Singin' in the Rain
|Singin' in the Rain|
Theatrical release poster
|Produced by||Arthur Freed|
|Edited by||Adrienne Fazan|
|Box office||$7.7 million|
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 and Donen. 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."
The film was only a modest hit when first released, with only O'Connor's Best Comedy or Musical Lead Actor win at the Golden Globes, Betty Comden and Adolph Green's win for their screenplay at the Writers Guild of America Awards, and the best supporting actress Oscar nomination for Jean Hagen being the major recognitions. However, it was accorded its legendary status by contemporary critics. It is now frequently regarded as one of the best musicals ever made, and the best film ever made in the "Arthur Freed Unit" at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It topped the AFI's 100 Years of Musicals list, and is ranked as the fifth greatest American motion picture of all time in its updated list of the greatest American films in 2007.
Don Lockwood (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 (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 premier 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 (O'Connor).
To escape from his fans after the premier, Don jumps into a passing car driven by Kathy Selden (Reynolds). She drops him off, but not before claiming to be a stage actress and sneering at his "undignified" accomplishments as a movie star. Later, at a party, the head of Don's studio, R.F. Simpson (Millard Mitchell), shows a short demonstration of a talking picture[a] 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, revealing herself to be 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, The Jazz Singer (1927), R.F. decides he has no choice but to convert the next Lockwood and Lamont film, The Duelling 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 Duelling 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,[b] and in the middle of the film, the sound goes out of synchronization, with hilarious results.
After the premier, Don, Kathy and Cosmo come up with the idea to turn The Duelling 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 Duelling 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 build-up and orders her to continue working uncredited as Lina's voice. R.F. reluctantly agrees to her demands.
The premier 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.
- Gene Kelly as Don Lockwood. Although his performance in the song "Singin' in the Rain" is now considered iconic, Kelly was not the first choice for the role—Howard Keel was originally cast. However, Keel was replaced by Kelly as the screenwriters evolved the character from a "Western actor" to a "Vaudeville song-and-dance man".
- Donald O'Connor as Cosmo Brown. The role was based on, and initially written for, Oscar Levant.
- Debbie Reynolds as Kathy Selden. Early on in production, Judy Garland (shortly before her contract termination from MGM), Kathryn Grayson, Jane Powell, Leslie Caron, and June Allyson were among the names thrown around for the role of the "ingenue." However, director Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly insisted that Debbie Reynolds always was first in their mind for the role. Although the film revolves around the idea that Kathy has to dub over for Lina's voice, in the scene where Kathy is dubbing a line of Lina's dialogue ("Our love will last 'til the stars turn cold"), Jean Hagen's normal voice is used. Reynolds herself was dubbed in "Would You?" and "You are My Lucky Star" by an uncredited Betty Noyes.
- Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont. Judy Holliday was strongly considered for the role of Lina, until she suggested Hagen, who had been her understudy in the Broadway production of Born Yesterday. Fresh off her role in The Asphalt Jungle, Hagen read for the part for producer Arthur Freed and did a dead-on impression of Holliday's Billie Dawn character, which won her the role. Her character was based on the silent picture star Norma Talmadge who bombed during the transition to talkies.
- Millard Mitchell as R.F. Simpson. The initials of the fictional head of Monumental Pictures are a reference to producer Freed. R.F. also uses one of Freed's favorite expressions when he says that he "cannot quite visualize it" and has to see it on film first, referring to the Broadway ballet sequence—a joke, since the audience has just seen it.
- Cyd Charisse as Gene Kelly's dance partner in the "Broadway Melody" ballet
- Douglas Fowley as Roscoe Dexter, the director of Don and Lina's films
- Rita Moreno as Zelda Zanders, the "Zip Girl" and Lina's informant friend. Considered to be based on Clara Bow (The It Girl).
- King Donovan (uncredited) as Rod, head of the publicity department at Monumental Pictures.
- Judy Landon (uncredited) as Olga Mara, a silent screen vamp who attends the premiere of The Royal Rascal. She is considered to be based on Pola Negri and Gloria Swanson.
- Madge Blake (uncredited) as Dora Bailey, a radio show host. Considered to be based on Louella Parsons.
- Kathleen Freeman (uncredited) as Phoebe Dinsmore, Lina's diction coach
- Bobby Watson (uncredited) as diction coach during "Moses Supposes" number
- Jimmy Thompson (uncredited) as the singer of "Beautiful Girl"
- Mae Clarke (uncredited) as the hairdresser who puts the finishing touches on Lina Lamont's hairdo
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. Screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green contributed lyrics to one new song.
