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Singin' in the Rain (1952) Poster

Trivia

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For the "Make Em Laugh" number, Gene Kelly asked Donald 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 smoked four packs of cigarettes a day at the time, went to bed (or may have been hospitalized, depending on the source) 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.
Only 19 when cast to play the film, Debbie Reynolds lived with her parents and commuted to the set. She had to wake up at 4:00 a.m. and ride three different buses to the studio; sometimes, to avoid the commute, she would just sleep on the set.
Gene Kelly insulted Debbie Reynolds for not being able to dance. Fred Astaire, who was hanging around the studio, found her crying under a piano and helped her with her dancing.
After they finished the "Good Morning" number, Debbie Reynolds had to be carried to her dressing room because she had burst some blood vessels in her feet. Despite her hard work on the "Good Morning" number, Gene 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.
The script was written after the songs, and so the writers had to generate a plot into which the songs would fit.
A microphone was hidden in Debbie Reynolds' blouse so her lines could be heard more clearly. During one of the dance numbers, her heartbeat can be heard, mirroring what happens to Lina Lamont in the movie itself.
In the "Would You" number, Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) is dubbing the voice of Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) because Lina's voice is shrill and screechy. However, it's not Reynolds who is really speaking, it's Jean Hagen herself, who actually had a beautiful deep, rich voice. So you have Jean Hagen dubbing Debbie Reynolds dubbing Jean Hagen. And when Debbie is supposedly dubbing Jean's singing of "Would You", the voice you hear singing actually belongs to Betty Noyes, who had a much richer singing voice than Debbie.
The "Singing in the Rain" number took all day to set up --and Gene Kelly was very ill (some say with a fever over 101). When it was all set up, Kelly insisted on doing a take - even though the blocking was only rudimentary (starting and ending positions only), and the director was ready to send him home. He ad-libbed most of it and it only took one take - which is what you see on film.
The original negative of this film was destroyed in a fire.
Debbie Reynolds remarked many years later that making this movie and surviving childbirth were the two hardest things she's ever had to do.
Donald O'Connor admitted that he did not enjoy working with Gene Kelly, since Kelly was somewhat of a tyrant. O'Connor said that for the first several weeks he was terrified of making a mistake and being yelled at by Kelly.
Filming of the Cyd Charisse dance number had to be stopped for several hours after it was discovered that her pubic hair was visible through her costume. When the problem was finally fixed, the film's costume designer Walter Plunkett said, "It's OK, guys, we've finally got Cyd's crotch licked."
The movie begins with the premiere of Don Lockwood's latest picture 'The Royal Rascal', a silent black-and-white adventure film. The footage shown from 'The Royal Rascal' is actually from a film MGM released in 1948 called The Three Musketeers (1948), starring 'Gene Kelly' - which is in color and has sound. For 'Singin' in the Rain', both color and sound were taken out of the footage and title cards were added. The other change was adding shots of Jean Hagen (who played diva Lina Lamont) in place of 'The Three Musketeers' leading lady, Lana Turner. If you look closely, it is Lana -not Jean- opening the door when the spear hits it. The ending of 'The Royal Rascal' was shot on the same set used for 'The Three Musketeers'.
The screenwriters bought a house in Hollywood from a former silent film star who lost his wealth when the innovation of sound film killed his career. This was part of the inspiration for the film.
Although uncredited, Gene Kelly had two incredibly talented choreography assistants. These ladies were none other than Carol Haney (The Pajama Game (1957)) and Gwen Verdon (Broadway star of "Can-Can", "New Girl In Town", "Damn Yankees", "Redhead", "Sweet Charity" and "Chicago"). In fact, Kelly's taps during the "Singin' In The Rain" number were post-dubbed by Verdon and Haney. The ladies had to stand ankle-deep in a drum full of water to match the soggy on-screen action. Gene Kelly had also recommended Carol Haney for the role of Kathy Selden.
Like Lina Lamont, when sound films arrived, many silent screen actors lost their careers because their voices didn't match their screen personas. The most famous example is silent star John Gilbert. However, it wasn't the sound of his voice that killed his career; it was the rumored behind-the-scenes backstabbing (speeding up of his voice by sound technicians, on direct orders from someone with an agenda) and the ridiculously florid lines he had to say. The lines that Gene Kelly's character speaks in "The Dueling Cavalier" are based on the types of lines that killed John Gilbert's career. Gilbert's actual lines as a mock Romeo in the "William Shakespeare Scene" in The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929) is an example of this.
Studio technicians had to cover two outdoor city blocks on the backlot with tarp to make them dark for a night scene, and then equipped them with overhead sprays for Gene Kelly to perform the title number. Their efforts are all the more remarkable since there was a severe water shortage in Culver City the day the sequence was shot.
