Singin' in the Rain (1952) - Illustrated Reference

Singin’ in the Rain was directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, it premiered on the 27th March 1952. Starring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen and Millard Mitchell. Screenplay by Adolph Green & Betty Comden. Music by Lennie Hayton. 103 mins.

The 1920s and Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are two of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Warner Bros release The Jazz Singer, the first talkie and it’s an instant success, suddenly all the studios are rewiring their sets for sound. Lockwood and Lamont’s latest film The Dueling Cavalier is to be converted to sound and turned into a musical. But Monumental Pictures has a big problem, Lina Lamont’s voice.

Arthur Freed, head of MGM’s musical department asked screenwriters and lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green to come up with a story based on the popular song “Singin’ in the Rain”. They came up with a storyline about the film industry’s transition to sound and turned it into a comedy musical.

Don Lockwood: Now Lina, you've been reading all those fan magazines again! Now look you shouldn't believe all that banana oil Dora Bailey and the columnists dish out. Try to get this straight: there is nothing between us. There has never been anything between us. Just air.
Lina Lamont: Oh, Donny, you don't mean that.

Gene Kelly (1912-1996) / Don Lockwood

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gene Kelly was Oscar nominated Best Actor for Anchors Aweigh (1945), he received an Honorary Oscar in 1952 “In appreciation of his versatility as an actor, singer, director and dancer, and specifically for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film.”

Kelly’s films include – Cover Girl (1944), The Pirate (1948), The Three Musketeers (1948), On the Town (1949), Summer Stock (1950), An American in Paris (1951), Brigadoon (1954), It’s Always Fair Weather (1955), Invitation to the Dance (1956) and Inherit the Wind (1960).

Don Lockwood: Ladies and gentlemen, stop that girl, that girl running up the aisle. Stop her! That's the girl whose voice you heard and loved tonight. She's the real star of the picture. Kathy Selden!

Debbie Reynolds (1932-) / Kathy Selden

Born in El Paso, Texas, Debbie Reynolds was Oscar Nominated Best Actress for The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), her films include – Hit the Deck (1955), The Tender Trap (1955), The Mating Game (1959), The Rat Race (1960), How the West Was Won (1962) and Divorce American Style (1967).

Donald O’Connor (1925-2003) / Cosmo Brown

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Donald O’Connor won a Golden Globe Best Actor in a Musical / Comedy for Singin’ in the Rain. His films include – Francis (1950), Call Me Madam (1953), There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954), Anything Goes (1956) and The Buster Keaton Story (1957).

Lina Lamont: What's wrong with the way I talk? What's the big idea? Am I dumb or something?

Jean Hagen (1923-1977) / Lina Lamont

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Jean Hagen was Oscar Nominated Best Supporting Actress for Singin’ in the Rain. Her films include – The Asphalt Jungle (1950), Carbine Williams (1952), The Big Knife (1955), The Shaggy Dog (1959) and Panic in Year Zero (1962).

Millard Mitchell (1903-1953) / R.F.Simpson

Born in Havana, Cuba, Millard Mitchell won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for My Six Convicts (1952). His films include – Kiss of Death (1947), A Double Life (1947), Twelve O’Clock High (1949), The Gunfighter (1950), Winchester 73 (1950) and The Naked Spur (1953).

Cyd Charisse (1921-2008) / Dancer

Born in Amarillo, Texas, Cyd Charisse was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress Musical / Comedy for Silk Stockings (1958). Her films include – The Harvey Girls (1946), The Band Wagon (1953), Brigadoon (1954), It’s Always Fair Weather (1955), Meet Me in Las Vegas, Party Girl (1958) and Two Weeks in Another Town (1962).

Roscoe: Lina! We're missing every other word! You've got to talk into the mike!
Lina: [pointing] Well, I can't make love to a bush!

Douglas Fowley (1911-1998) / Roscoe Dexter

Born in The Bronx, New York, Douglas Fowley was a prolific supporting actor appearing in over 200 movies, they include – The Thin Man (1934), Dodge City (1939), Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949), Mighty Joe Young (1949), Battleground (1949), The Band Wagon (1953) and The High and the Mighty (1954).

