AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Singin' in the Rain
Director: Gene Kelly (Dir)
Release Date:   11 Apr 1952
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 27 Mar 1952; Los Angeles opening: 9 Apr 1952
Production Date:   15 Jun--21 Nov 1951; retakes ended 26 Dec 1951
Duration (in mins):   102-103
Duration (in feet):   9,228
Duration (in reels):   12
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Cast:   Gene Kelly (Don Lockwood)  
    Donald O'Connor (Cosmo Brown)  
    Debbie Reynolds (Kathy Selden)  
    Jean Hagen (Lina Lamont)  
    Millard Mitchell (R. F. Simpson)  
    Cyd Charisse (Dancer)  
    Douglas Fowley (Roscoe Dexter)  
    Rita Moreno (Zelda Zanders)  
    Madge Blake (Dora Bailey)  
    King Donovan (Rod)  
    Kathleen Freeman (Phoebe Dinsmore)  
    Robert Watson (Diction coach)  
    Julius Tannen (Actor in "talking picture" clip)  
    Tommy Farrell (Sid Phillips)  
    Jimmie Thompson (Male lead in "Beautiful Girl" number)  
    Dan Foster (Assistant director)  
    Margaret Bert (Wardrobe woman)  
    Mae Clarke (Hairdresser)  
  "Beautiful Girl" number and montage: Patricia Denise    
    Janet Lavis    
    Sheila Meyers    
    Betty Scott    
    Joyce Horne    
    Joey Robinson    
    Shirley Lopez    
    Ann Newland    
    Betty Erbes    
    Joanne Rio    
    Marcella Becker    
    Pat Jackson    
    Marie Ardell    
    Peggy Murray    
    Audrey Saunders    
    Gloria DeWerd    
    Shirley Glickman    
  and Jeanne Coyne    
  Girl Friends' Group in "Beautiful Girl" number and montage: Norma Zimmer    
    Betty Allen    
    Dorothy McCarty    
  and Sue Allen    
  "All I Do Is Dream of You" number: Patricia Denise    
    Janet Lavis    
    Betty Hannon    
    Jeanne Coyne    
  and Pat Jackson    
  Dancing and Singing Quartette: Bill Chatham    
    Ernest Flatt    
    Don Hulbert    
  and Robert Dayo    
    Judy Landon (Olga Mara)  
    John Dodsworth (Baron)  
    Stuart Holmes (J. C. Spendrill III)  
    Jon Gardner (Kid)  
    David Kasday (Kid)  
    Inez Gorman (Mrs. Simpson)  
    Allen Sutherland (Don as a boy)  
    Dennis Ross (Cosmo as a boy)  
    Charles Regan (Saloon keeper)  
    Angie O. Poulis (Fruit peddler)  
    Bill Lewin (Villain)  
    Carl Milletaire (Villain)  
    Richard Emery (Phil/Cowboy Hero)  
    Ben Stroback (Leading man)  
    Allen Pinson (Fencer)  
    Jean Heremans (Fencer)  
    Russ Saunders (Fencer)  
    Chic Collins (Fencer)  
    Dave Sharpe (Fencer)  
    Diane Garrett (Usherette)  
    Marilyn Moore (Usherette)  
    Jan Kayne (Usherette)  
    Dorothy Patrick (Usherette)  
    Robert B. Williams (Policeman)  
    Leon Lontoc (Filipino butler)  
    Gwen Carter (Girl talking with Cosmo at party)  
    Ann McCrea (Girl at party)  
    Patrick Conway (Projectionist)  
    Joseph Mell (Projectionist)  
    Bert Davidson (Sound engineer)  
    Harry Tenbrook (Workman)  
    Dawn Addams (Lady-in-waiting)  
    Fred Datig Jr. (Ticket taker)  
    William Schallert (Messenger on screen)  
    Adam York (Publicity man)  
    Bill Leicester (Man in black)  
    Jack George (Orchestra leader)  
    Brick Sullivan (Cop in "Rain" number)  
    Snub Pollard (Old man in "Rain" number)  
    Wilson Wood (Vallee impersonator)  
    Peggy Murray (Fainting girl)  
    Anthony Rocke (Man in forecourt)  
    Robert Foulk (Matt the cop)  
    Tim Hawkins (Boy)  
    Jimmie Bates (Boy)  
    Johnny McGovern (Boy)  
    David Bair (Boy)  
    Gloria Moore    
    Audrey Washburn    
    Virginia Lee    
    Jeanne Gail    
    Ivor James    
    Don Fields    
    Joy Lansing    
    Bette Arlen    
    Dee Turnell    
    Paul Salata    
    Frank Hyers    
    Tommy Walker    
    Michael Dugan    
    Patrick Conway    
    Charles Evans    
    Harry Cody    
    Paul Maxey    
    Helen Eby-Rock    
    "Tiny" Jim Kelly    
    Peggy Leon    
    Beatrice Gray    
    Ruth Packard    
    Marietta Elliot    
    Lyle Clark    
    Glen Gallagher    
    Dean Denson    
    Gail Bonney    
    Marion Gray    
    Forbes Murray    
    Cameron Grant    
    Kay Deslys    
    Phil Dunham    
    John Logan    
    William R. Hamel    
    John Albright    
    Morgan Jones    