This was the sixth time the song "Singin' in the Rain" was used on the big screen. It was introduced in The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929) when it was sung by the MGM roster in front of a Noah's Ark backdrop. A clip from that footage was later used in Babes in Arms (1939). Jimmy Durante sang it briefly in Speak Easily (1932). Durante was the first to add the often used "Doo Doo Doo Doo " and "Ya Da Da Da". Judy Garland sang it in Little Nellie Kelly (1940). The song was also featured as an elaborate musical sequence performed by William Bendix and cast in The Babe Ruth Story (1948).
In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #5 Greatest Movie of All Time.
Just as Gene 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 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).
The film 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 its investment when the film returned a $7.7-million profit upon its initial release.
Only two songs were written especially for the film: "Moses Supposes" was written by Roger Edens, Betty Comden and Adolph Green; "Make Em Laugh" was written by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown especially for Donald O'Connor. It's generally agreed that they borrowed the melody almost exactly from Cole Porter's "Be a Clown". Irving Berlin was visiting the set one day when he heard a playback of "Make 'Em Laugh". When Berlin asked whose song that was, Freed quickly changed the subject.
The Broadway ballet sequence was to feature Kelly and O'Connor but the latter had to leave because of a TV commitment. Cyd Charisse was tabbed to replace him. she was made up to look like Louise Brooks and had to diet off the extra pounds she had just gained during her recent pregnancy. Charisse had to adjust her dancing style to mesh with Kelly's, which was very different.
Costume designer Walter Plunkett had worked in films since 1929, and some of his recollections were the source for gags about the perils of early sound shooting. Jean Hagen loudly "tapping" Gene Kelly with her fan in "The Dueling Cavalier" is based on a similar incident with Bebe Daniels and John Boles in Rio Rita (1929).
The jalopy driven by Debbie Reynolds was the same one driven by Mickey Rooney in the Andy Hardy pictures.
Working days sometimes stretched to 19 hours.
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" and "You Are My Lucky Star" - Debbie Reynolds, the actress who plays Kathy, is actually dubbed by Betty Noyes. However, Reynolds' own singing voice can be heard on the outtake footage of "Lucky Star" as performed next to the giant billboard of Gene Kelly.
After finishing filming the "Make 'em Laugh' dance sequence, Donald O'Connor found the effort so taxing that he went to bed for three days.
Most of the characters are based on actual people: -R.F. Simpson, the studio head, is obviously a parody on Louis B. Mayer, with touches of Arthur Freed -Dora Bailey is an obvious cariacature of Louella Parsons -Zelda Zanders, the "Zip Girl" is based on Clara Bow, the "It Girl" -Roscoe Dexter, the director is based on eccentric director Erich von Stroheim -Olga, the vamp at the premiere, is based on Pola Negri and Gloria Swanson, both of whom landed royalty as husbands.
When deciding to give Donald O'Connor a song, it was originally to be "The Wedding of the Painted Doll". However, since O'Connor had a bag of tricks he used in vaudeville, a song was substituted to use O'Connor's comical background: "Make 'Em Laugh" (of which the melody is remarkably similar to "Be A Clown" from The Pirate (1948)).
Very early on in the pre-production stage, Judy Garland, June Allyson, and Ann Miller were considered for the role of Kathy Selden, but all were considered "too old". Jane Powell and Leslie Caron were also briefly considered before Debbie Reynolds (then a newcomer) was cast.
Before this film, dancer Cyd Charisse had only been in films as a 'dance specialty' or as a co-co star since 1944. Her torrid performance as the Louise Brooks-like vamp in the "Broadway Melody" fantasy number was so successful that it gave MGM the impetus to finally star her in pictures. Her next film was The Band Wagon (1953), starring Fred Astaire.
Cyd Charisse had to be taught how to smoke for her vampy dance sequence.
In an early version of the script, the musical number "Singin' in the Rain" was to be sung by Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor and Gene Kelly on the way back from the flop of a talkie movie. Also, the song "You Were Meant For Me" was not included in that draft. Instead, the love song was supposed to be Gene Kelly's version of "All I Do Is Dream Of You," which would take place after the party at R.F. Simpson's house, when Kelly chases after Reynolds. The song would have ended up at Kelly's house. The footage of this scene has been lost, but the prerecording is featured on the soundtrack from Rhino. Remaining in the release print is the party sequence where Debbie Reynolds and chorus sing and dance a Charleston to "All I Do Is Dream of You."
This film was well received by theatergoers but recalled from Lowe's Theaters by the Spring of 1952, as to not compete with the reissue of An American in Paris (1951) which also starred Gene Kelly. It was commonplace, at that time, for a film to have a second run after winning an Academy Award, as it did for Best Picture.
John Alton was initially hired as cinematographer after impressing Gene Kelly with his lensing of the ballet sequence in An American in Paris (1951), but was fired over the objections of Kelly and Stanley Donen due to what Donen later described as "political reasons."
The role of the ditzy movie diva Lina Lamont was written with Judy Holliday in mind. Holliday was a close friend of Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and they 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. Timing was everything, however, 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. Additionally, both Holiday and Hagen had also worked together in Adam's Rib (1949) both in supporting, but key roles.Jean Hagen played a woman involved with Judy's husband. in that classic Tracy-Hepburn courtroom farce. Jean's speech in that film was similar in "pitch' to what she later exhibited as the ditzy Lina Lamont .
