Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Singin' in the Rain
"Singin' in the Rain" is a song with lyrics by Arthur Freed and music by Nacio Herb Brown, published in 1929. It was a hit at the time and recorded by a number of artists, notably Cliff Edwards, who also performed the number in the early musical sound film The Hollywood Revue of 1929. It was also performed on film by Jimmy Durante and Judy Garland. The song was the centerpiece of a 1952 film of the same name which forms the basis for the remainder of this article, and was subsequently featured in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange.
The movie has an extraordinarily intelligent plot, which greatly contributes to the work being systematically classified as the best musical comedy ever. Themes of certains arts being inferior to others, or the immortal if you seen one of them, you've seen them all (which is what Rossini also said about his operas) are today as vivid as ever.
Kelly plays Don Lockwood, a silent film star with humble roots. Lockwood barely tolerates his vapid leading lady, Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen), who is convinced their screen romance is real. After the smash-hit of the historical talking picture innovator, The Jazz Singer, Lockwood's studio decides to convert the current Lockwood/Lamont vehicle, The Dueling Cavalier into a talkie. The production is beset with difficulties, not least Lina's inadvertently comical speaking voice.
After a terrible screen test, Lockwood and his partner Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor) decide to return to their roots and convince the studio to overdub Lamont's voice and turn The Dueling Cavalier into The Dancing Cavalier, a musical comedy. Meanwhile Lockwood falls in love with the overdub artist Kathie Selden (Debbie Reynolds) and Lamont does everything possible to sabotage the romance.
The film features a rendition of the 1929 Freed & Brown song, along with other popular tunes from the late 1920s and the 1930s. The dance routine in which Gene Kelly sings the title song while twirling an umbrella, splashing through puddles and generally getting soaked to the skin, is probably the most famous of all movie musical sequences. It has of course been parodied several times, notably by Morecambe and Wise and Paddington Bear.
It has also been the subject of a 2005 advert for the new VW Golf GTI, where Kelly appears to be break dancing instead of doing his usual routine until he reaches a policeman standing by the car. This was done using three break dancers, a recreation of the original set and superimposing Kelly's face onto the dancer.
Original music and lyrics were written by Comden and Green.
The audio commentary on the movie's "Special Edition" DVD includes a claim that the original negative was destroyed in a fire. In spite of this, the movie has been digitally restored to an impressive standard of picture and sound quality.
- In the scenes where Kathy (Debbie Reynolds) is seen over-dubbing Lena Lamont (Jean Hagen), it is actually Hagen's voice we hear. She provided her own track for both talking and singing and Reynolds is actually miming to that.
- However most sources give Betty Noyes as the proprietor of the "beautiful" singing voice, used in Would You and the final You Are My Lucky Star. It is certainly different from Debbie's talking voice.
- This brings us to another legend, that Jean Hagen actually dubbed Debbie in the entire movie, since Debbie's Texas accent was judged too thick. Debbie certainly does not acknowledge anything like that during her extensive commentary on the Special Edition DVD and this appears incorrect to a careful listener too. Had this been the truth, the on-stage reality would have been an exact mirror image of the movie itself.
- In the famous rain scene, Kelly is actually dancing in a weak solution of milk so that it would be picked up by the camera.
- An additional performance of You Are My Lucky Star featuring Debbie Reynolds singing to a giant poster of Gene Kelly was cut from the final film and was not released to the public until the 1990s. One possible reason why the scene was cut is that it somewhat contradicts the initial scene where Debbie does not immediately identify Gene when he jumps into her car. Surviving prints of the sequence feature Reynolds singing in her own voice.
- 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.
- Dora Bailey, the gushy gossip columnist is an uncredited role played by Madge Blake who was later famous for her role as Aunt Harriet on Batman.
- In the lead in to Make 'em Laugh, O'Conner/Cosmo sarcastically references the tragic line "ridi pagliaccio" ("Laugh, clown") from I Pagliacci.
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