Singin' in the Rain


1h 43m 1952
Singin' in the Rain

Brief Synopsis

A silent-screen swashbuckler finds love while trying to adjust to the coming of sound.

Photos & Videos

Singin' In the Rain - Hair & Wardrobe Stills
Singin' in the Rain - Publicity Stills - Gene Kelly & Debbie Reynolds
Singin' in the Rain - Behind-the-Scenes Photos

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Musical
Period
Romantic Comedy
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Apr 11, 1952
Premiere Information
New York opening: 27 Mar 1952; Los Angeles opening: 9 Apr 1952
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Suggested by the song "Singin' in the Rain," music by Nacio Herb Brown, lyrics by Arthur Freed.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,228ft (12 reels)

Synopsis

In 1927, fans gather at Hollywood's Chinese Theatre for the premiere of Monumental Picture's latest romantic epic, The Royal Rascal , starring the popular silent screen couple Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont. Don tells radio commentator Dora Bailey that his motto has always been "dignity" and relates the idyllic story of his childhood and rise to fame, all of which is complete fabrication. The audience applauds enthusiastically at the end of the swashbuckling film and asks for speeches from its stars, whom they think are a couple off-screen as well as on, but Don, who loathes his screechy-voiced co-star, insists that Lina merely smile. Assisted by studio boss R. F. Simpson, Don slips away from the cloying Lina and drives with his best friend, studio pianist Cosmo Brown, to the premiere party. On Hollywood Blvd., Cosmo's car breaks down, and Don is surrounded by fans. To escape the screaming mob, who have torn his tuxedo, Don jumps onto a passing car driven by Kathy Selden. She is frightened at first, but when a policeman tells Kathy who Don is, she offers him a ride to his house in Beverly Hills. Although Kathy says that she is a stage actress, who has seen only one of Don's films, she is actually a chorus girl at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub.

After dropping Don off to change his clothes, Kathy drives to the party at R. F.'s house, where she will be performing. Don arrives at the party in time to see a short talking picture. Most of the guests are unimpressed by the new phenomenon, even when R. F. says that the Warner brothers are about to release a feature-length talking picture. When the entertainment starts, Don is surprised, but happy to see a scantily clad Kathy jump out of a cake, and tries to talk with her, but she thinks that he only wants to ridicule her. Just as a jealous Lina takes Don's arm, Kathy throws a cake at him, but misses, and hits Lina instead. Kathy quickly runs away, and Don cannot find her.

Some weeks later, Warner Bros.' The Jazz Singer is a box office smash and audiences are clamoring for more talking pictures. As Don and Lina start their next film, The Dueling Cavalier , Cosmo makes a crack about all of their films being alike, and Don is stung, thinking that Kathy was right about words being necessary for real acting. Lina continues to complain about Kathy, whom she had fired, which makes Don dislike Lina even more, as he has not seen Kathy since the party. During a break in filming, R. F. announces that they are shutting down production and will resume in a few weeks as a talking picture. Cosmo happily anticipates unemployment, but R. F. makes him head of the new studio music department. Some time later, when a musical number is being filmed for another picture, Cosmo sees Kathy in the chorus. When Don shows up just as R. F. is about to offer Kathy another part, she confesses what happened at the party, but Don tells R. F. that it was not her fault and R. F. agrees. Later, when Kathy and Don are talking, he tells her that his "romance" with Lina is completely fabricated by fan magazines and Kathy confesses that she has seen all of his pictures. Don has difficulty revealing his feelings to Kathy until he takes her to a romantic setting on a sound stage.

Soon preparations for The Dueling Cavalier begin with diction lessions for Lina and Don. Although Don is fine, Lina's voice shows little improvement. When filming resumes, director Roscoe Dexter becomes increasingly frustrated by Lina's voice and inability to speak into the microphone, but the picture is completed. When it is previewed on a rainy night in Hollywood, the audience laughs at Lina's voice, howls at synchronization problems, and leaves the theater saying it was the worst film ever made. Later that night, Cosmo and Kathy try to console Don, who thinks his career is over until Cosmo comes up with the idea to turn the film into a musical comedy and have Kathy dub Lina's voice. Don worries that this plan is not good for Kathy, but she convinces him by saying it will be for just one picture. The next day, R. F. loves the idea and they all conspire to keep Lina from finding out.

To enhance the picture, they add a modern section in which Don can sing and dance the story of a Broadway hoofer. After the picture is finished, Don tells Kathy that he wants to tell the world how much he loves her, but as they kiss, Lina interrupts them and flies into a rage. She then starts her own publicity campaign proclaiming herself Monumental's new singing star. R. F. is angry, but Lina shows him her contract and he reluctantly agrees that she controls her own publicity. Lina then threatens to ruin the studio unless Kathy continues to dub her singing and speaking voice, but do nothing else.

At the picture's premiere, the audience loves "Lina's" voice. Feeling triumphant, Lina boasts that Kathy will keep singing for her, and Don is furious. When the audience clamors for a song from Lina, Don hatches the idea of having Kathy stand behind a curtain and sing into a microphone as Lina pantomines the words. While Lina silently mouths "Singin' in the Rain," Don, R. F. and Cosmo pull the curtain and the audience laughs hysterically when they realize that Kathy is actually singing. Lina does not know what is happening until Cosmo takes the microphone from Kathy and starts singing himself. Lina runs off screaming, and an embarrassed Kathy starts to leave the theater, until Don tells the audience that she is the real star of the film and has her join him in a song. Finally, a billboard proclaims that Don and Kathy are co-stars of the new Monumental film Singin' in the Rain .

Cast

Gene Kelly

Don Lockwood

Donald O'connor

Cosmo Brown

Debbie Reynolds

Kathy Selden

Jean Hagen

Lina Lamont

Millard Mitchell

R. F. Simpson

Cyd Charisse

Dancer

Douglas Fowley

Roscoe Dexter

Rita Moreno

Zelda Zanders

Madge Blake

Dora Bailey

King Donovan

Rod

Kathleen Freeman

Phoebe Dinsmore

Robert Watson

Diction coach

Julius Tannen

Actor in "talking picture" clip

Tommy Farrell

Sid Phillips

Jimmie Thompson

Male lead in "Beautiful Girl" number

Dan Foster

Assistant director

Margaret Bert

Wardrobe woman

Mae Clarke

Hairdresser

Janet Lavis

Sheila Meyers

Betty Scott

Joyce Horne

Joey Robinson

Shirley Lopez

Ann Newland

Betty Erbes

Joanne Rio

Marcella Becker

Marie Ardell

Audrey Saunders

Gloria Dewerd

Shirley Glickman

Jeanne Coyne

Norma Zimmer

Betty Allen

Dorothy Mccarty

Sue Allen

Patricia Denise

Betty Hannon

Pat Jackson

Bill Chatham

Ernest Flatt

Don Hulbert

Robert Dayo

Judy Landon

Olga Mara

John Dodsworth

Baron

Stuart Holmes

J. C. Spendrill III

Jon Gardner

Kid

David Kasday

Kid

Inez Gorman

Mrs. Simpson

Allen Sutherland

Don as a boy

Dennis Ross

Cosmo as a boy

Charles Regan

Saloon keeper

Angie O. Poulis

Fruit peddler

Bill Lewin

Villain

Carl Milletaire

Villain

Richard Emery

Phil/Cowboy Hero

Ben Stroback

Leading man

Allen Pinson

Fencer

Jean Heremans

Fencer

Russ Saunders

Fencer

Chic Collins

Fencer

Dave Sharpe

Fencer

Diane Garrett

Usherette

Marilyn Moore

Usherette

Jan Kayne

Usherette

Dorothy Patrick

Usherette

Robert B. Williams

Policeman

Leon Lontoc

Filipino butler

Gwen Carter

Girl talking with Cosmo at party

Ann Mccrea

Girl at party

Patrick Conway

Projectionist

Joseph Mell

Projectionist

Bert Davidson

Sound engineer

Harry Tenbrook

Workman

Dawn Addams

Lady-in-waiting

Fred Datig Jr.

Ticket taker

William Schallert

Messenger on screen

Adam York

Publicity man

Bill Leicester

Man in black

Jack George

Orchestra leader

Brick Sullivan

Cop in "Rain" number

Snub Pollard

Old man in "Rain" number

Wilson Wood

Vallee impersonator

Peggy Murray

Fainting girl

Anthony Rocke

Man in forecourt

Robert Foulk

Matt the cop

Tim Hawkins

Boy

Jimmie Bates

Boy

Johnny Mcgovern

Boy

David Bair

Boy

Gloria Moore

Audrey Washburn

Virginia Lee

Jeanne Gail

Ivor James

Don Fields

Joy Lansing

Bette Arlen

Dee Turnell

Paul Salata

Frank Hyers

Tommy Walker

Michael Dugan

Charles Evans

Harry Cody

Paul Maxey

Helen Eby-rock

"tiny" Jim Kelly

Peggy Leon

Beatrice Gray

Ruth Packard

Marietta Elliot

Lyle Clark

Glen Gallagher

Dean Denson

Gail Bonney

Marion Gray

Forbes Murray

Cameron Grant

Kay Deslys

Phil Dunham

John Logan

William R. Hamel

John Albright

Morgan Jones

Crew

Dorothy Aldrin

Script Supervisor

Jeff Alexander

Vocal Arrangements

Rene Barsam

Stand-in

Mary Bashe

Body makeup

Nacio Herb Brown

Composer

Eric Carpenter

Stills

Betty Comden

Story and Screenplay

Betty Comden

Composer

Alexander Courage

Orchestration

Jeanne Coyne

Assistant Dance Director

Tommy Crawford

Props

Maurice Depackh

Orchestration

Stanley Donen

Music numbers staged and Director

Randall Duell

Art Director

Roger Edens

Composer

Adrienne Fazan

Film Editor

Norwood Fenton

Sound

Ernest Flatt

Tap instructor

Hank Forrester

Grip

Robert Franklyn

Orchestration

Arthur Freed

Composer

Arthur Freed

Producer

Phil Garris

Stand-in

Cedric Gibbons

Art Director

James Gooch

Technicolor Color Consultant

Al Goodhart

Composer

Adolph Green

Composer

Adolph Green

Story and Screenplay

Johnny Green

Music Director

John Greenward

2d Assistant Director

Sydney Guilaroff

Hair styles Designer

Carol Haney

Assistant Dance Director

Ed Hartzke

Assistant Editor

Lennie Hayton

Music Director

Wally Heglin

Orchestration

Al Hoffman

Composer

Charles Hunt

Production Manager

Henri Jaffa

Technicolor Color Consultant

Gene Kelly

Music numbers staged and Director

Alma Maison

Stand-in

Jacque Mapes

Set Decoration

Skip Martin

Orchestration

Harry Mcafee

Art Director

Warren Newcombe

Special Effects

Vicky Nichols

Wardrobe

Tony Ordoqui

Props

Helene Parsons

Hairdresser

Frank Phillips

Camera Operator

Walter Plunkett

Costume Design

Irving G. Ries

Special Effects

Harold Rosson

Director of Photography

Bill Ryan

Assistant to Arthur Freed

Conrad Salinger

Orchestration

Dave Saltuper

Wardrobe

Wesley Shanks

Gaffer

Douglas Shearer

Recording Supervisor

Lela Simone

Assistant to Arthur Freed

Walter Strohm

Production Manager

Marvin Stuart

Assistant Director

John True

Makeup

William Tuttle

Makeup created by

Edwin B. Willis

Set Decoration

Photo Collections

Singin' In the Rain - Hair & Wardrobe Stills
Here are a group of hair and wardrobe test stills from Singin' In the Rain (1952), with Debbie Reynolds, Cyd Charisse, and Jean Hagen. Such test stills were taken prior to principal photography to approve the look and design of hair and costumes.
Singin' in the Rain - Publicity Stills - Gene Kelly & Debbie Reynolds
Here are several stills taken of Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds to publicize MGM's Singin' in the Rain (1952). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Singin' in the Rain - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few photos taken behind-the-scenes with Gene Kelly and crew during production of MGM's Singin' in the Rain (1952).
These images are from the collection of Frank Phillips, camera operator on "Singin' in the Rain"

