It’s 1927 and Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are the most famous actors in Hollywood. But when the first talking picture The Jazz Singer, turns out to be a huge hit, their new film The Dueling Cavalier has to be transferred into a ‘talkie’. This is no problem for Don, but Lina’s shrill voice proves difficult to adjust. So aspiring actress Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), Don’s love interest, dub’s Lina’s voice. But when Lina finds out, she gets furious…..
Gene Kelly - Don Lockwood
Debbie Reynolds - Kathy Selden
Donald O’Connor - Cosmo Brown
Jean Hagen - Lina Lamont
Millard Mitchell - R.F Simpson
Cyd Charisse - Dancer
Rita Moreno - Zelda Zanders
Douglas Fowley - Roscoe Dexter
- The script was written after the songs, so the writers had to come up with a story to fit the music.
- Judy Garland, Ann Miller, June Allyson, Jane Powell and Leslie Caron were all considered for the role of Kathy before newcomer Debbie Reynolds was chosen.
- Judy Holliday was considered for the part of Lina Lamont. But since she was doing Born Yesterday on Broadway she suggested her understudy Jean Hagen, who got the part.
- In several scene’s Debbie Reynolds’ character Kathy is dubbing Jean Hagen’s character Lina’s speaking voice. But in reality Jean Hagen’s voice was much deeper and richer than Debbie’s, so the voice you hear is Jean Hagen’s. So Jean is dubbing Debbie dubbing Jean Hagen’s character.
- Gene Kelly did not only play the leading role, but was also one of the directors. Being a perfectionist, he was not always easy to work with and even said afterward: ‘I wasn’t very nice to Debbie, it’s a wonder she still speaks to me’. In return Debbie said: ‘Singin’ in the Rain and childbirth were the two hardest things I ever had to do in my life’.
- A lot of props from previous films were used for Singin’ in the Rain. 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 romantic drama, Flesh and the Devil. And the wig Jean Hagen wears when coming out of the dressing room while saying: ‘Gee, this wig weighs a ton’, was worn by Norma Shearer in the 1938 movie Marie Antoinette.
- Real-life silent film personalities were parodied in the film. Zelda Zanders, the ‘zip-girl’, is inspired by Clara Bow, the ‘it-girl’. Olga Mara by Pola Negri, and her husband Baron de la Bonnet de la Toulon by Gloria Swanson’s husband the Marquis Henry de Falaise de Coudray.
- The three leading actors practically worked themselves sick for the dance-routines. After fourteen hours of shooting, Debbie Reynolds had to be carried to her dressing room because her feet were bleeding. Donald O’Conner, who played Cosmo, worked himself to exhaustion on the ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ number, which had him resurrecting bits of acrobatic comedy he’d done in the days of vaudeville. After filming the number he went to bed for several days, only to learn that the footage had been accidentally destroyed and he had to do it all over. Gene Kelly was sick and had a fever during shooting of the famous ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ scene, but nevertheless kept going until he thought it was perfect.
- The film was made as a response to the successful musical An American in Paris (also starring Gene Kelly). Although it has now succeeded its predecessor in popularity, at the time of release Singin’ in the Rain was seen as inferior to An American in Paris.
Best Motion Picture Actor – Donald O’Conner – 1953 Golden Globes
Best Written American Musical – Betty Comden and Adolph Green – 1953 Writers Guild of America
Best Performance by an Actor – Donald O’Conner – 1952 Hollywood Foreign Press Association
Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Jean Hagen – 1953 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Best Music – Lennie Hayton – 1953 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Best Film – Singin’ in the Rain – 1953 British Academy of Film and Television Arts
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures – Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen – 1952 Directors Guild of America
Best Picture – Singin’ in the Rain – 1952 National Board of Review
Best Picture – Musical or Comedy – 1952 Hollywood Foreign Press Association
Best Picture – Musical/Comedy – 1953 Golden Globes
Singin’ in the Rain is seen as one of the best, if not thé best, musical of all times. It is therefore still very popular and is often mentioned in other films and series. In 1989 it was among the first 25 films chosen for the newly established National Film Registry for films that are deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation. The Singin’ in the Rain scene with Gene Kelly is often imitated and it is the scene for which he is most remembered. It also launched the careers of Debbie Reynolds and Cyd Charisse.