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Singin’ in the Rain turns 70 and these fascinating facts tell the story of a cult film

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Its iconic dance sequences and catchy songs made Singin’ in the Rain one of the most celebrated films in history.

To mark the 70th anniversary since its release, here we reveal the fascinating facts about the cult film.

1 Singin’ in the Rain focuses on the cinematic transition from silent films to “talkies”.

2 It was filmed in 1952 but is set in the 1920s.

3 If the shooting schedule had been tighter, it could have been Singin’ in the Drizzle. When they first attempted to film the sequence of the same name, it was on a hot day and all the houses near the studios were using their lawn sprinklers, meaning there wasn’t enough water pressure to provide a decent shower. It was re-shot early the next morning.

4 Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds didn’t get along, partly due to their lack of dance experience.







Gene Kelly in a legendary recording from Singin’ in the Rain
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5 She later admitted that the friction between the two may have been caused by her tendency to chew gum. Before one scene, she stuck her gum on the rung of a ladder that Kelly was resting his head on. As he moved away, so did his toupee.

6 Cast as romantic lead Kathy Selden, Reynolds had no dance background, although she was a gifted gymnast.

7 Kelly realized he was a tough disciplinarian. “Luckily Debbie was strong as an ox,” he said. “Plus she was a great copyist.”

8th After the song “Good Morning” was filmed, Kelly felt the tap sounds weren’t good enough, so he danced the number one more time in synchronous space—both his own and Debbie’s.

9 Kelly wasn’t the first choice to play Don Lockwood, actor and singer Howard Keel was.

10 Kelly got the role when she was rewritten to be a former vaudeville singer/dancer rather than a cowboy actor.







Gene Kelly’s famous umbrella scene in Singin’ In The Rain
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Howard Kiel from 1951
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11 Unlike most motion picture musicals at the time, it wasn’t adapted from a Broadway show – it was a new script using old songs written for previous films.

12 The song Singin’ in the Rain was not written specifically for the musical. In fact, it was the seventh time it was used on the big screen.

13 It was written by Arthur Freed with music by Nacio Herb Brown.

14 It was recorded several times in 1929 by artists such as Annette Hanshaw.

15 Also that year the song was recorded in Spanish. Cantando bajo la Lluvia was sung by Argentine musician Charlo.

16 The song made its film debut in 1930’s The Ship from Shanghai – performed by a nightclub band and sung in Chinese dialect.

17 The 1930 short film The Dogville Melody also features it.

18 Jimmy Durante sang it briefly in Buster Keaton’s 1932 comedy Speak Easy.

19 In 1983 the film was adapted into a musical in London’s West End before going to Broadway.

20 Make ’em Laugh was the only song made specifically for the film.







Cyd Charisse and Gene Kelly on the set of Singin’ in the Rain
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21 The song was written to sound somewhat like Be a Clown from Cole Porter’s 1947 MGM musical The Pirate.

22 Director Stanley Donen later described Make ’em Laugh as quite a rip-off – “a 100 percent plagiarism” of Be a Clown.

23 Porter didn’t complain because he was grateful for all the career support Stanley had given him.

24 Kelly starred and co-directed Singin’ in the Rain and choreographed all of the dance routines.

25 The film is widely credited with creating the “integrated musical” – in which the dance drives the action.

26 Cyd Charisse was only a few minutes on screen in The Broadway Melody Ballet dream sequence, but it left a lasting impression on moviegoers.

27 Her legs were insured for a million dollars.

28 Charisse suffered from polio as a child, which causes muscle weakness, and she only took up dancing to build muscle strength.

29 Kelly had a fever and a body temperature of 39.4C when she shot the title sequence.

30 He choreographed his dance scenes with Charisse to hide the fact that she was taller than him.







The last take of the “Good Morning” number, in which Don, Kathy and Cosmo fall over the couch, lasted 40 takes.
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31 Donald O’Connor won a Golden Globe for Best Actor for his role in the film.

32 For the number “Make ’em Laugh,” Kelly asked O’Connor to revive a move he did as a young dancer, running up a wall and doing a somersault.