Videos

Movie Clip

Singin' In The Rain (1952) - Moses Supposes Silent star Don (co-director and choreographer Gene Kelly) with diction coach (Robert Watson), joined by musical partner Cosmo (Donald O’Connor) for the flat-out athletic tap number to the song by Roger Edens, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, a rousing bit from Singin’ In The Rain, 1952.
Singin' In The Rain (1952) - All I Do Is Dream Of You The studio boss (Millard Mitchell) after a talking-picture demo, with Cosmo (Donald O’Connor) pal of star Don (Gene Kelly), who’s delighted to find snooty Cathy (Debbie Reynolds) doing a cheesecake gig, song by Nacio Herb Brown and producer Arthur Freed, bimbo Lina (Jean Hagen) getting pied, in Singin’ In The Rain, 1952.
Singin' In The Rain (1952) - I'm Not An Actor! After the premiere, silent-movie star Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) with musical partner Cosmo (Donald O’Connor) in Hollywood, gets mobbed and, with a coy contemporary-swashbuckling escape, meets opinionated Cathy (Debbie Reynolds), early in MGM’s Singin’ In The Rain, 1952.
Singin' In The Rain (1952) - Dignity, Always Dignity Dora (Madge Blake) the M-C, sidekick Cosmo (Donald O’Connor) already in place, co-director Gene Kelly (as matinee idol Don Lockwood), with Jean Hagen, silent for now (as co-star Lina), launches the biography bit, song by Al Hoffman and Al Goodhart, from the opening to MGM’s Singin’ In The Rain, 1952.
Singin' In The Rain (1951) - Zelda's Kid Sister In the “Revolution In Hollywood” montage, Rita Moreno as “Zelda” in the cocktail shaker routine and the cutaways, with four Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed tunes, Jimmy Thompson the crooner, Debbie Reynolds with him as Kathy, Millard Mitchell the studio boss, Donald O’Connor as Cosmo, Tommy Farrell as Sid the A-D, in Singin’ In The Rain, 1951.
Singin' In The Rain (1951) - That Famous Zip Girl In fact the greater part of Rita Moreno’s performance as flapper movie star “Zelda Zanders,” in Singin’ In The Rain, 1951, at the opening of the Gene Kelly/Jean Hagen (Don Lockwood, Lina Lamont) movie, introduced by Madge Blake, Stuart Holmes her “eligible bachelor.”
Singin' In The Rain (1952) - Title Song The complete title song and dance, newly-enraptured Gene Kelly (also co-director with Stanley Donen and choreographer) as movie star Don Lockwood, tune by Nacio Herb Brown, lyrics by Arthur Freed, in the Best Picture-winner made by his famed Freed Unit at MGM, Singin’ In The Rain, 1952.
Singin' In The Rain (1952) - Wired For Sound Comedy set piece on the switch to talkies, Gene Kelly as silent-star Don Lockwood, Jean Hagen stealing it as his dingbat screen lover Lina, with the disastrous voice, Douglas Fowley the imploding director, Millard Mitchell the studio boss with the slapstick payoff, in Singin’ In The Rain, 1952.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Musical
Period
Romantic Comedy
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Apr 11, 1952
Premiere Information
New York opening: 27 Mar 1952; Los Angeles opening: 9 Apr 1952
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Suggested by the song "Singin' in the Rain," music by Nacio Herb Brown, lyrics by Arthur Freed.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,228ft (12 reels)

Award Nominations

Best Score

1952

Best Supporting Actress

1952
Jean Hagen

Articles

The Essentials


SYNOPSIS

Don Lockwood is a famous silent screen star that stars in swashbuckling adventures. His latest venture is The Dueling Cavalier in which he stars opposite Lina Lamont, one of the most glamorous actresses in movies. For publicity purposes they pretend to be romantically involved in their personal lives but, in reality, Don has his eye on Kathy Selden, a chorus girl he met at a film premiere party. When Don's studio boss, R. F. Simpson, decides to turn The Dueling Cavalier into a talking picture, they experience some major problems, particularly with Ms. Lamont whose voice is laughable. Luckily, Don and his buddy, Cosmo Brown, come up with the perfect solution for their temperamental leading lady. They hire Kathy Selden to talk and sing for Ms. Lamont who only has to lip-synch to the words. It's a great plan but it doesn't proceed very smoothly due to Don and Kathy's budding romance which drives Lina to jealous extremes.

Producer: Arthur Freed
Director: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Screenplay: Betty Comden, Adolph Green
Art Direction: Randall Duell, Cedric Gibbons
Cinematography: Harold Rosson
Costume Design: Walter Plunkett
Editing: Adrienne Fazan
Original Music: Nacio Herb Brown, Lennie Hayton
Lyrics: Arthur Freed
Choreography: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen (uncredited)
Cast: Gene Kelly (Don Lockwood), Donald O'Connor (Cosmo Brown), Debbie Reynolds (Kathy Selden), Jean Hagen (Lina Lamont), Millard Mitchell (R.F. Simpson), Cyd Charisse (Dancer), Douglas Fowley (Roscoe Dexter), Rita Moreno (Zelda Zanders).
C-103m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.

Why Singin' in the Rain is Essential

For many critics and fans,Singin' in the Rain is simply the finest musical ever made. And they may be right. Everyone was at the top of their game on this film from the choreographers to the co-directors to the actors to the songwriters. Singin' in the Rain epitomizes everything that made the musical genre such an exciting form of entertainment during the heyday of the studio era. It's also a great cure for the blues. Take a look at Singin' in the Rain and the clouds will disappear, every time.

While the film is chock full of musical highlights, Gene Kelly's "Singin' in the Rain" number is the genuine showstopper. Regarding his immortal solo number, Kelly later commented, quite graciously and modestly, on what made the scene work so well: "The concept was so simple I shied away from explaining it to the brass at the studio in case I couldn't make it sound worth doing. The real work for this one was done by the technicians who had to pipe two city blocks on the backlot with overhead sprays, and the poor cameraman who had to shoot through all that water. All I had to do was dance." The technicians' efforts are all the more remarkable since there was a severe water shortage in Culver City, California, the day the sequence was shot. Singin' in the Rain (1952) rang up a final price tag of $2,540,800, $157,000 of which went to Walter Plunkett's costumes alone. Although the final price overshot MGM's budget by $665,000, the studio quickly realized the wisdom of their investment when the film returned a $7.7 million return upon its initial release.

Gene Kelly was at his peak in Singin' in the Rain and not only poked fun at himself as a swashbuckling matinee idol but also served as co-director and choreographer with Stanley Donen during production. Kelly first made a name for himself in the film industry with Cover Girl (1944) in which he revolutionized the Hollywood musical with his innovative and free-flowing dance routines. He topped that success with an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in Anchors Aweigh (1945) but he really hit his stride with On the Town (1949), the first of three successful collaborations with director Stanley Donen. While there are many other high points in Kelly's later career - An American in Paris (1951), It's Always Fair Weather (1955), and Invitation to the Dance (1956), Singin' in the Rain will probably remain his signature film. Danny Peary, in his book Cult Movies, wrote "I believe that the secret to the picture's greatness is that Kelly, the star, the co-director, willingly shared his picture with his costars. It is not by mere chance that Reynolds, O'Connor, and Hagen have never been better. True, Kelly takes many moments in the limelight, dancing up a storm and turning in a fine, self-parodying (hammy, conceited, smiling) comedic performance. Yet he allows Jean Hagen ample opportunity to walk away with the acting actors."

The role of the ditzy movie diva Lina Lamont was written with Judy Holliday in mind. Holliday was a close personal friend of Betty Comden and Adolph Green and the married couple even modeled the character on routines they had worked up with Holliday back when they were part of a satirical group called The Revuers in New York. But timing was everything and the idea of casting Holliday was vetoed after she hit it big in Born Yesterday (1950). Everyone figured she'd be uninterested in the supporting part but, as it turned out, the lovely Jean Hagen, Holliday's understudy on Broadway for Born Yesterday, got the part.

Debbie Reynolds was only 19 when she was cast as Kathy Selden in Singin' in the Rain. Her relative inexperience in musicals concerned the MGM brass, but Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen convinced the executives that the pert young starlet could hold her ground. Reynolds always stated that Kelly and Donen really didn't want her either because she was not a good enough dancer. But Donen maintains that the co-directors wanted her from the very beginning, even though Judy Garland and June Allyson were once considered as possibilities. Reynolds later remarked that she was "being thrown to the lions." But since she was planning to be a gymnastics instructor, Reynolds was already a natural athlete, and a hard worker. She abandoned the physical fitness field though after being discovered by a talent agent at a beauty contest in Burbank, California.

The character of Cosmo Brown, played by Donald O'Connor, was penned with songwriter and pianist Oscar Levant in mind. But once Gene Kelly became involved in the project, effectively turning the film from a strictly song-centered film to one that emphasized dancing, it was agreed that Donald O'Connor was a better choice for the part. O'Connor's background in the circus (his father was an acrobat for Ringling Brothers and his mother was a tightrope walker) enabled him to bring an immeasurable athleticism to his part. But while O'Connor matched Gene Kelly step for step, he also suffered physically for his art, just like co-star Debbie Reynolds. For the "Make 'em Laugh" number, Kelly asked O'Connor to revive a trick he had done as a young dancer, running up a wall and completing a somersault. The number was so physically taxing that O'Connor, who was smoking four packs of cigarettes a day at the time, went to bed for a week after its completion, suffering from exhaustion and painful carpet burns. Unfortunately, an accident ruined all of the initial footage so after a brief rest, O'Connor, ever the professional, agreed to do the difficult number all over again.