Let the stormy clouds chase, everyone from the place. Come on with the rain, I've a smile on my face. I walk down the lane, with a happy refrain, just singin', singin' in the rain

Gene Kelly dancing and singing in the rain is the most famous scene in the film, and arguably the greatest musical sequence in movie history. The rain was a mixture of water and milk so it would show up better on film.The number took a couple of days to film and Kelly ended up with a bad cold and fever.

The song “Singin’ in the Rain” was first heard on film in the MGM musical Hollywood Revue of 1929 and sung by Cliff Edwards. Jimmy Durante sang the song in Speak Easily (1932) and Judy Garland sang it in Little Nellie Kelly (1940).

Most infamously the song is sung by Alex (Malcolm McDowell) while raping a woman in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971), Gene Kelly’s rendition of the song is played over the credits.

In an early script draft the title number was to have been sung by Kelly, Reynolds and O’ Connor as they left the theatre following the disastrous showing of The Dueling Cavalier.

Hello! This is a demonstration of a talking picture. Notice, it is a picture of me and I am talking. Note how my lips and the sound issuing from them are synchronized together in perfect unison.

Howard Keel was at one time considered for the role of Don Lockwood, Jane Powell for the role of Kathy Selden, Carleton Carpenter for the role of Cosmo Brown and Judy Holliday for Lina Lamont. It might have been a different film entirely.

Phoebe Dinsmore: No, no, no Miss Lamont, Round tones, round tones. Now, let me hear you read your line.
Lina Lamont: And I cean't stand'im.
Phoebe Dinsmore: And I can't stand him.
Lina Lamont: And I cean't stand'im.
Phoebe Dinsmore: Can't.
Lina Lamont: Cean't.
Phoebe Dinsmore: Caaaaan't
Lina Lamont: Ceeeaan't

Who dubbed who? This can get confusing, in the film Lina Lamont’s voice was screechy and had to be dubbed for ‘talking pictures’. In reality the actress playing Lina, Jean Hagen, had a nice normal voice.

In the scenes where Lina’s voice is being dubbed by Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) it is actually Hagen’s real voice that is being heard. Hagen dubbing Kathy dubbing Lina.

And to make things even more confusing when Kathy is dubbing Lina singing “Would you?” Debbie Reynolds voice was dubbed by singer Betty Noyes who had a richer singing voice than Reynolds. Noyes dubbing Kathy dubbing Lina.

Gene Kelly was a perfectionist on set and he terrified his co-stars, 19 year old Debbie Reynolds ran off set crying when he insulted her for not learning how to dance and in the first few weeks of filming Donald O’Connor was frightened in case he made a mistake and was yelled at by Kelly.

Diction coach: Moses supposes his toeses are roses, but Moses supposes erroneously, and Moses, he knowses his toeses aren't roses, as Moses supposes his toeses to be

Only two songs were written especially for the film “Make ‘Em Laugh” and “Moses Supposes”, the other songs were a collection of MGM standards from the 20’s and 30’s.

Make ‘Em Laugh sung by Donald O’ Connor is one of the highlights of the film, the song is practically a remake of Cole Porter’s “Be a Clown” from the Gene Kelly, Judy Garland musical The Pirate (1948). Cole Porter didn’t complain.

Donald O’ Connor worked in an acrobatic routine he used as a dancer in his youth for the song "Make 'Em Laugh", where he would run up a wall and somersault backwards. O’Connor practiced the number over and over it was so physically taxing he suffered from exhaustion, and carpet burns too.

The song “Good Morning” sung and danced by Gene Kelly, Donald O’ Connor and Debbie Reynolds was first sung on film by Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in Babes in Arms (1939).

Don Lockwood: Gotta dance! Gotta Dance! Broadway Rhythm, it's got me, everybody dance!

The 12 minute Broadway Melody Ballet cost $605,960 according to MGM record files of the time.