33 Suffering from exhaustion and painful carpet burns, O’Connor ended up in the hospital for a week. He said, “I was smoking four packs of cigarettes a day back then, and standing up those walls was murder.”

34 When he returned, O’Connor learned that a technical error had ruined all the footage, and he had to reshoot the entire number.

35 Both Reynolds and O’Connor labeled Kelly a “bully.”

36 Reynolds was only 19 when she starred in Singin’ in the Rain, while Kelly was 39.

37 During filming, she still lived at home with her parents and had to commute to the set in three buses every morning.

38 Reynolds was often in tears because of the grueling workout at MGM Studios. She was comforted by Fred Astaire, who told her, “You’re not going to die. That’s how it is to learn to dance. If you don’t sweat, you’re not doing it right.”

39 At the end of the 14-hour day that Good Morning was filmed, Reynolds had to be carried to her dressing room and she ruptured blood vessels in her feet.

40 Reynolds later said, “Singin’ in the Rain and childbirth were the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.”

41 The last take of Good Morning, which sees the three falling over the couch, lasted 40 takes.

42 Kelly’s American in Paris co-star Leslie Caron was the first choice for Reynolds’ role but was unavailable.






Eric Morecambe in Singin’ in the Rain, a tribute to Gene Kelly

43 Costume designer Walter Plunkett said it needed more elaborate costumes than Gone with the Wind, which he had been working on.

44 The film was not a success upon initial release as critics saw it as a so-so sequel to American in Paris.

45 Public opinion changed over time and it is now considered one of the greatest American musical films.

46 Morecambe and Wise’s parody of Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain was named best parody film of all time.

47 Barry Norman, who attended the show, said Eric and Ernie are just as dead serious as Kelly.

48 Kelly was a fastidious director and most of the dances can be seen without much editing.

49 Singer Betty Noyes provides the vocals for Reynolds, singing “Would You” and “You Are My Lucky Star” for her.

50 In the repeating sequence where Reynolds’ character Kathy dubs Lina Lamont’s dialogue, it is actually Jean Hagen’s own voice.

51 Melvyn Douglas sings Singin’ in the Rain in the 1932 horror comedy The Old Dark Horse.

52 Judy Garland sang it in the 1940 musical Little Nellie Kelly.







Gene Kelly with Debbie Reynolds
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53 The song was performed by William Bendix and cast in 1948’s The Babe Ruth Story.

54 Charisse had to learn how to smoke a cigarette for The Broadway Melody Ballet segment.

55 Dean Martin spoofed the song on The Colgate Comedy Hour show in 1950 – viewers saw him drenched in water by co-host Jerry Lewis.

56 In 1961, Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney (George Clooney’s aunt) recorded the song for their radio show.

57 You can hear Bing and Rosemary’s version on the album Bing & Rosie – The Crosby-Clooney Radio Sessions.

58 Although the Singin’ in the Rain sequence is iconic, Kelly preferred The Broadway Melody Ballet.

59 Diana Krall is the youngest artist to cover Singin’ in the Rain – it appears on her 2020 album.

60 Reynolds said of the song’s most famous version, “It was just the rain, a road, a lamppost, an umbrella and a genius that made this an unforgettable number.”

61 Following Reynolds’ death in 2016, Rita Moreno, who played Zelda Zanders, is the film’s last surviving star.

62 Kelly wanted Moreno to cut her hair for her role, but she refused, so she wore a wig instead.

63 Moreno was unimpressed by Reynolds, saying, “I remember honestly thinking I could have done that part. I was a much better dancer.”

64 Moreno got her chance in the spotlight when she won an Oscar for The King and I in 1957.

65 Kelly was already famous thanks to American in Paris, but Singin’ in the Rain made him Hollywood’s brightest star – the pin-up for US post-war optimism.

66 O’Connor’s green plaid Fit As a Fiddle suit and shoes are on permanent display at the Costume World Broadway Collection Museum in Pompano Beach, Florida.

67 The film’s television premiere had to be delayed due to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

68 The soundstage used for the title sequence was used for street scenes in the US sitcom Seinfeld.

69 Hagen was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance as the silent star Lina with a Squeaky Voice.

70 Singin’ in the Rain was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score.

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