Cyd Charisse, who plays Gene Kelly's dancing partner in the "Broadway Ballet" number, had studied ballet in Los Angeles with Adolph Bolm and Bronislawa Nijinska, and then danced with Ballets Russes under the name of Siderova. After World War II, she was given a dancing role in Gregory Ratoff's Something to Shout About (1943). This role brought her to the attention of choreographer Robert Alton and she was soon hired by Arthur Freed to be the resident ballet dancer at MGM.

by Scott McGee
The Essentials

The Essentials

SYNOPSIS Don Lockwood is a famous silent screen star that stars in swashbuckling adventures. His latest venture is The Dueling Cavalier in which he stars opposite Lina Lamont, one of the most glamorous actresses in movies. For publicity purposes they pretend to be romantically involved in their personal lives but, in reality, Don has his eye on Kathy Selden, a chorus girl he met at a film premiere party. When Don's studio boss, R. F. Simpson, decides to turn The Dueling Cavalier into a talking picture, they experience some major problems, particularly with Ms. Lamont whose voice is laughable. Luckily, Don and his buddy, Cosmo Brown, come up with the perfect solution for their temperamental leading lady. They hire Kathy Selden to talk and sing for Ms. Lamont who only has to lip-synch to the words. It's a great plan but it doesn't proceed very smoothly due to Don and Kathy's budding romance which drives Lina to jealous extremes. Producer: Arthur Freed Director: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly Screenplay: Betty Comden, Adolph Green Art Direction: Randall Duell, Cedric Gibbons Cinematography: Harold Rosson Costume Design: Walter Plunkett Editing: Adrienne Fazan Original Music: Nacio Herb Brown, Lennie Hayton Lyrics: Arthur Freed Choreography: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen (uncredited) Cast: Gene Kelly (Don Lockwood), Donald O'Connor (Cosmo Brown), Debbie Reynolds (Kathy Selden), Jean Hagen (Lina Lamont), Millard Mitchell (R.F. Simpson), Cyd Charisse (Dancer), Douglas Fowley (Roscoe Dexter), Rita Moreno (Zelda Zanders). C-103m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video. Why Singin' in the Rain is Essential For many critics and fans,Singin' in the Rain is simply the finest musical ever made. And they may be right. Everyone was at the top of their game on this film from the choreographers to the co-directors to the actors to the songwriters. Singin' in the Rain epitomizes everything that made the musical genre such an exciting form of entertainment during the heyday of the studio era. It's also a great cure for the blues. Take a look at Singin' in the Rain and the clouds will disappear, every time. While the film is chock full of musical highlights, Gene Kelly's "Singin' in the Rain" number is the genuine showstopper. Regarding his immortal solo number, Kelly later commented, quite graciously and modestly, on what made the scene work so well: "The concept was so simple I shied away from explaining it to the brass at the studio in case I couldn't make it sound worth doing. The real work for this one was done by the technicians who had to pipe two city blocks on the backlot with overhead sprays, and the poor cameraman who had to shoot through all that water. All I had to do was dance." The technicians' efforts are all the more remarkable since there was a severe water shortage in Culver City, California, the day the sequence was shot. Singin' in the Rain (1952) rang up a final price tag of $2,540,800, $157,000 of which went to Walter Plunkett's costumes alone. Although the final price overshot MGM's budget by $665,000, the studio quickly realized the wisdom of their investment when the film returned a $7.7 million return upon its initial release. Gene Kelly was at his peak in Singin' in the Rain and not only poked fun at himself as a swashbuckling matinee idol but also served as co-director and choreographer with Stanley Donen during production. Kelly first made a name for himself in the film industry with Cover Girl (1944) in which he revolutionized the Hollywood musical with his innovative and free-flowing dance routines. He topped that success with an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in Anchors Aweigh (1945) but he really hit his stride with On the Town (1949), the first of three successful collaborations with director Stanley Donen. While there are many other high points in Kelly's later career - An American in Paris (1951), It's Always Fair Weather (1955), and Invitation to the Dance (1956), Singin' in the Rain will probably remain his signature film. Danny Peary, in his book Cult Movies, wrote "I believe that the secret to the picture's greatness is that Kelly, the star, the co-director, willingly shared his picture with his costars. It is not by mere chance that Reynolds, O'Connor, and Hagen have never been better. True, Kelly takes many moments in the limelight, dancing up a storm and turning in a fine, self-parodying (hammy, conceited, smiling) comedic performance. Yet he allows Jean Hagen ample opportunity to walk away with the acting actors." The role of the ditzy movie diva Lina Lamont was written with Judy Holliday in mind. Holliday was a close personal friend of Betty Comden and Adolph Green and the married couple even modeled the character on routines they had worked up with Holliday back when they were part of a satirical group called The Revuers in New York. But timing was everything and the idea of casting Holliday was vetoed after she hit it big in Born Yesterday (1950). Everyone figured she'd be uninterested in the supporting part but, as it turned out, the lovely Jean Hagen, Holliday's understudy on Broadway for Born Yesterday, got the part. Debbie Reynolds was only 19 when she was cast as Kathy Selden in Singin' in the Rain. Her relative inexperience in musicals concerned the MGM brass, but Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen convinced the executives that the pert young starlet could hold her ground. Reynolds always stated that Kelly and Donen really didn't want her either because she was not a good enough dancer. But Donen maintains that the co-directors wanted her from the very beginning, even though Judy Garland and June Allyson were once considered as possibilities. Reynolds later remarked that she was "being thrown to the lions." But since she was planning to be a gymnastics instructor, Reynolds was already a natural athlete, and a hard worker. She abandoned the physical fitness field though after being discovered by a talent agent at a beauty contest in Burbank, California. The character of Cosmo Brown, played by Donald O'Connor, was penned with songwriter and pianist Oscar Levant in mind. But once Gene Kelly became involved in the project, effectively turning the film from a strictly song-centered film to one that emphasized dancing, it was agreed that Donald O'Connor was a better choice for the part. O'Connor's background in the circus (his father was an acrobat for Ringling Brothers and his mother was a tightrope walker) enabled him to bring an immeasurable athleticism to his part. But while O'Connor matched Gene Kelly step for step, he also suffered physically for his art, just like co-star Debbie Reynolds. For the "Make 'em Laugh" number, Kelly asked O'Connor to revive a trick he had done as a young dancer, running up a wall and completing a somersault. The number was so physically taxing that O'Connor, who was smoking four packs of cigarettes a day at the time, went to bed for a week after its completion, suffering from exhaustion and painful carpet burns. Unfortunately, an accident ruined all of the initial footage so after a brief rest, O'Connor, ever the professional, agreed to do the difficult number all over again. Cyd Charisse, who plays Gene Kelly's dancing partner in the "Broadway Ballet" number, had studied ballet in Los Angeles with Adolph Bolm and Bronislawa Nijinska, and then danced with Ballets Russes under the name of Siderova. After World War II, she was given a dancing role in Gregory Ratoff's Something to Shout About (1943). This role brought her to the attention of choreographer Robert Alton and she was soon hired by Arthur Freed to be the resident ballet dancer at MGM. by Scott McGee

Pop Culture - SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952)


Pop Culture 101 - SINGIN' IN THE RAIN

Singin' in the Rain drew as much from past popular culture as it did from contemporary references and attitudes. Most of the songs were drawn from past musicals: "You Were Meant For Me" and "The Wedding of the Painted Doll," were warbled in The Broadway Melody (1929), while "Good Morning" was crooned in Babes in Arms (1939). The title song first appeared in The Hollywood Revue of 1929, with MGM's stable of stars decked out in raincoats, singing in unison to the tune. "All I Do Is Dream of You" was featured in Sadie McKee (1934); "Should I?" showed up in Lord Byron of Broadway (1930); "Beautiful Girl" was banged out by Bing Crosby in Going Hollywood (1933); "You Are My Lucky Star," "Broadway Rhythm," and "I've Got a Feelin' You're Foolin'" were all part of Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935); and "Would You" is from San Francisco (1936). "Make 'em Laugh" shamelessly draws upon Cole Porter's "Be a Clown," which was featured in The Pirate (1948), also starring Gene Kelly. One of the popular favorites in Singin' in the Rain is "Moses Supposes," which was an original composition written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

Just as Kelly and co-director Stanley Donen reused a huge repertoire of popular songs from earlier musicals, the duo also looted the MGM warehouses for props and vehicles. The car Debbie Reynolds drives at the beginning of the film was actually Andy Hardy's old jalopy. The mansion in which Gene Kelly lives was decorated with tables, chairs, carpets and other items that were used for John Gilbert and Greta Garbo's passionate romantic drama, Flesh and the Devil (1926). Even the costumes were based on old Hollywood styles. Costume designer Walter Plunkett devised Lina Lamont's wardrobe by duplicating his own gown designs for silent screen star Lilyan Tashman, who was, according to Plunkett, "the epitome of chic at that time." In addition, Kelly and Donen grilled MGM employees on their memories of the silent era. Some veterans on the set still remembered the problems of early sound recording, and the art directors actually unearthed filmmaking equipment from the past, including an "icebox" to house the sound camera from old specifications and designs. A neglected soundstage used during the silent era was also located and brought back into active service for the production.

The song "Singin' in the Rain" has been featured in many films, but it was Stanley Kubrick who made ironic use of the song in his bleak vision of a dystopian future, A Clockwork Orange (1971). Kubrick mulled for days over a way to shoot the scene where Alex (Malcolm McDowell) brutalizes a woman. Out of the blue, he turned to McDowell and asked, "Can you sing?" McDowell replied, "I only know one song," and he started to do "Singin' in the Rain." Kubrick then left the room and called Warner Bros. in Hollywood to ask if he could obtain the rights to "Singin' in the Rain." He came back to the set an hour later and wryly told Adrienne Corri (cast as the rape/murder victim), "You're playing the Debbie Reynolds part, Corri." Coincidentally, Stanley Donen was in London at the time and not far from the location site for A Clockwork Orange. When Kubrick asked Donen for his opinion of this new use of the song, Donen surprisingly raised no objections.