All songs have lyrics by Freed and music by Brown, unless otherwise indicated. 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.
- "Fit as a Fiddle (And Ready for Love)" from College Coach (1933) (music by Al Hoffman and Al Goodhart)
- "Temptation" (instrumental only) from Going Hollywood (1933)
- "All I Do Is Dream of You" from Sadie McKee (1934)
- "Singin' in the Rain" from Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929)
- "Make 'Em Laugh" considered an original song, but bearing close relation to Cole Porter's "Be a Clown", used in another Freed musical, The Pirate (1948).
- "Beautiful Girl Montage" comprising "I Got a Feelin' You're Foolin'" from Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935), "The Wedding of the Painted Doll" from The Broadway Melody (1929), and "Should I?" from Lord Byron of Broadway (1930)
- "Beautiful Girl" from Going Hollywood (1933) or from Stage Mother (1933)
- "You Were Meant for Me" from The Broadway Melody (1929)
- "You Are My Lucky Star" from Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935)
- "Moses Supposes" (music by Roger Edens, lyrics by Comden and Green)
- "Good Morning" from Babes In Arms (1939)
- "Would You?" from San Francisco (1936)
- "Broadway Melody Ballet" composed of "The Broadway Melody" from The Broadway Melody (1929) and "Broadway Rhythm" from Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935) (music by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed)
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (December 2014)|
- In an early draft of the script, the musical number "Singin' in the Rain" was to be sung by Reynolds, O'Connor, and Kelly on their way back from the flop preview of The Dueling Cavalier.
- In addition, "You Were Meant For Me" was not included in that draft. Instead, the love song was supposed to be Gene Kelly's version of "All I Do is Dream of You", which would be sung after the party at R. F. Simpson's house, when Kelly chases after Reynolds. The song would have ended up at Kelly's house. The footage of this scene has been lost.
- Reynolds' solo rendition of "You Are My Lucky Star" (to a billboard showing an image of Lockwood) was cut from the film, but has survived and is included on the original soundtrack and DVD version of the film.
- Rita Moreno was originally to have sung "I Got a Feelin' You're Foolin'", but this ended up being part of the "Beautiful Girl" medley.
- Due to being seen as too sexy for 1952 film audiences, seven seconds of footage were cut from the Gotta Dance number featuring Kelly and Charisse and the scene was re-scored with the fairly noticeable jump cut remaining in the middle of the shot. As of 2015, the seven seconds of footage excised from the scene remains lost to time.
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. 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. Another myth is that the rain was mixed with milk in order for the drops to show up on camera; the desired visual effect was produced, albeit with difficulty, through backlighting.
Debbie Reynolds was not a dancer at the time she made Singin' in the Rain; her background was as a gymnast. 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. 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."
Donald O'Connor had to stay in bed for several days after filming the "Make 'em Laugh" sequence. He smoked up to four packs of cigarettes a day.
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.
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. It was the tenth highest grossing movie of the year in the US and Canada.
Awards and honors
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. Review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 100% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 47 reviews, with an average score of 9.2/10. The film is currently No. 14 on Rotten Tomatoes' list of best rated films. Rotten Tomatoes summarizes the critical consensus as, "Clever, incisive, and funny, Singin' in the Rain is a masterpiece of the classical Hollywood musical." 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
- AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies – #10
- AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs – #16
- AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions – #16
- AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains:
- Lina Lamont – Nominated Villain
- AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs:
- AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes:
- "What do they think I am, dumb or something? Why, I make more money than Calvin Coolidge! Put together!" – Nominated
- AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals - #1
- AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – #5
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.
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.
Singin' in the Rain is a musical with a book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, lyrics by Arthur Freed, and music by Nacio Herb Brown.
Adapted from the motion picture, the plot closely adheres to the original. Set in Hollywood in the waning days of the silent screen era, it focuses on romantic lead Don Lockwood, his sidekick Cosmo Brown, aspiring actress Kathy Selden, and Lockwood's leading lady Lina Lamont, whose less-than-dulcet vocal tones make her an unlikely candidate for stardom in talking pictures.
In popular culture
- A similar plot had been used in the 1946 French film Étoile sans lumière (aka "Star without Light"), directed by Marcel Blistène, starring Edith Piaf and Mila Parély and later in the 1959 British film Follow a Star, directed by Robert Asher and starring Norman Wisdom and Jerry Desmonde.
- African-American filmmaker Julie Dash's 1982 short Illusions took a more serious look at the concept of actor looping, depicting a black actress in 1942 Hollywood providing the singing voice for a white actress, at the behest of a female studio executive who herself is a light-skinned black woman passing for white.
