feet were literally bleeding at the end. Fellow co-star, Donald O’Connor, also worried about making a mistake in front of perfectionist Kelly. He came through though- even when Kelly asked he reprise an old stunt from his vaudeville days of walking up a wall and flipping around in midair. O’Connor did it- but being a heavy smoker, the stunt put him in bed for the next three days! Though Gene Kelly required a lot from others; he required no less from himself, and did the "Singin’ in the Rain" number while fighting a fever of one hundred-three degrees!


Singin’ in the Rain is a story of Hollywood spoofing itself a bit. Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) is a star of the silent screen, but when sound comes to town, he and the rest of the studio is flummoxed- especially since his co star Lana Lamont (played by Jean Haegen) has an accent leagues apart from her cultivated image! Can he, his buddy Cosmo (Donald O’Connor), and their new gal-pal Kathy (Debbie Reynolds) save the day? Or are all their careers facing a sudden, downward turn?


Since the film is set in the 1920s, all but two songs are ones reused from earlier movies of that time; the plot was built around the music. Despite the hardships endured to get them there, and despite the fact that this film was largely overshadowed by Kelly's previous film, Best Picture An American in Paris, what resulted was something magical, something fun. It’s a musical that works like no other- it has a plot that hangs together better than many musicals, and a sense of friendship between all the characters that makes you cheer unreservedly for them. In fact, its upbeat message will make you too, want to be Singin’ in the Rain.

15 comments

  1. I have never seen this but based on your review and the interesting trivia have added it to my Netflix-must-view list.

    bisous
    Suzanne

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You really should watch this- you'll love it!

      Delete
  2. Great post! I have never seen this movie yet and I think it's time! Thank you :)

    Hugs and Kisses,
    Pam
    www.classypam.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh my goodness, that first paragraph was a wealth of information! I would never think that it was *that* intense- all those actors were so dedicated! Almost insanely so. And when I was younger (like six), I would watch this movie once a year when it'd air on PBS. I remember looking forward to it every time and dancing along to the "Singing in the Rain" number haha, it's one of my favorite memories!

    xo marlen
    Messages on a Napkin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Marlen, I love the memory that comes with this movie!

      Delete
  4. This is one of my favourite movies of all time. It always cheers me up but I had no idea how hard it had been for the actors. Really like these posts of yours. Thank you so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It always cheers me up too. Definitely an all-time favorite.

      Delete
  5. I love this movie to death! I used to watch it and "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" like back to back when I was little. I met Debbie Reynolds when I was really little. She was introducing a petite clothing line in a mall in our town and she was soooo nice. Very tiny woman. I can't believe she was only 19 in this movie!!!
    xoxo
    Taylor
    http://www.nothingbutapigeon.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I used to watch 7 Brides as a kid all the time too. We did the musical in high school, so know I confess I like the play version better, but for biased reasons!

      How neat that you've seen Debbie Reynolds!

      Delete
  6. Love this! I adore this movie as an example of how expressive dance can be, mostly courtesy of Gene Kelly. I wrote about for PopMatters a couple years ago: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/cinema-qua-non-indispensable-dvds-part-1/

    ReplyDelete
  7. Love this movie, and the background story is so interesting!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Singing in the Rain is one of my all time favorite movies. I knew some of the hardships Debbie Reynolds had to face, but not to this extent! And I was interested to hear about Donald O'Connor as well. Good Morning is my favorite number in the movie, I'll look at it a bit differently knowing a bit more about it!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Off-broadway did performed in Billings in 2004- I wished I could play in the pit!
    But, really, this always just makes me think of Paddington.

    ReplyDelete

Latest Instagrams

© Never Fully Dressed. Design by FCD.