Cyd Charisse made such an impression on the MGM producers as the dancing Vamp in the Broadway Melody sequence that they gave her a starring role in the Fred Astaire musical The Band Wagon (1953).

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

Singin’ in the Rain was ranked #5 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest Movies List of 2007, it ranked #16 in AFI’s 100 funniest films list,

Gene Kelly singing the title song ranked #3 on AFI’s 100 Greatest Movie Songs list “Make Em Laugh” at #49 and “Good Morning” at #72.

Singin' in the Rain ranked #1 on the AFI’s 25 Greatest Musicals list, with West Side Story (1961) #2 and The Wizard of Oz (1939) #3.

The film cost $2.5m to make and was a success grossing $7.2m in its initial release.

Singin’ in the Rain was nominated for two Oscars – Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Jean Hagen) and Best Music (Lennie Hayton). The film was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards – Best Motion Picture Musical / Comedy and winning for Best Actor Musical / Comedy (Donald O’ Connor)

It was among the films chosen for preservation for the National Film Registry in 1989.

60 years old and Singin’ in the Rain still tops lists of favourite movie musicals. I’ve watched and enjoyed many musicals over the decades, Singin’ in the Rain remains my favourite. Thank you for reading.

Lina Lamont: If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, it makes us feel as though our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'. Bless you all.

The Critics Wrote -

“I've made a lot of films that were bigger hits and made a lot more money, but now they look dated. This one, out of all my pictures, has a chance to last.” (Gene Kelly, 1977)

"You are left feeling that nothing could be more cheering than rain... Nearly as good as Kelly's masterpiece, On the Town." (The Times)

"Probably my favorite musical. When it came out it wasn't particularly well reviewed. People thought, ho hum, another Metro musical, but this isn't only a musical, it's one of the finest films about Hollywood." (William Goldman, 1984)

"Its plot, if that's what you'd call it, concerns a silent film star who is linked with a slut-voiced leading lady while wooing a thrushy new young thing. If anyone can tell us what all of the nonsense that goes on has to do with the title of the picture, we will buy him a new spring hat.

But that doesn't make any difference, for the nonsense is generally good and at times it reaches the level of first-class satiric burlesque." (Bosley Crowther, New York Times)

"Brilliant movie musical, the best picture by far of Hollywood in transition, with the catchiest tunes, the liveliest choreography, the most engaging performances and the most hilarious jokes of any musical." (Leslie Halliwell)

"The greatest musical ever made... also one of the few musicals where the screenplay... is as entertaining as the numbers themselves. A masterpiece, no question about it." (NFT Bulletin, 1975)

"The movie's climax, as Debbie Reynolds flees from the theater while Gene Kelly shouts out "Stop that girl!" and tells everyone who she is, and that he loves her, is one of those bravura romantic scenes that make you tingle no matter how often you see it. But is this really the greatest Hollywood musical ever made? In a word, yes." (Roger Ebert)

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22 comments

LoriSoard profile image

LoriSoard 4 years ago from Henryville, Indiana

"I can't stand 'im."

I love this move so very much. Great hub.


Breen Bergstrome 4 years ago

Fantastic...fantastic!!

This brings the movie back to life for me, and I can almost experience it again through your comprehensive and truly entertaining hub.

The photos you've chosen bring highlights in focus so it's a fun rerun of memories.

This was a great movie and one I've seen many times..I can't imagine how many times Flora has watched it:-)

Thanks for a wonderful illustrated reference hub.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

Great Illustrated Reference on a great tribute to Gene Kelly and Singin in the Rain. Many people considered this to be the greatest musical ever produced.

As always awesome pictures and lots of great information on this classic movie. Way past my bedtime, I will have to finish this comment tomorrow....voted up and useful.


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

Okay now I have been unable to get internet access for the last 10 hours so I am only seeing this at 1:30 in the morning.No fair the timing.

(So Mom gets to comment first but does not mention I am offline and that is why I haven't said anything yet. Maybe mom didn't realize at the time my net was done as well as my digital cable? Two different providers by the way...meanwhile mom on the opposite side of the hospital is fine...sigh)

I *must* go to bed. But I want to let let you know that I have in fact seen this hub. This is my favourite musical of all time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Lori, Breen, Bruce, Flora, thank you all for commenting on my musical hub, it is most appreciated.