- The German slapstick show Nonstop Nonsens used the melody of "Make 'Em Laugh" as the main theme.
- It has long been tradition at Kelly's hometown Pittsburgh Pirates games at PNC Park to play the scene from the film during rain delays.
- "Singin' in the Rain" is sung mockingly by Alex DeLarge, played by Malcolm McDowell, in the rape scene in Stanley Kubrick's film A Clockwork Orange (1971). The Gene Kelly version was played during the end credits.
- Gene Kelly's "Singin' in the Rain" sequence is one of the opening scenes of The Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Kelly approved his Audio-Animatronics likeness prior to its delivery to Florida.
- The "Good Morning" song is used as part of the opening show at Disney World's Magic Kingdom each morning.
- The dance to the title song is parodied in the Broadway musical Spamalot in the dance break to "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," complete with tap dancing in raincoats and twirling umbrellas.
- A 2005 Volkswagen Golf GTI commercial features Kelly's "Singin' in the Rain" sequence, but with Kelly performing hip-hop dance moves and a remixed version of the song playing in the background.
- In the 2003 film Shanghai Knights, Jackie Chan imitates Gene Kelly's dance moves (complete with umbrella) towards the end of a fight scene set in London, England. The original "Singin' in the Rain" music plays over this sequence as a tribute.
- The Mexican comedian Chespirito made a performance of Singin' in the Rain on his show Chapolin
- Dirks, Tim. "Singin' In The Rain (1952)". Filmsite.org. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
- Haley Jr., Jack: That's Entertainment!, Frank Sinatra segments. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1974
- 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.
- Robert Osborne, TCM commentary, "Singing in the Rain."
- 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.
- Reynolds, Debbie; Columbia, David Patrick (1989). Debbie: My Life. Pocket Books. p. 97. ISBN 978-0671687922.
- Kermode, Mark (18 March 2007). "The 50 greatest film soundtracks: 11. Singin' In The Rain". The Observer (London). Retrieved 4 August 2015.
- 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
- 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.
- CineBooks' Motion Picture Guide review of the film included on the Microsoft Cinemania 1997 CD
- New 50th Anniversary Documentary What a Glorious Feeling, hosted by Debbie Reynolds on the film's DVD.
- "The Biography Channel". Retrieved 2008-06-03.
- "Singin' in the Rain (1952) – Hollywood’s Greatest Musical!". Key Light Enterprises. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
- 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.
- The Basics: Was There Really Milk in Singin’ in the Rain? notes: "Gene Kelly himself described what happened in several interviews, including American Film (1979): 'Shooting the title number was just terrible for the photographer Hal Rossen [sic]. He had to backlight all the rain and then he had to put frontlight on the performer. That was as tough a job as I’ve ever seen, because you can’t photograph in rain and see it.'"
- 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.
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
- "Singin' in the Rain - Box Office Data". The Numbers. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
- 'Top Box-Office Hits of 1952', Variety, January 7, 1953
- "wga awards". Wga.org. Archived from the original on 2012-12-05. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
- "Sight & Sound | Top Ten Poll 2002 - Critics’ top ten films of all time". BFI. 2011-08-02. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
- "Top 100 Movies Of All Time". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
- "Singin' in the Rain". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
- "VHS back cover". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2010-03-06.
- Comden, Betty, and Green, Adolph. Singin' in the Rain. New York: Lorrimer Publishing Limited. 1986. ISBN 0 85647 116 X.
- Hess, Earl J., and Pratibha A. Dabholkar. Singin’ in the Rain: The Making of an American Masterpiece (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2009). ISBN 978-0-7006-1656-5.
- Wollen, Peter. Singin' in the Rain. London: BFI Publishing. 1992. ISBN 0-85170-351-8.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Singin' in the Rain (film).|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Singin' in the Rain|
- Singin' in the Rain at the Internet Movie Database
- Singin' In The Rain at the American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures
- Singin' in the Rain at Rotten Tomatoes
- Singin' in the Rain at the TCM Movie Database
- Singin' in the Rain at AllMovie
- Roger Ebert's review
- Very detailed review from filmsite.org
- Singin' in the Rain: The Making of an American Masterpiece (A book with the complete background, production history, and legacy of this classic movie.)
- (French) Movie photos and lobby posters
- Speaking vs. Dancing in the Rain: An essay on the importance of the "completely unrelated" 14-minute ballet sequence
- Literature on Singin' in the Rain