The "Broadway Ballet" sequence was partially based on an idea that was used for Du Barry Was a Lady (1943), starring Red Skelton as a nightclub worker who dreams that he's King Louis XVI.

by Scott McGee

Pop Culture - SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952)

Pop Culture 101 - SINGIN' IN THE RAIN Singin' in the Rain drew as much from past popular culture as it did from contemporary references and attitudes. Most of the songs were drawn from past musicals: "You Were Meant For Me" and "The Wedding of the Painted Doll," were warbled in The Broadway Melody (1929), while "Good Morning" was crooned in Babes in Arms (1939). The title song first appeared in The Hollywood Revue of 1929, with MGM's stable of stars decked out in raincoats, singing in unison to the tune. "All I Do Is Dream of You" was featured in Sadie McKee (1934); "Should I?" showed up in Lord Byron of Broadway (1930); "Beautiful Girl" was banged out by Bing Crosby in Going Hollywood (1933); "You Are My Lucky Star," "Broadway Rhythm," and "I've Got a Feelin' You're Foolin'" were all part of Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935); and "Would You" is from San Francisco (1936). "Make 'em Laugh" shamelessly draws upon Cole Porter's "Be a Clown," which was featured in The Pirate (1948), also starring Gene Kelly. One of the popular favorites in Singin' in the Rain is "Moses Supposes," which was an original composition written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Just as Kelly and co-director Stanley Donen reused a huge repertoire of popular songs from earlier musicals, the duo also looted the MGM warehouses for props and vehicles. The car Debbie Reynolds drives at the beginning of the film was actually Andy Hardy's old jalopy. The mansion in which Gene Kelly lives was decorated with tables, chairs, carpets and other items that were used for John Gilbert and Greta Garbo's passionate romantic drama, Flesh and the Devil (1926). Even the costumes were based on old Hollywood styles. Costume designer Walter Plunkett devised Lina Lamont's wardrobe by duplicating his own gown designs for silent screen star Lilyan Tashman, who was, according to Plunkett, "the epitome of chic at that time." In addition, Kelly and Donen grilled MGM employees on their memories of the silent era. Some veterans on the set still remembered the problems of early sound recording, and the art directors actually unearthed filmmaking equipment from the past, including an "icebox" to house the sound camera from old specifications and designs. A neglected soundstage used during the silent era was also located and brought back into active service for the production. The song "Singin' in the Rain" has been featured in many films, but it was Stanley Kubrick who made ironic use of the song in his bleak vision of a dystopian future, A Clockwork Orange (1971). Kubrick mulled for days over a way to shoot the scene where Alex (Malcolm McDowell) brutalizes a woman. Out of the blue, he turned to McDowell and asked, "Can you sing?" McDowell replied, "I only know one song," and he started to do "Singin' in the Rain." Kubrick then left the room and called Warner Bros. in Hollywood to ask if he could obtain the rights to "Singin' in the Rain." He came back to the set an hour later and wryly told Adrienne Corri (cast as the rape/murder victim), "You're playing the Debbie Reynolds part, Corri." Coincidentally, Stanley Donen was in London at the time and not far from the location site for A Clockwork Orange. When Kubrick asked Donen for his opinion of this new use of the song, Donen surprisingly raised no objections. The "Broadway Ballet" sequence was partially based on an idea that was used for Du Barry Was a Lady (1943), starring Red Skelton as a nightclub worker who dreams that he's King Louis XVI. by Scott McGee

Trivia - SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952)


SINGIN' IN THE RAIN - Trivia and Other Fun Stuff

Mae Clarke can be glimpsed as a hairdresser in Singin' in the Rain. She was immortalized as the gun moll who gets a grapefruit in the kisser from James Cagney in The Public Enemy (1931).

Like the character of Cosmo Brown in Singin' in the Rain, producer Arthur Freed was once employed as a mood-music pianist who played on movie sets during the silent film era.

Among his many musicals, Gene Kelly did not rank Singin' in the Rain as his personal favorite. He always considered On the Town (1949) his best work.

The comical bit that Donald O'Connor does in the "Make 'em Laugh" sequence, where he pushes and pulls on his face to make absurd faces, is known as "gurning."

Gene Kelly reportedly had a 103 degrees temperature when he filmed the famous title number and his drenched clothing certainly didn't improve his condition. The rain, consisting of water and a touch of milk, also caused Kelly's wool suit to shrink.

Ironically, Debbie Reynolds' voice was dubbed by Betty Royce for the scenes where Reynolds' character dubs Lina Lamont's singing and speaking voice. And in one scene were Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) is dubbing Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen), Hagen is actually dubbing Reynolds dubbing Hagen on screen for just one line. Is that confusing enough?

At R.F. Simpson's house party where a demonstration of the new 'talking' picture is first shown, you'll notice a mysterious movie star couple slinking around the sidelines, dressed to the nines. That couple is a caricature of two silent film superstars, the actor being an amalgamation of John Gilbert and Rudolph Valentino, while the exotic vamp may be a spoof of Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo, and Pola Negri.

Other references to old Hollywood in Singin' in the Rain include Cyd Charisse's hair style, which resembles Louise Brooks' famous bob, and Charisse's gangster boyfriend, who flips a coin like George Raft did in Scarface, Shame of a Nation (1932). Don Lockwood's (Gene Kelly) laughable dialogue in the disastrous preview of the all-talking "The Dueling Cavalier" is based on fact. The sad decline of silent screen idol John Gilbert was hastened by a similar situation in one of his early sound films - Redemption (1930) which features equally lame dialogue. John Gilbert is referred to again in Singin' in the Rain, when Don Lockwood disparages Kathy's "acting" at the Hollywood party by asking if she's going to do the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. It was in MGM's early talkie, The Hollywood Revue of 1929, that Gilbert performed that very scene with Norma Shearer.

Director Stanley Donen has always felt that the title, Singin' in the Rain, was something of a misnomer since the story has nothing to do with the weather, and everything to do with Tinsletown. He thinks it should have been called Hollywood.

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gene Kelly's father had once worked as a phonograph record salesman but lost his job due to the declining record market, which had been adversely affected by the rising popularity of radio and talking pictures.

While Singin' in the Rain was being filmed on MGM's Culver City lot, there was another movie in production which focused on the film industry - The Bad and the Beautiful (1952). The Vincente Minnelli melodrama was being filmed simultaneously on a nearby soundstage.

Famous Quotes from SINGIN' IN THE RAIN

Lina: Oh Donny! You couldn't kiss me like that and not mean it just a teensy bit!
Don: Meet the greatest actor in the world! I'd rather kiss a tarantula.
Lina: You don't mean that.
Don: I don't--- Hey Joe, get me a tarantula.

Lina: Gee, this wig weighs a ton! What dope'd wear a thing like this?
Roscoe: Everybody used to wear them, Lina.
Lina: Well, then everybody was a dope.

Cosmo: Talking pictures, that means I'm out of a job. At last I can start suffering and write that symphony.
Simpson: You're not out of a job, we're putting you in as head of our new music department.
Cosmo: Oh, thanks, R.F.! At last I can stop suffering and write that symphony.

Lina: Why, I make more money than - than - than Calvin Coolidge, put together!

Lina: "People"? I ain't "people." I am a - "a shimmering, glowing star in the cinema firmament."

Lina: If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, it makes us feel as if our hard work ain't been in vain for nothing.

[A dancer watching Lina Lamont in "The Royal Rascal"] Flapper: She's so refined. I think I'll kill myself.

Lockwood: What's the matter with that girl? Can't she take a gentle hint?
Cosmo: Well haven't ya heard? She's irresistible. She told me so herself.

Compiled by Scott McGee

Trivia - SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952)

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN - Trivia and Other Fun Stuff Mae Clarke can be glimpsed as a hairdresser in Singin' in the Rain. She was immortalized as the gun moll who gets a grapefruit in the kisser from James Cagney in The Public Enemy (1931). Like the character of Cosmo Brown in Singin' in the Rain, producer Arthur Freed was once employed as a mood-music pianist who played on movie sets during the silent film era. Among his many musicals, Gene Kelly did not rank Singin' in the Rain as his personal favorite. He always considered On the Town (1949) his best work. The comical bit that Donald O'Connor does in the "Make 'em Laugh" sequence, where he pushes and pulls on his face to make absurd faces, is known as "gurning." Gene Kelly reportedly had a 103 degrees temperature when he filmed the famous title number and his drenched clothing certainly didn't improve his condition. The rain, consisting of water and a touch of milk, also caused Kelly's wool suit to shrink. Ironically, Debbie Reynolds' voice was dubbed by Betty Royce for the scenes where Reynolds' character dubs Lina Lamont's singing and speaking voice. And in one scene were Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) is dubbing Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen), Hagen is actually dubbing Reynolds dubbing Hagen on screen for just one line. Is that confusing enough? At R.F. Simpson's house party where a demonstration of the new 'talking' picture is first shown, you'll notice a mysterious movie star couple slinking around the sidelines, dressed to the nines. That couple is a caricature of two silent film superstars, the actor being an amalgamation of John Gilbert and Rudolph Valentino, while the exotic vamp may be a spoof of Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo, and Pola Negri. Other references to old Hollywood in Singin' in the Rain include Cyd Charisse's hair style, which resembles Louise Brooks' famous bob, and Charisse's gangster boyfriend, who flips a coin like George Raft did in Scarface, Shame of a Nation (1932). Don Lockwood's (Gene Kelly) laughable dialogue in the disastrous preview of the all-talking "The Dueling Cavalier" is based on fact. The sad decline of silent screen idol John Gilbert was hastened by a similar situation in one of his early sound films - Redemption (1930) which features equally lame dialogue. John Gilbert is referred to again in Singin' in the Rain, when Don Lockwood disparages Kathy's "acting" at the Hollywood party by asking if she's going to do the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. It was in MGM's early talkie, The Hollywood Revue of 1929, that Gilbert performed that very scene with Norma Shearer. Director Stanley Donen has always felt that the title, Singin' in the Rain, was something of a misnomer since the story has nothing to do with the weather, and everything to do with Tinsletown. He thinks it should have been called Hollywood. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gene Kelly's father had once worked as a phonograph record salesman but lost his job due to the declining record market, which had been adversely affected by the rising popularity of radio and talking pictures. While Singin' in the Rain was being filmed on MGM's Culver City lot, there was another movie in production which focused on the film industry - The Bad and the Beautiful (1952). The Vincente Minnelli melodrama was being filmed simultaneously on a nearby soundstage. Famous Quotes from SINGIN' IN THE RAIN Lina: Oh Donny! You couldn't kiss me like that and not mean it just a teensy bit! Don: Meet the greatest actor in the world! I'd rather kiss a tarantula. Lina: You don't mean that. Don: I don't--- Hey Joe, get me a tarantula. Lina: Gee, this wig weighs a ton! What dope'd wear a thing like this? Roscoe: Everybody used to wear them, Lina. Lina: Well, then everybody was a dope. Cosmo: Talking pictures, that means I'm out of a job. At last I can start suffering and write that symphony. Simpson: You're not out of a job, we're putting you in as head of our new music department. Cosmo: Oh, thanks, R.F.! At last I can stop suffering and write that symphony. Lina: Why, I make more money than - than - than Calvin Coolidge, put together! Lina: "People"? I ain't "people." I am a - "a shimmering, glowing star in the cinema firmament." Lina: If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, it makes us feel as if our hard work ain't been in vain for nothing. [A dancer watching Lina Lamont in "The Royal Rascal"] Flapper: She's so refined. I think I'll kill myself. Lockwood: What's the matter with that girl? Can't she take a gentle hint? Cosmo: Well haven't ya heard? She's irresistible. She told me so herself. Compiled by Scott McGee

The Big Idea - SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952)


The Big Idea Behind SINGIN' IN THE RAIN

MGM producer Arthur Freed decided to make a "catalogue" picture, a musical sub-genre often based on a catalogue of music from a single songwriting source. In the case of Singin' in the Rain (1952), the source was Nacio Herb Brown and Freed himself (the producer had been a songwriter before producing films). Betty Comden and Adolph Green were commissioned to write a musical that would build upon Freed and Brown's extensive oeuvre of musical tunes. After being hired, Comden and Green decided that Hollywood during the 'Roaring Twenties' - the era of flappers, pinstripes, and early jalopies - would be the perfect setting for the film. They first thought about remaking Bombshell (1933), a satire about tinsel town starring Jean Harlow, with Howard Keel, one of the leading baritones on the screen, as the star. In fact, they toyed with the idea of having Keel play a two-bit western actor who becomes a singing cowboy. But this idea was abandoned after Gene Kelly expressed an interest in the project.