I've done sci-fi, horror, Hitchcock, western, war and historical film hubs, time to pick a musical and well this was my favourite...

When I was young I hated musicals, I wanted them to stop singing and prancing around and get on with the story but there was one musical I loved every minute of and it was Singin in the Rain.

Over the years I became a huge fan of Hollywood musicals and I've collected many of them on DVD. But this film still tops them all for me.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

I have to admit that I have not seen many of Gene Kelly's films. I think my total is three....An American in Paris, Anchors Aweigh, and Xanadu. So that means I am missing probably his greatest film. I am sure whenever I do my Gene Kelly hub that will motivate me to watch more of his career.

Reading your synopsis of the movie reminded me of the new film The Artist. A dancing movie set in the late 1920s, a silent star is worried about making it in the "talkies"....I am sure the French director of The Artist was influenced by Singin in the Rain.

Glad to see one of the main members of the cast is still going strong...Debbie Reynolds. Nice photos of Cyd Charisse with her very beautiful legs. No wonder you like her so much. Reading your reviews makes me want to track down this movie today....and then I checked IMDB and see it was ranked as the 86th best movie of all-movies. I guess if it is cool enough for Droogs then I need to check out this movie...thanks for such a detailed hub....very impressive that is voted up across the board.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thank you Bruce, appreciate the kind words and votes.

It's amazing how you've never seen this film, I suspect you weren't a fan of Hollywood musicals in your youth and never did warm to them? But you must have seen clips of Gene singing and dancing in the rain? It always gets shown in tributes and movie documentaries.

Cyd Charisse had lovely long legs and was a great dancer, and she was pretty too. Not a great actress but she was sexy as Ninotchka in Silk Stockings.

A bit about aspect ratios, if you notice the screenshots are almost square, the film came out in 1952 the aspect ratio for a movie then was 1.37 (1.0 being a perfect square) which was the standard for decades before. In 1953 two new aspect ratios appeared - 1.85 which was a rectangle and became the standard and still used today for movies and TV, the other aspect ratio was widescreen 2.35 introduced by 20th Century Fox in their first Cinemascope film - The Robe. Some epics were filmed in an even wider ratio 2.75, such as Ben-Hur and Mutiny and the Bounty. But 2.35 and 1.85 are the ones most common today.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

Hey Steve...music was not a huge part of my childhood...war movies yes...but not musicals. So when I got older I tended to stay away from musicals. That being said I enjoyed the Fred Astaire movies I watched a few months ago....so I am sure I will enjoy the Gene Kelly ones as well.

Interesting information on the aspect ratios....I have become so used to 1.85 that 1.37 looks like it is missing something. Talking about classic movies...I just rented a Blu-Ray version of Rio Bravo....not impressed with the quality at all. I guess it was not epic enough of a movie to warrant a time consuming update.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Yeah Rio Bravo didn't get the best treatment on blu-ray but it was still an improvement over the dvd. The Searchers looked a lot better on blu-ray. It's pretty much hit and miss on blu-ray, many people will notice very little difference on older films.

I think you'll enjoy Singin in the Rain because it's quite funny and has an interesting story too. Many people back then thought talking pictures was a distracting gimmick that won't last or that it was vulgar, you know its bad enough we have to look at their faces do we have to hear them talk too, eeewww! :)


Breen Bergstrome 4 years ago

I know Flora has acquired a lot of background history on this movie in particular...."Good Morning" song, scenes with Lina Lamont..such a rich and over-the-top fantastic musical..next favourite I think is Oklahoma...

Bruce, be prepared to change your opinion of musicals...

tonight when the kids are in bed and you can lose yourself in a funny and a truly inspiring musical.

Some of the more demanding dance performances appear in this movie..


