Singin' in the Rain (1952)

102-103 mins | Musical comedy | 11 April 1952

Producer:

Arthur Freed

Cinematographer:

Harold Rosson

Editor:

Adrienne Fazan

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Randall Duell, Harry McAfee

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

According to a 5 Feb 1951 HR news item, Carleton Carpenter was to co-star in the film with Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, and a 19 Mar 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 ... More Less

According to a 5 Feb 1951 HR news item, Carleton Carpenter was to co-star in the film with Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, and a 19 Mar 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 entry). 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 entries).
       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 (see entry), 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 HR news item on 15 May 1949. Information in the Freed Collection also reveals that he received $25,000 for all musical materials for the film on 29 Aug 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 picture was also ranked first on AFI's list of the Greatest Movie Musicals.
       Singin’ in the Rain 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. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
22 Mar 1952.
---
Daily Variety
12 Mar 52
p. 3.
Daily Variety
30 Apr 1981.
---
Daily Variety
12 Feb 1992.
---
Film Daily
14 Mar 52
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
15 May 1949.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Dec 50
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Feb 51
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Mar 51
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Mar 51
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jun 51
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 51
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 51
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 51
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 51
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Aug 51
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Oct 51
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Mar 52
p. 3.
Los Angeles Daily News
10 Apr 1952.
---
Los Angeles Times
10 Apr 1952.
---
Los Angeles Times
27 Dec 1974.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 May 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Feb 92
Calendar, p. 32.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
15 Mar 52
p. 1281.
New York Times
27 Mar 52
p. 35.
New York Times
28 Mar 52
p. 27.
Newsweek
7 Apr 1952.
---
Time
21 Apr 1952.
---
Variety
12 Mar 52
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Robert Watson
"Beautiful Girl" number and montage:
Girl Friends' Group in "Beautiful Girl" number and montage:
and
"All I Do Is Dream of You" number:
Dancing and Singing Quartette:
Chic Collins
Dave Sharpe
Tim Hawkins
Jimmie Bates
Joy Lansing
Helen Eby-Rock
Glen Gallagher
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Story and scr
Story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Props
COSTUMES
Cost des
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
DANCE
Mus numbers staged and dir
Mus numbers staged and dir
Asst dance dir
Asst dance dir
Tap instructor
MAKEUP
Hair styles des
Hairdresser
Makeup created by
Makeup
Body makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Prod mgr
Scr supv
Asst to Arthur Freed
Asst to Arthur Freed
STAND INS
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Suggested by the song "Singin' In The Rain," music by Nacio Herb Brown, lyrics by Arthur Freed.
MUSIC
"Broadway Ballet" by Nacio Herb Brown.
SONGS
"All I Do Is Dream of You," "Broadway Rhythm," "Broadway Melody," "Make 'Em Laugh," "You Were Meant For Me," "Singin' In The Rain," "You Are My Lucky Star," "Would You," "Good Morning" and "Beautiful Girl," music by Nacio Herb Brown, lyrics by Arthur Freed
"Moses," music by Roger Edens, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
"Fit As A Fiddle," music by Al Hoffman and Al Goodhart, lyrics by Arthur Freed.
DETAILS
Release Date:
11 April 1952
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 27 March 1952
Los Angeles opening: 9 April 1952
Production Date:
15 June--21 November 1951
retakes ended 26 December 1951
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
11 March 1952
Copyright Number:
LP1585
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
102-103
Length(in feet):
9,228
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15511
Passed by NBR:
Yes
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. ... +


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 . +

Legend
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Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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