The idea of having the main character, Don Lockwood (played by Kelly), break into the motion picture business by performing stunts on movies has a kernel of truth to it. Most of the early stuntmen came from professions other than the movies, such as the rodeo circuit or the nascent aviation industry. Admittedly, not many of the stuntmen came from a musical background like Gene Kelly's character does in Singin' in the Rain. However, many established movie stars, such as Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Buster Keaton, were known for their ability to perform daring stunts that even the most experienced professional stuntman would hesitate to perform.

The original idea for a spectacular, pull-out-the-stops climax was not the "Broadway Ballet" sequence which is a highlight of Singin' in the Rain but an extravagant musical number set in the Wild West with Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O'Connor traveling across the plains in a covered wagon. The trio of piano playing pioneers would be attacked by Indians, somehow managing to save their own scalps by diverting their captors with the universal language of music and dance....at least, until the cavalry arrived to save the day. Fortunately, this idea was scrapped in favor of the superior "Broadway Ballet" sequence.

By Scott McGee

The Big Idea - SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952)

The Big Idea Behind SINGIN' IN THE RAIN MGM producer Arthur Freed decided to make a "catalogue" picture, a musical sub-genre often based on a catalogue of music from a single songwriting source. In the case of Singin' in the Rain (1952), the source was Nacio Herb Brown and Freed himself (the producer had been a songwriter before producing films). Betty Comden and Adolph Green were commissioned to write a musical that would build upon Freed and Brown's extensive oeuvre of musical tunes. After being hired, Comden and Green decided that Hollywood during the 'Roaring Twenties' - the era of flappers, pinstripes, and early jalopies - would be the perfect setting for the film. They first thought about remaking Bombshell (1933), a satire about tinsel town starring Jean Harlow, with Howard Keel, one of the leading baritones on the screen, as the star. In fact, they toyed with the idea of having Keel play a two-bit western actor who becomes a singing cowboy. But this idea was abandoned after Gene Kelly expressed an interest in the project. The idea of having the main character, Don Lockwood (played by Kelly), break into the motion picture business by performing stunts on movies has a kernel of truth to it. Most of the early stuntmen came from professions other than the movies, such as the rodeo circuit or the nascent aviation industry. Admittedly, not many of the stuntmen came from a musical background like Gene Kelly's character does in Singin' in the Rain. However, many established movie stars, such as Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Buster Keaton, were known for their ability to perform daring stunts that even the most experienced professional stuntman would hesitate to perform. The original idea for a spectacular, pull-out-the-stops climax was not the "Broadway Ballet" sequence which is a highlight of Singin' in the Rain but an extravagant musical number set in the Wild West with Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O'Connor traveling across the plains in a covered wagon. The trio of piano playing pioneers would be attacked by Indians, somehow managing to save their own scalps by diverting their captors with the universal language of music and dance....at least, until the cavalry arrived to save the day. Fortunately, this idea was scrapped in favor of the superior "Broadway Ballet" sequence. By Scott McGee

Behind the Camera - SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952)


Behind the Camera on SINGIN' IN THE RAIN

For the dream segment within the "Broadway Ballet" sequence, Gene Kelly choreographed a scarf dance, using an enormous fifty-foot veil of white China silk attached to Cyd Charisse's costume. A strong wind was created using airplane motors but Cyd Charisse could hardly stay on her feet because of the pressure of the wind. The "Broadway Ballet" sequence took a month to rehearse, two weeks to shoot, and cost $600,000, almost a fifth of the overall budget.

One crucial ingredient needed to guarantee the success of Singin' in the Rain was the right cinematographer. John Alton, who had won an Oscar for his color photography on An American in Paris (1951), had been assigned to the picture, but Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen soon had him replaced with Harold Rosson, who had worked with Kelly and Donen in On the Town (1949). Rosson's lighting and mobile camera are very evident in the "Singin' in the Rain" number. The title song was shot out of doors on one of the permanent streets built on the studio backlot - the East Side Street. The area was blacked out with tarpaulins (rather than shooting "day-for-night") and had to be lit from behind so that the rain was visible to the camera but without the carbon arc lights reflecting in the shop windows. Milk was added to the water to make it more visible to the camera. A similar method was used by Akira Kurosawa for the opening and closing sequences in Rashomon (1950).

The "Make 'em Laugh" sequence was created because Gene Kelly felt that Donald O'Connor needed a solo number. As O'Connor noted in an interview, "Gene didn't have a clue as to the kind of number it was meant to be." The two of them brainstormed ideas in the rehearsal room, and came up with a compendium of gags and "shtick" that O'Connor had done for years, some of which he had performed in vaudeville. O'Connor recalled, "Every time I got a new idea or remembered something that had worked well for me in the past, Gene wrote it down and, bit by bit, the entire number was constructed." The real highpoint - the scene where O'Connor runs up a wall and completes a somersault - was one that O'Connor had performed years before in vaudeville. To give himself confidence for the sequence, O'Connor invited his brother over to help him rehearse the stunt with a rope.

Debbie Reynolds had to train rigorously for her role so she could keep up with Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor. This meant mastering the art of tap dancing and other complicated steps. After they finished the "Good Morning" number, Reynolds had to be carried to her dressing room because she had burst some blood vessels in her feet. Reynolds later stated that she "learned a lot from (Kelly). He is a perfectionist and a disciplinarian - the most exciting director I've ever worked for. And he has a good temper. Every so often he would yell at me and make me cry. But it took a lot of patience for him to work with someone who had never danced before. It's amazing that I could keep up with him and Donald O'Connor." Kelly later commented on her work, "Fortunately, Debbie was strong as an ox...also she was a great copyist, and she could pick up the most complicated routine without too much difficulty...at the university of hard work and pain." But despite her hard work on the "Good Morning" number, Kelly decided that someone should dub her tap sounds, so he went into a dubbing room to dub the sound of her feet as well as his own.

By Scott McGee

Behind the Camera - SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952)

Behind the Camera on SINGIN' IN THE RAIN For the dream segment within the "Broadway Ballet" sequence, Gene Kelly choreographed a scarf dance, using an enormous fifty-foot veil of white China silk attached to Cyd Charisse's costume. A strong wind was created using airplane motors but Cyd Charisse could hardly stay on her feet because of the pressure of the wind. The "Broadway Ballet" sequence took a month to rehearse, two weeks to shoot, and cost $600,000, almost a fifth of the overall budget. One crucial ingredient needed to guarantee the success of Singin' in the Rain was the right cinematographer. John Alton, who had won an Oscar for his color photography on An American in Paris (1951), had been assigned to the picture, but Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen soon had him replaced with Harold Rosson, who had worked with Kelly and Donen in On the Town (1949). Rosson's lighting and mobile camera are very evident in the "Singin' in the Rain" number. The title song was shot out of doors on one of the permanent streets built on the studio backlot - the East Side Street. The area was blacked out with tarpaulins (rather than shooting "day-for-night") and had to be lit from behind so that the rain was visible to the camera but without the carbon arc lights reflecting in the shop windows. Milk was added to the water to make it more visible to the camera. A similar method was used by Akira Kurosawa for the opening and closing sequences in Rashomon (1950). The "Make 'em Laugh" sequence was created because Gene Kelly felt that Donald O'Connor needed a solo number. As O'Connor noted in an interview, "Gene didn't have a clue as to the kind of number it was meant to be." The two of them brainstormed ideas in the rehearsal room, and came up with a compendium of gags and "shtick" that O'Connor had done for years, some of which he had performed in vaudeville. O'Connor recalled, "Every time I got a new idea or remembered something that had worked well for me in the past, Gene wrote it down and, bit by bit, the entire number was constructed." The real highpoint - the scene where O'Connor runs up a wall and completes a somersault - was one that O'Connor had performed years before in vaudeville. To give himself confidence for the sequence, O'Connor invited his brother over to help him rehearse the stunt with a rope. Debbie Reynolds had to train rigorously for her role so she could keep up with Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor. This meant mastering the art of tap dancing and other complicated steps. After they finished the "Good Morning" number, Reynolds had to be carried to her dressing room because she had burst some blood vessels in her feet. Reynolds later stated that she "learned a lot from (Kelly). He is a perfectionist and a disciplinarian - the most exciting director I've ever worked for. And he has a good temper. Every so often he would yell at me and make me cry. But it took a lot of patience for him to work with someone who had never danced before. It's amazing that I could keep up with him and Donald O'Connor." Kelly later commented on her work, "Fortunately, Debbie was strong as an ox...also she was a great copyist, and she could pick up the most complicated routine without too much difficulty...at the university of hard work and pain." But despite her hard work on the "Good Morning" number, Kelly decided that someone should dub her tap sounds, so he went into a dubbing room to dub the sound of her feet as well as his own. By Scott McGee

The Critics Corner - SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952)


The Critics' Corner on SINGIN' IN THE RAIN

"Singin' in the Rain" has been voted one of the greatest films of all time in international critics' polls, and is routinely called the greatest of all the Hollywood musicals. I don't think there's any doubt about that. There are other contenders--"Top Hat," "Swing Time," "An American in Paris," "The Bandwagon," "Oklahoma," "West Side Story"--but "Singin' in the Rain" comes first because it is not only from Hollywood, it is about Hollywood. It is set at the moment in the late 1920s when the movies first started to talk, and many of its best gags involve technical details." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

"Escapism raised to the level of art, Singin' In The Rain inventively satirizes the illusions of the filmmaking process while celebrating their life-affirming joy. Half parody, half homage, the movie became the apex of the splashy MGM musical, while showcasing the collaborative possibilities of the studio system. At the time of its release in 1952, Singin' was overshadowed a bit by An American In Paris, which won the Oscar for best picture and was at the time viewed by many as Kelly's magnum opus. Yet 50 years later, the fizzy pop exuberance of Singin' resonates more strongly than Paris' tasteful ambition." - Nathan Rabin, The Onion A.V. Club.

