Lon Chaney had just signed a new three picture a year deal with MGM when he was asked to do a cameo in the all-star film. Chaney agreed if it would count as one of his three contracted pictures and he would be paid his regular fee for the bit. As his salary would have eaten up most of the film's budget, the part was played by Gus Edwards with a mask and costume from London After Midnight (1927). Chaney was not happy that his name was exploited with the song, "Lon Chaney Will Get You if You Don't Watch Out." When he died in 1930, the sequence was deleted from existing prints out of respect but was later restored.
One of the films cited as contributing to the collapse of John Gilbert's career after audiences heard his high-pitching speaking voice. Apparently, Gilbert's awkward, ill-equipped interpretation of Shakespearean dialogue inspired the talkie debacle sequence in Singin' in the Rain (1952).
The version shown on Turner Classic Movies is a sound-on-disc print, with the left side of the screen noticeably cropped off in order to accommodate a sound-on-film track, with the result that the title credits and all the ensembles appear to be photographed off center, which was not the case when the film was theatrically exhibited.
In the "Singin' in the Rain" finale, Buster Keaton is shown carrying a small package in his left hand. This visual gag is a reference to Uneeda Biscuits, then a popular product made by Nabisco. The Uneeda Biscuit trademark showed a small boy wearing a yellow rain slicker and hat (similar to the outfits that the cast is wearing in this number) and walking home in the rain with a package of Uneeda Biscuits under his arm.
Reportedly features every major MGM star of the day with the exception of Greta Garbo, Ramon Novarro and Lon Chaney. Garbo was slated to appear in the film, which was supposed to be her talkie debut, in a scene from George Bernard Shaw's "Saint Joan", but the idea was later scrapped when Garbo decided that Anna Christie (1930) was to be her first sound film.
In early screenings, select theaters arranged to have the smell of orange blossoms waft through the audience during the color ballet sequence set to "Orange Blossom Time." This stopped after audience members with hay fever or other sinus conditions complained of allergic reactions to theater managers.
Jack Benny invented the idea of taking Bessie Love out of his pocket and have her grow larger. The effect was achieved by filming Love against a black velvet stage, and tracking in to make her appear to grow larger.