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

I have quite a bit of the sheet music for this movie. Certainly, Bruce, if you do not like this movie, you don't like movie musicals, period. Let me put it to you this way? It is one thing to not care for a 2-star film, but if you do not like a 5-star film, you hate the genre. Therefore, when you do see this film, that will give you a proper answer.

My favourite scene in the film is where lina and Don's new movie goes out of sync at the screening and she is saying "No, No, No!" while the villain nods and he says "Yes, Yes, Yes, while she is shaking her head.

And then there is the problem with the microphone being sewn into lina's dress in such a way that it picks up her heartbeat, etc.

Well, actually I love every scene.

Musical numbers with lyrics:

Title song, of course

All I Do Is Dream Of You (I have sung this)

You are My lucky Star (I've sung this too)

The dream sequence is great.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

No no no... yes yes yes! Round tones round tones... and I can't stand him! Ceeeant! Can't!

I'm busy finishing off another Hitchcock movie hub right now, I'll post it tomorrow.

Flora, Breen thanks for the comments.


thatmovieguy71 4 years ago

Wow! What a great hub - thorough and very informative! Singin' in the Rain is a fantastic movie. Donald O'Connor is brilliant with Make 'Em Laugh. Jean Hagen was very worthy of her Oscar nomination - she is just hilarious. Well done!


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks thatmovieguy71, appreciate that. Jean Hagen was great in this, she deserved her nomination. I've seen her in other films and she was completely normal. :)


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

I've been trying hard to pick out my favourite photographs you include, and I have to say I have failed totally in this endevour. I love them all. the colour, the clearness, the meaning of what was happening- I can't do it.

In regards to the posters you include, that is a little easier. I prefer the first overall, with the three leads with umbrellas for the 2000 re-release in second.


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

The actors:

I am a fan of these people no matter what they did:

Gene Kelly

Donald O'Conner

Debbie Reynolds

Cyd Charisse

I have seen a large number of the films of these actors:

Jean Hagen

Millard Mitchell

Douglas Fowley

Behind the scenes I am a fan of:

Gene Kelly

Stanley Donen

Green and Comden music


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Oh you're definitely a fan Flora, the only thing you haven't mentioned is favourite song. :)

The screenshots came out unusually well, very sharp and vivid, considering the age of the film. They did a great job remastering the film for DVD. You don't get colour like that in films anymore, three strip Technicolor, it practically glowed.

Flora, thanks for commenting and sharing.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

Hi Steve; Theres been a lot of talk recently about "Singing in the Rain" due to "the Artist" covering similar subject matter. This is one of the great classic musicals. I was one of the few kids growing up in Brooklyn who actually liked old movie musicals. (Admitting it would get me beaten up.) I used to watch them with my dad. This was his favorite.

O'Conner's off-the-wall flip in "make em laugh" has been copied and parodied many times, including "the Full Monty" and an episode of "Mystery Science Theater:3000".

I didn't realize until recently that Rita Moreno was in this. I think it was her first film.

Great pictures. Fun hub.

Rob


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Hi Rob, yep you can see Rita Moreno right at the start of the film, she plays Zelda Zanders "Zelda! oh Zelda!" a fan screams.

Thanks for commenting.


Mary Jane Thomas 4 years ago

This is one of my favourite movies of all time.

Not only does it capture the glitz and glamour (talk about being an aesthetically pleasing picture!) of the period, but it is also a timeless love story!

It is great to see that such a classic movie has left a legacy behind - like you said Rob - the Artist seems to have been influenced by Singin' in the Rain.

Not to mention the revival of the musical on London's West End.

Has anyone seen the show on the west end?

http://london.myvillage.com/article/upcoming-shows...

They get through so much water each night and sitting in the splash zone is so much fun. It really feel slike you are in the show!

After watching the movie/ seeing the show, it is enough to make anyone want to grab an umbrella and take to the streets for a good old song and dance!


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks for commenting Mary Jane Thomas. I haven't seen the west end show but I've seen the movie many times. Watching this always cheers me up when I'm feeling down.


Mary Jane Thomas 4 years ago

I agree! A definite feel good movie :)

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