The film's network television premiere, scheduled for 23 November 1963 on NBC, had to be postponed by two weeks due to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and its aftermath.
Originally, Kathy was to sing "You Are My Lucky Star" to a billboard of Don Lockwood after he sang to her in the studio, by way of dramatizing that she was the president of the Don Lockwood Fan Club. The number, sung by Debbie Reynolds and chorus, is restored as an extra on the DVD issued by Warner Home Video. The prerecording can be heard on Rhino's soundtrack CD. Closing the movie is the "billboard duet" of this song by Miss Reynolds and Gene Kelly with a chorus.
In the first draft, Rita Moreno as Zelda Zanders was to sing "I Got A Feeling You're Fooling", but after script revisions the song was used in the montage before the number, "Beautiful Girl", along with "The Wedding Of The Painted Doll" and "Should I".
Like the character of Cosmo Brown, producer Arthur Freed was once employed as a mood-music pianist who played on movie sets during the silent film era.
The initials of the fictional Monumental Pictures' owner, R.F. Simpson, are a reference to Arthur Freed. R.F. Simpson also uses one of Freed's frequent expressions when he says that he "cannot quite visualize it" and has to see it on film first, referring to the Broadway ballet sequence. (This is an obvious cinematic joke, since the audience has just seen it on film.)
Howard Keel was the original choice to play Don Lockwood; however, he was replaced by Gene Kelly as the screenwriters evolved the character from a "Western actor" background to a "song-and-dance vaudeville" background.
The role of Cosmo was written with Oscar Levant in mind but instead was immortalized by Donald O'Connor.
Was voted the 10th Greatest Film of all time by Entertainment Weekly, being the highest ranked musical.
Freed's song, "Make 'Em Laugh" bore a striking similarity to Cole Porter's "Be a Clown" from the producer's 1948 film The Pirate (1948) although no one ever accused him of plagiarism.
Jean Hagen had some previous experience in playing the role of Lina Lamont. Just a couple of years earlier , in her first film appearance, she played the role of a ditzy female in Adam's Rib (1949). That time as a brunette.
It was voted the #1 movie musical in American film history by the American Film Institute in 2006. The song "Singin' In The Rain" ranks #3 in their top songs. It also is in the Top 100 list of AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (#10) and AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions (#16).
Donald O'Connor smoked 4 packs of cigarettes a day throughout filming.
Many real-life silent-film personalities are parodied, especially in the opening sequence. Zelda Zanders - the "Zip Girl" - is Clara Bow, the "It Girl". Olga Mara is Pola Negri, and her husband, Baron de la Bonnet de la Toulon, is a reference to Gloria Swanson's husband, the Marquis Henri de la Falaise de Coudray.
Don and Cosmo were shown as touring through a variety of small towns as part of their vaudeville career. These included Dead Man's Fang (Arizona), Oatmeal (Nebraska) and Coyoteville (New Mexico). These are all fictional although there is a town called Oatmeal in Texas and one called Coyoteville in California.
In the Italian version 'Make'Em Laugh' is sung in Italian and has similar, but a little different lyrics. It's the only song they did this to.
Previews were held in October, November, and December of 1951, so a number of people got to see the completed film before it went into general release in 1952.
Cyd Charisse had to be taught how to smoke a cigarette for the "Broadway Ballet" sequence. She stated that she never smoked another cigarette after that.
The title number was originally supposed to be a showcase for the three leads but Gene Kelly figured it would work well to illustrate his character's joie de vivre.
Ink was added to the water for the title number to make the rain appear more visible.
At the 1972 Academy Awards Gene Kelly blanked Malcolm McDowell because he was so offended by the graphic rape scene in A Clockwork Orange (1971) being performed to the song 'Singin' in the Rain'.
Voted #8 on Empire magazine's 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time (September 2008).
Judy Holliday had been the first choice to play silent-screen star Lina Lamont.
According to supplemental information on the DVD, it took Donald O'Connor three days to film the "Make 'Em Laugh" sequence.
According to supplemental information on the DVD, the first time they tried to film the "Singin' In The Rain" sequence they shot it in the late afternoon. Unfortunately the homeowners in the area had just come home from work and had turned on their lawn sprinklers so there was not enough water pressure for the "rain" to work. They finally filmed the sequence the next day, early enough so that everyone was at work and the water pressure was adequate for the shot.
Initial budget: 1.9 million dollars
"Good Morning", featured in this film and introduced in Babes in Arms (1939), is a reworking of a 1920s Henderson-Brown composition, "This Is The Missus" (aka "Cash and Carry").
Song 'Singin' in the Rain' recorded on 5-6-1951.
A favorite film for French auteurs François Truffaut and Alain Resnais.
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French visa # 12856.
Songs recorded from 22-5-1951.
Song 'You Are My Lucky Star' recorded on 13-6-1951.
Additional shooting on 10-1-1952.

Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

Debbie Reynolds had to rub her eyes with onions to make herself cry for the penultimate scene in the movie, when Kelly tells the audience that she, and not Lina, is the real star of "The Dancing Cavalier."

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