"As fresh as it was thirty years and as many viewings ago, Singin' in the Rain is truly one of the great joys of the cinema, the most uplifting of films...this is also the best, most perceptive, most informative picture ever made about the movie industry." - Danny Peary, Cult Movies.

Awards & Honors

Most people find it hard to believe but Singin' in the Rain earned only two Academy Award nominations; one for Jean Hagen as Best Supporting Actress and one for Lennie Hayton's musical score. Unfortunately, the film won no Academy Awards on Oscar night. While it certainly was an egregious mistake on the Academy's part to ignore such a bona fide American classic, Singin' in the Rain was not as universally lauded in 1952 as it is today. In fact, it was another Gene Kelly musical that was still fresh in everyone's mind - An American in Paris (1951) which won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1951. Singin' in the Rain was considered a lesser effort compared to the popular Vincente Minnelli extravaganza. In fact, the publicity for the April 1952 premiere of Singin' in the Rain was overshadowed by the re-release of An American in Paris (1951) during Oscar month where it swept the awards. It wasn't until 20 years later that Singin' in the Rain started to become an Essential, having been introduced to a new generation of movie lovers via television showings and a prominent place in MGM's feature release, That's Entertainment! (1974). Since its release, Singin' in the Rain has garnered a shelf full of awards and citations, with the exception of the Academy Awards. When the National Film Registry selected their first 25 films in 1989 that were considered culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant, only one musical made the list, and that was Singin' in the Rain. Furthermore, the movie was ranked in the top ten greatest films of all time according to the American Film Institute. Singin' in the Rain reached the number four slot in Sight and Sound's 1982 fiftieth anniversary poll of world film critics' "ten best lists," ranking behind Citizen Kane (1941), The Rules of the Game (1939), and The Seven Samurai (1954).

Compiled by Scott McGee

The Critics Corner - SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952)

The Critics' Corner on SINGIN' IN THE RAIN "Singin' in the Rain" has been voted one of the greatest films of all time in international critics' polls, and is routinely called the greatest of all the Hollywood musicals. I don't think there's any doubt about that. There are other contenders--"Top Hat," "Swing Time," "An American in Paris," "The Bandwagon," "Oklahoma," "West Side Story"--but "Singin' in the Rain" comes first because it is not only from Hollywood, it is about Hollywood. It is set at the moment in the late 1920s when the movies first started to talk, and many of its best gags involve technical details." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times. "Escapism raised to the level of art, Singin' In The Rain inventively satirizes the illusions of the filmmaking process while celebrating their life-affirming joy. Half parody, half homage, the movie became the apex of the splashy MGM musical, while showcasing the collaborative possibilities of the studio system. At the time of its release in 1952, Singin' was overshadowed a bit by An American In Paris, which won the Oscar for best picture and was at the time viewed by many as Kelly's magnum opus. Yet 50 years later, the fizzy pop exuberance of Singin' resonates more strongly than Paris' tasteful ambition." - Nathan Rabin, The Onion A.V. Club. "As fresh as it was thirty years and as many viewings ago, Singin' in the Rain is truly one of the great joys of the cinema, the most uplifting of films...this is also the best, most perceptive, most informative picture ever made about the movie industry." - Danny Peary, Cult Movies. Awards & Honors Most people find it hard to believe but Singin' in the Rain earned only two Academy Award nominations; one for Jean Hagen as Best Supporting Actress and one for Lennie Hayton's musical score. Unfortunately, the film won no Academy Awards on Oscar night. While it certainly was an egregious mistake on the Academy's part to ignore such a bona fide American classic, Singin' in the Rain was not as universally lauded in 1952 as it is today. In fact, it was another Gene Kelly musical that was still fresh in everyone's mind - An American in Paris (1951) which won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1951. Singin' in the Rain was considered a lesser effort compared to the popular Vincente Minnelli extravaganza. In fact, the publicity for the April 1952 premiere of Singin' in the Rain was overshadowed by the re-release of An American in Paris (1951) during Oscar month where it swept the awards. It wasn't until 20 years later that Singin' in the Rain started to become an Essential, having been introduced to a new generation of movie lovers via television showings and a prominent place in MGM's feature release, That's Entertainment! (1974). Since its release, Singin' in the Rain has garnered a shelf full of awards and citations, with the exception of the Academy Awards. When the National Film Registry selected their first 25 films in 1989 that were considered culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant, only one musical made the list, and that was Singin' in the Rain. Furthermore, the movie was ranked in the top ten greatest films of all time according to the American Film Institute. Singin' in the Rain reached the number four slot in Sight and Sound's 1982 fiftieth anniversary poll of world film critics' "ten best lists," ranking behind Citizen Kane (1941), The Rules of the Game (1939), and The Seven Samurai (1954). Compiled by Scott McGee

Singin' in the Rain - Singin' in the Rain


If TCM host Robert Osborne had his way, the winner of the Oscar® as Best Supporting Actress of 1952 would have been Jean Hagen for MGM's Singin' in the Rain (1952), not Gloria Grahame for the same studio's The Bad and the Beautiful. In the classic musical about the early sound days in Hollywood, Hagen plays Lina Lamont, the glamorous "Queen of the Silent Screen" whose voice unfortunately sounds like chalk on a blackboard. Hagen's hilarious performance owes something to Judy Holliday, who developed a similar character in routines worked up with Singin' in the Rain screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green when all three were part of a New York satirical troupe called "The Revuers." Holliday had since become a movie star, thanks to her Oscar®-winning performance as Billie Dawn, another squeaky-voiced character, in Born Yesterday (1950). Because a supporting role no longer was appropriate for Holliday, the Singin' in the Rain producers went after Hagen, her understudy in the stage version of Born Yesterday.

That Oscar® might have proven the shot in the arm Hagen appeared to need in her film career. A versatile actress who could switch with ease from musical comedy to drama (The Asphalt Jungle, 1950), she never again got the great opportunity afforded her in Singin' in the Rain. After several minor film roles and a three-year stint on TV's The Danny Thomas Show, she made her final movie appearance in Dead Ringer (1964) and died at age 54 in 1977.

Two other female performers were luckier in building on their success in Singin' in the Rain. The movie elevated Debbie Reynolds to full-fledged MGM stardom after small roles in such musicals as Three Little Words (1950) and Two Weeks With Love (1950). An inexperienced dancer when she began making Singin' in the Rain, Reynolds had to drive herself mercilessly to keep up with hard-driving costars Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor. She recalled later that after one strenuous number, she had to be carried to her dressing room because she had burst blood vessels in her feet. Cyd Charisse lucked into her small but star-making role in the film when O'Connor was not available for the climactic "Broadway Melody Ballet," providing an opening for a female dance partner for Kelly. Charisse had been hovering on the edge of stardom at MGM for some years. The unforgettable moment, when one of those long legs shot up with Kelly's hat balanced on her foot, turned the trick. Within a year Charisse was starring in her first musical lead in The Band Wagon (1953), opposite ideal partner Fred Astaire.

Ironically, in view of the fact that many feel Singin' in the Rain is the greatest of all screen muscials, it won only one other Oscar nomination - for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture. It lost to Alfred Newman's score for With a Song in My Heart.

Producer: Arthur Freed
Director: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Screenplay: Betty Comden, Adolph Green
Art Direction: Randall Duell, Cedric Gibbons
Cinematography: Harold Rosson
Costume Design: Walter Plunkett
Editing: Adrienne Fazan
Original Music: Nacio Herb Brown, Lennie Hayton
Lyrics: Arthur Freed
Choreography: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen (uncredited)
Cast: Gene Kelly (Don Lockwood), Donald O'Connor (Cosmo Brown), Debbie Reynolds (Kathy Selden), Jean Hagen (Lina Lamont), Millard Mitchell (R.F. Simpson), Cyd Charisse (Dancer), Douglas Fowley (Roscoe Dexter), Rita Moreno (Zelda Zanders).
C-103m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.

by Roger Fristoe

Singin' in the Rain - Singin' in the Rain

If TCM host Robert Osborne had his way, the winner of the Oscar® as Best Supporting Actress of 1952 would have been Jean Hagen for MGM's Singin' in the Rain (1952), not Gloria Grahame for the same studio's The Bad and the Beautiful. In the classic musical about the early sound days in Hollywood, Hagen plays Lina Lamont, the glamorous "Queen of the Silent Screen" whose voice unfortunately sounds like chalk on a blackboard. Hagen's hilarious performance owes something to Judy Holliday, who developed a similar character in routines worked up with Singin' in the Rain screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green when all three were part of a New York satirical troupe called "The Revuers." Holliday had since become a movie star, thanks to her Oscar®-winning performance as Billie Dawn, another squeaky-voiced character, in Born Yesterday (1950). Because a supporting role no longer was appropriate for Holliday, the Singin' in the Rain producers went after Hagen, her understudy in the stage version of Born Yesterday. That Oscar® might have proven the shot in the arm Hagen appeared to need in her film career. A versatile actress who could switch with ease from musical comedy to drama (The Asphalt Jungle, 1950), she never again got the great opportunity afforded her in Singin' in the Rain. After several minor film roles and a three-year stint on TV's The Danny Thomas Show, she made her final movie appearance in Dead Ringer (1964) and died at age 54 in 1977. Two other female performers were luckier in building on their success in Singin' in the Rain. The movie elevated Debbie Reynolds to full-fledged MGM stardom after small roles in such musicals as Three Little Words (1950) and Two Weeks With Love (1950). An inexperienced dancer when she began making Singin' in the Rain, Reynolds had to drive herself mercilessly to keep up with hard-driving costars Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor. She recalled later that after one strenuous number, she had to be carried to her dressing room because she had burst blood vessels in her feet. Cyd Charisse lucked into her small but star-making role in the film when O'Connor was not available for the climactic "Broadway Melody Ballet," providing an opening for a female dance partner for Kelly. Charisse had been hovering on the edge of stardom at MGM for some years. The unforgettable moment, when one of those long legs shot up with Kelly's hat balanced on her foot, turned the trick. Within a year Charisse was starring in her first musical lead in The Band Wagon (1953), opposite ideal partner Fred Astaire. Ironically, in view of the fact that many feel Singin' in the Rain is the greatest of all screen muscials, it won only one other Oscar nomination - for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture. It lost to Alfred Newman's score for With a Song in My Heart. Producer: Arthur Freed Director: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly Screenplay: Betty Comden, Adolph Green Art Direction: Randall Duell, Cedric Gibbons Cinematography: Harold Rosson Costume Design: Walter Plunkett Editing: Adrienne Fazan Original Music: Nacio Herb Brown, Lennie Hayton Lyrics: Arthur Freed Choreography: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen (uncredited) Cast: Gene Kelly (Don Lockwood), Donald O'Connor (Cosmo Brown), Debbie Reynolds (Kathy Selden), Jean Hagen (Lina Lamont), Millard Mitchell (R.F. Simpson), Cyd Charisse (Dancer), Douglas Fowley (Roscoe Dexter), Rita Moreno (Zelda Zanders). C-103m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video. by Roger Fristoe

Singin' in the Rain - The Double CD soundtrack release


Even most film music fans would have to admit that soundtrack albums are often a rather specialized interest when separated from their actual films. That's certainly not true of Singin' in the Rain (Rhino/TCM), now available in a wonderful two-CD package. These songs stand quite happily on their own just as much as anything from Kurt Weill or Gilbert and Sullivan (or Rossini if you want to get right down to it). The title track has yet to wear out its welcome but that's only the start. The inspired nonsense of "Moses," the grandly open-hearted "Make 'Em Laugh," the dreamy "Beautiful Girl" or the campy "Fit as a Fiddle (And Ready for Love)" are just some some of the unforgettable moments. (A personal favorite is the tango version of Bing Crosby's early hit "Temptation.") And though the sound isn't exactly high fidelity, it's more than servicable and probably the best this will ever get. The second disc includes a fascinating section where the songs are presented as they first appeared. "Singin' in the Rain" (peformed by Cliff Edwards, Ukelele Ike himself) is from The Hollywood Revue of 1929, "Beautiful Girl" from 1933's Stage Mother and "Good Morning" from Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney's 1939 Babes in Arms. (Though wouldn't you have given anything to hear Helen Kane--the voice of Betty Boop--running through "Moses supposes his toeses are roses"?) While certainly fascinating, these tracks have mostly been taken directly from film elements and weren't intended for release as records. So the original "Singin' in the Rain," for instance, has way too much tap dancing--interesting on screen perhaps but not a record--while other songs sound too abbreviated. Finishing off both discs are alternate takes, different vocals and instrumental versions of the various songs that again are primarily of interest to soundtrack fans. Everything else, though, is for all the world.

by Lang Thompson

Singin' in the Rain - The Double CD soundtrack release

Even most film music fans would have to admit that soundtrack albums are often a rather specialized interest when separated from their actual films. That's certainly not true of Singin' in the Rain (Rhino/TCM), now available in a wonderful two-CD package. These songs stand quite happily on their own just as much as anything from Kurt Weill or Gilbert and Sullivan (or Rossini if you want to get right down to it). The title track has yet to wear out its welcome but that's only the start. The inspired nonsense of "Moses," the grandly open-hearted "Make 'Em Laugh," the dreamy "Beautiful Girl" or the campy "Fit as a Fiddle (And Ready for Love)" are just some some of the unforgettable moments. (A personal favorite is the tango version of Bing Crosby's early hit "Temptation.") And though the sound isn't exactly high fidelity, it's more than servicable and probably the best this will ever get. The second disc includes a fascinating section where the songs are presented as they first appeared. "Singin' in the Rain" (peformed by Cliff Edwards, Ukelele Ike himself) is from The Hollywood Revue of 1929, "Beautiful Girl" from 1933's Stage Mother and "Good Morning" from Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney's 1939 Babes in Arms. (Though wouldn't you have given anything to hear Helen Kane--the voice of Betty Boop--running through "Moses supposes his toeses are roses"?) While certainly fascinating, these tracks have mostly been taken directly from film elements and weren't intended for release as records. So the original "Singin' in the Rain," for instance, has way too much tap dancing--interesting on screen perhaps but not a record--while other songs sound too abbreviated. Finishing off both discs are alternate takes, different vocals and instrumental versions of the various songs that again are primarily of interest to soundtrack fans. Everything else, though, is for all the world. by Lang Thompson

Donald O'Connor, 1925-2003


Donald O'Connor, the sprightly, acrobatic dancer-comedian who was unforgettable in his exhilarating "Make 'em Laugh" number in the classic musical Singin' in the Rain, died of heart failure at the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California on September 27. He was 78.

Born Donald David Dixon O' Connor in Chicago on August 28, 1925, he was raised in an atmosphere of show business. His parents were circus trapeze artists and later vaudeville entertainers, and as soon as young Donald was old enough to walk, he was performing in a variety of dance and stunt routines all across the country. Discovered by a film scout at age 11, he made his film debut with two of his brothers in Melody for Two (1937), and was singled out for a contract by Paramount Pictures. He co-starred with Bing Crosby and Fred MacMurray in Sing, You Sinners (1938) and played juvenile roles in several films, including Huckleberry Finn in Tom Sawyer - Detective (1938) and the title character as a child in Beau Geste (1939).

As O'Connor grew into adolescence, he fared pretty well as a youthful hoofer, dancing up a storm in a string of low-budget, but engaging musicals for Universal Studios (often teamed with the equally vigorous Peggy Ryan) during World War II. Titles like What's Cookin', Get Hep to Love (both 1942), Chip Off the Old Block and Strictly in the Groove (both 1943) made for some fairly innocuous entertainment, but they went a long way in displaying O'Connor's athletic dancing and boyish charm. As an adult, O'Connor struck paydirt again when he starred opposite a talking mule (with a voice supplied by Chill Wills) in the enormously popular Francis (1949). The story about an Army private who discovers that only he can communicate with a talking army mule, proved to be a very profitable hit with kids, and Universal went on to star him in several sequels.

Yet if O'Connor had to stake his claim to cinematic greatness, it would unquestionably be his daringly acrobatic, brazenly funny turn as Cosmo Brown, Gene Kelly's sidekick in the brilliant Singin' in the Rain (1952). Although his self-choreographed routine of "Make "Em Laugh" (which includes a mind-bending series of backflips off the walls) is often singled out as the highlight, in truth, his whole performance is one of the highlights of the film. His deft comic delivery of one-liners, crazy facial expressions (just watch him lampoon the diction teacher in the glorious "Moses Supposes" bit) and exhilarating dance moves (the opening "Fit As a Fiddle" number with Kelly to name just one) throughout the film are just sheer film treats in any critic's book.

After the success of Singin' in the Rain, O'Connor proved that he had enough charisma to command his first starring vehicle, opposite Debbie Reynolds, in the cute musical I Love Melvin (1953). He also found good parts in Call Me Madam (1953), There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), and Anything Goes (1956). Unfortunately, his one attempt at a strong dramatic role, the lead in the weak biopic The Buster Keaton Story (1957) proved to be misstep, and he was panned by the critics.

By the '60s, the popularity of musicals had faded, and O'Connor spent the next several years supporting himself with many dinner theater and nightclub appearances; but just when it looked like we wouldn't see O'Connor's talent shine again on the small or big screen, he found himself in demand at the dawn of the '90s in a string of TV appearances: Murder She Wrote, Tales From the Crypt, Fraser, The Nanny; and movies: Robin Williams' toy-manufacturer father in Toys (1992), a fellow passenger in the Lemmon-Matthau comedy, Out to Sea (1997), that were as welcoming as they were heartening. Survivors include his wife, Gloria; four children, Alicia, Donna, Fred and Kevin; and four grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole

Donald O'Connor, 1925-2003

Donald O'Connor, the sprightly, acrobatic dancer-comedian who was unforgettable in his exhilarating "Make 'em Laugh" number in the classic musical Singin' in the Rain, died of heart failure at the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California on September 27. He was 78. Born Donald David Dixon O' Connor in Chicago on August 28, 1925, he was raised in an atmosphere of show business. His parents were circus trapeze artists and later vaudeville entertainers, and as soon as young Donald was old enough to walk, he was performing in a variety of dance and stunt routines all across the country. Discovered by a film scout at age 11, he made his film debut with two of his brothers in Melody for Two (1937), and was singled out for a contract by Paramount Pictures. He co-starred with Bing Crosby and Fred MacMurray in Sing, You Sinners (1938) and played juvenile roles in several films, including Huckleberry Finn in Tom Sawyer - Detective (1938) and the title character as a child in Beau Geste (1939). As O'Connor grew into adolescence, he fared pretty well as a youthful hoofer, dancing up a storm in a string of low-budget, but engaging musicals for Universal Studios (often teamed with the equally vigorous Peggy Ryan) during World War II. Titles like What's Cookin', Get Hep to Love (both 1942), Chip Off the Old Block and Strictly in the Groove (both 1943) made for some fairly innocuous entertainment, but they went a long way in displaying O'Connor's athletic dancing and boyish charm. As an adult, O'Connor struck paydirt again when he starred opposite a talking mule (with a voice supplied by Chill Wills) in the enormously popular Francis (1949). The story about an Army private who discovers that only he can communicate with a talking army mule, proved to be a very profitable hit with kids, and Universal went on to star him in several sequels. Yet if O'Connor had to stake his claim to cinematic greatness, it would unquestionably be his daringly acrobatic, brazenly funny turn as Cosmo Brown, Gene Kelly's sidekick in the brilliant Singin' in the Rain (1952). Although his self-choreographed routine of "Make "Em Laugh" (which includes a mind-bending series of backflips off the walls) is often singled out as the highlight, in truth, his whole performance is one of the highlights of the film. His deft comic delivery of one-liners, crazy facial expressions (just watch him lampoon the diction teacher in the glorious "Moses Supposes" bit) and exhilarating dance moves (the opening "Fit As a Fiddle" number with Kelly to name just one) throughout the film are just sheer film treats in any critic's book. After the success of Singin' in the Rain, O'Connor proved that he had enough charisma to command his first starring vehicle, opposite Debbie Reynolds, in the cute musical I Love Melvin (1953). He also found good parts in Call Me Madam (1953), There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), and Anything Goes (1956). Unfortunately, his one attempt at a strong dramatic role, the lead in the weak biopic The Buster Keaton Story (1957) proved to be misstep, and he was panned by the critics. By the '60s, the popularity of musicals had faded, and O'Connor spent the next several years supporting himself with many dinner theater and nightclub appearances; but just when it looked like we wouldn't see O'Connor's talent shine again on the small or big screen, he found himself in demand at the dawn of the '90s in a string of TV appearances: Murder She Wrote, Tales From the Crypt, Fraser, The Nanny; and movies: Robin Williams' toy-manufacturer father in Toys (1992), a fellow passenger in the Lemmon-Matthau comedy, Out to Sea (1997), that were as welcoming as they were heartening. Survivors include his wife, Gloria; four children, Alicia, Donna, Fred and Kevin; and four grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

What's this one about?
- Cosmo Brown
It's a French revolution story...
- Don Lockwood
Let me guess. You're a French aristocrat, she's a simple girl of the people, and she won't even give you a tumbrel. Hah!
- Cosmo Brown
Oh Donny! You couldn't kiss me like that and not mean it just a teensy bit!
- Lina
Meet the greatest actor in the world! I'd rather kiss a tarantula.
- Don Lockwood
You don't mean that.
- Lina
I don't--- Hey Joe, get me a tarantula.
- Don Lockwood
Don, it'll be a sensation! "Lamont and Lockwood: they talk!"
- R.F. Simpson
Well of *course* talk. Don't everybody?
- Lina
What's wrong with the way I talk? What's the big idea? Am I dumb or something?
- Lina
Now listen, R.F., the owner of the Coconut Grove may do what Lina tells him to, but you're the head of this studio.
- Don Lockwood
That's right, I'm the head of this studio. She's hired! But don't let Lina know she's on the lot.
- R.F. Simpson

Trivia

The role of Cosmo was written with Oscar Levant in mind, but instead was immortalized by Donald' O'Connor

The script was written after the songs, and so it had to generate a plot into which the songs would fit.

Gene Kelly had a 103 degrees fever when he danced to the title song.

The rain consisted of water plus milk so the rain would show up better on film but it caused Kelly's wool suit to shrink.

While the film makes a central point of the idea that Kathy's voice is dubbed over Lina Lamont's, what is not told is that ironically, in some of these songs, notably "Would You", Debbie Reynolds, the actress who plays Selden, is actually dubbed over by Betty Noyes.

Notes

According to a February 5, 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item, Carleton Carpenter was to co-star in the film with Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, and a March 19, 1951 news item noted that the husband-and-wife dancing team of Marge and Gower Champion were to start rehearsals "at the end of the month;" however, neither Carpenter nor the Champions were mentioned in the files on the film in the Arthur Freed Collection or the M-G-M Collection at the USC Cinema-Television Library. M-G-M files reveal that Reginald Gardner was sought for a role and that Nina Foch and Barbara Lawrence were tested for "Lina Lamont." Donald O'Connor was borrowed from Universal for his first M-G-M picture. News items also include Gloria Gordon, daughter of producer Leon Gordon, Carmen Clifford, Frances Meehan and Frankie Grandetta in the cast, but their appearance has not been confirmed. As noted in news items and modern sources, actress Gwen Carter, who is seen briefly in the party sequence, was then O'Connor's wife. Dancer/choreographer Jeanne Coyne was briefly married to director Stanley Donen prior to the film's production and married Kelly in 1960. Coyne and Kelly remained married until her death in 1973.
       Of the film's numerous songs, only two were written especially for the film, "Make 'Em Laugh" which features O'Connor singing, dancing and doing comic acrobatic turns on a studio set, and "Moses" (also known as "Moses Supposes") in which Kelly and O'Connor sing and dance during a diction lesson. Other songs in the film were from the 1920s and 1930s, most of them previously featured in M-G-M musicals. The song "Singin' in the Rain" was first featured in the M-G-M musical Hollywood Revue of 1929, sung by Cliff "Ukele Ike" Edwards. The song is performed three times in the 1952 film, first in the opening credits, in which Kelly, O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds appear in yellow raincoats, carrying umbrellas; second, when Kelly sings and dances in a downpour; and finally, when "Lina," played by Jean Hagen, lipsyncs as Reynolds' "Kathy" sings at the premiere of The Dancing Cavalier.
       The rendition of the song by Kelly, which takes place in a heavy rainfall manufactured on the studio's back lot, is one of the most famous musical numbers of all time. It has been included in many documentaries on the history of motion picture musicals, including the 1974 M-G-M film That's Entertainment, in which Kelly spoke about how the number was filmed. According to Kelly, he had a bad cold and a fever while performing the number. Modern sources have added that the equivalent of two city blocks were used on the studio back lot and pumped with hundreds of gallons of water. The number took seven days to film, with the artificial rain needed for six hours each day. Dancer Gwen Verdon has stated that she and Kelly's dance assistants, Coyne and Carol Haney, dubbed the sound of Kelly's taps and made splashing noises when the film was in post-production.
       Other noteworthy numbers in the film include "Good Morning," in which Kelly, O'Connor and Reynolds sing and dance in "Don Lockwood's" Beverly Hills mansion; and the almost seventeen-minute "Broadway Ballet" in which Kelly sings and dances through a large number of sets and partners with Cyd Charisse as the femme fatale of the film-within-a-film. The sequence tells the story of a hoofer who comes to New York and becomes a success on Broadway but is rejected by a mysterious woman with whom he falls in love. The number marked the first of several times that Charisse and Kelly worked together. During Singin' in the Rain, when Cosmo describes his idea for reworking the seventeenth-century France setting of The Dueling Cavalier by adding a modern storyline, the plot he describes is very similar to the popular Cole Porter Broadway musical DuBarry Was a Lady, which was turned into a 1943 M-G-M film starring Red Skelton, Lucille Ball and Gene Kelly (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). The "Broadway Ballet" includes the well-known Kelly tagline, "Gotta Sing-Gotta Dance." According to information in the M-G-M files, the final cost of that musical sequence was $605,960, $85,000 over budget, with the final cost of the entire film $2,540,800, $620,996 over budget.
       Several additional old songs are heard briefly in the film, including "Should I," "I've Got a Feelin' You're Foolin'" and "Temptation." According to M-G-M files, two numbers were cut from the film, a solo of "You Are My Lucky Star," sung by Reynolds and included in the film's special edition LaserDisk, and a long solo by Kelly singing "All I Do Is Dream of You," which, according to information in the M-G-M collection, was cut after the film's preview. Another number, featuring Kelly and O'Connor dancing to "The Wedding of the Painted Doll," was planned but not shot. That song is heard briefly in the film, however. According to co-director Stanley Donen's autobiography, Rita Moreno's character, "Zelda Zanders," was to sing "Make Hay While the Sun Shines," but that, and most of Moreno's role, was not in the released film. Donen also indicated that the originally conceived ending included a premiere for Lina's newest film, Jungle Princess in which she "doesn't say a word-just grunts," and Lina and Cosmo's marriage.
       Many of the characters within the film's storyline were patterned after real people. "Dora Bailey" was loosely modeled on Hollywood gossip columnist Louella Parsons; director "Roscoe Dexter" was modeled after musical director Busby Berkeley and, according to modern sources, "R. F. Simpson" was modeled after producer Arthur Freed, although Freed was unaware of it. According to memos in the M-G-M files, Jimmie Thompson, who sang the "Beautiful Girl" number, was to be modeled after popular 1920s crooner Rudy Vallee, but Vallee was imitated in a brief montage just before the number. Charisse, who had no dialogue in the Broadway Ballet sequence, had hair and makeup reminiscent of the screen persona of 1920s film star Louise Brooks.
       Books and feature articles on the film have noted that several of the film's sets were previously used in some of M-G-Ms films of the 1920s and 1930s, including the Greta Garbo-John Gilbert picture Flesh and the Devil, which provided the setting for Don's mansion. Costumes and wigs in The Dueling Cavalier were from M-G-M's 1938 picture Marie Antoinette. (See AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40.)
       According to information in the M-G-M files, because Reynolds' voice did not work well for the scene in which her character, "Kathy," dubs the speaking and singing voice for Hagen's Lina Lamont in The Dancing Cavalier, Hagen's own voice was used to dub for Reynolds. Hagen was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role, and Lennie Hayton was nominated for Best Scoring of a musical picture. The film was named one of the top ten pictures of 1952 by the National Board of Review; Donald O'Connor received a Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, and Betty Comden and Adolph Green won the Writers Guild Award for Best Written American Musical.
       In modern interviews, Comden and Green have stated that the film was proposed to them by Freed, head of M-G-M's musical division. According to Comden and Green, Freed, who was one of the songwriters of the 1929 song "Singin' in the Rain," proposed that they write a musical film based on the song. The pair then spent several weeks trying to come up with an idea and hit upon a storyline that was, as they explained, funny, but also a reflection of the sadness that accompanied the film industry's transition to sound. Modern sources offer variations on the film's origins; some state that the production was devised as a way to keep Freed's production unit happy and maintain the momentum started on An American in Paris, which was still in production when pre-production began on Singin' in the Rain. Contemporary news items and production information indicate that Singin' in the Rain was being developed prior to the start of production on An American in Paris, however. Singin' in the Rain was mentioned as being on Freed's slate in a Hollywood Reporter news item on May 15, 1949. Information in the Freed Collection also reveals that he received $25,000 for all musical materials for the film on August 29, 1950. In his autobiography, Donen mentioned that the basic story idea for the picture was developed in 1948 under the title Excess Baggage and intended as a starring vehicle for dancer Ann Miller.
       Singin' in the Rain has often been cited in modern surveys and documentaries as one of the most popular films of all time. Among its many accolades, in 2007, Singin' in the Rain was ranked 5th on AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies-10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films, moving up from the 10th position it occupied on AFI's 1997 list. The film was re-issued in 1974 and again in 1992 with a fortieth anniversary premiere. It was also selected as one of the first American films presented in Communist China. A stage production of Singin' in the Rain opened in London in 1983, starring and directed by Tommy Steele and produced by Harold Fielding. The stage production closely followed the film, including the same songs. The play also recreated Kelly's "Singin' in the Rain" number.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Spring April 1, 1952

Released in United States April 10, 1952

Re-released in United States February 21, 1992

Released in United States March 1977

Released in United States May 26, 1990

Released in United States 1995

Released in United States 1997

Shown at Seattle International Film Festival May 26, 1990.

Shown at San Francisco International Film Festival April 20 - May 4, 1995.

Selected in 1998 as one of the AFI's list of 100 Greatest American Films of the century.

Selected in 1989 for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.

Re-released in United Kingdom November 25, 2000.

Released in United States April 1952

Released in United States Spring April 1, 1952

Released in United States April 10, 1952 (New York City)

Re-released in United States February 21, 1992 (Los Angeles)

Released in United States April 1952

Released in United States March 1977 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The Mighty Musical Movie Marathon) March 9-27, 1977.)

Released in United States May 26, 1990 (Shown at Seattle International Film Festival May 26, 1990.)

Released in United States 1995 (Shown at San Francisco International Film Festival April 20 - May 4, 1995.)

Released in United States 1997 (Shown in Los Angeles (Laemmle) as part of program "Makes Great Musicals: A Salute to MGM's Legendary Freed Unit" September 6 - December 21, 1997.)