Summary: 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

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew's Inc.)
Distribution Company: Loew's Inc.  
Director: Gene Kelly (Dir)
  Stanley Donen (Dir)
  Marvin Stuart (Asst dir)
  John Greenward (2d asst dir)
Producer: Arthur Freed (Prod)
Writer: Adolph Green (Story and scr)
  Betty Comden (Story and scr)
Photography: Harold Rosson (Dir of photog)
  Frank Phillips (Cam op)
  Eric Carpenter (Stills)
  Wesley Shanks (Gaffer)
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons (Art dir)
  Randall Duell (Art dir)
  Harry McAfee (Art dir)
Film Editor: Adrienne Fazan (Film ed)
  Ed Hartzke (Asst ed)
Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis (Set dec)
  Jacque Mapes (Set dec)
  Tony Ordoqui (Props)
  Tommy Crawford (Props)
Costumes: Walter Plunkett (Cost des)
  Vicky Nichols (Ward)
  Dave Saltuper (Ward)
Music: Lennie Hayton (Mus dir)
  Johnny Green (Mus dir)
  Conrad Salinger (Orch)
  Wally Heglin (Orch)
  Skip Martin (Orch)
  Robert Franklyn (Orch)
  Maurice DePackh (Orch)
  Alexander Courage (Orch)
  Jeff Alexander (Vocal arr)
Sound: Douglas Shearer (Rec supv)
  Norwood Fenton (Sd)
Special Effects: Irving G. Ries (Spec eff)
  Warren Newcombe (Spec eff)
Dance: Gene Kelly (Mus numbers staged and dir)
  Stanley Donen (Mus numbers staged and dir)
  Jeanne Coyne (Asst dance dir)
  Carol Haney (Asst dance dir)
  Ernest Flatt (Tap instructor)
Make Up: Sydney Guilaroff (Hair styles des)
  Helene Parsons (Hairdresser)
  William Tuttle (Makeup created by)
  John True (Makeup)
  Mary Bashe (Body makeup)
Production Misc: Walter Strohm (Prod mgr)
  Charles Hunt (Prod mgr)
  Dorothy Aldrin (Scr supv)
  Hank Forrester (Grip)
  Lela Simone (Asst to Arthur Freed)
  Bill Ryan (Asst to Arthur Freed)
Stand In: Rene Barsam (Stand-in)
  Alma Maison (Stand-in)
  Phil Garris (Stand-in)
Color Personnel: Henri Jaffa (Technicolor col consultant)
  James Gooch (Technicolor col consultant)
Country: United States
Language: English

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.
Composer: Nacio Herb Brown
  Betty Comden
  Roger Edens
  Arthur Freed
  Al Goodhart
  Adolph Green
  Al Hoffman
Source Text: Suggested by the song "Singin' in the Rain," music by Nacio Herb Brown, lyrics by Arthur Freed.
Authors: Arthur Freed
  Nacio Herb Brown

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Loew's Inc. 11/3/1952 dd/mm/yyyy LP1585 Yes

PCA NO: 15511
Physical Properties: Sd: Western Electric Sound System
  col: Technicolor

 
Genre: Musical comedy
Sub-Genre: Show business
 
Subjects (Major): Hollywood (CA)
  Deception
  Impersonation and imposture
  Motion picture actors and actresses
  Romance
  Singers
  United States--History--Social life and customs
 
Subjects (Minor): Beverly Hills (CA)
  Cake
  Contracts
  Dancers
  Dismissal (Employment)
  Friendship
  Grauman's Chinese Theatre (Los Angeles, CA)
  The Jazz Singer (Motion picture)
  Jealousy
  Motion picture fans
  Motion picture premieres
  Motion picture producers
  Motion picture studios
  Musicians
  Parties
  Police
  Publicity
  Radio programs
  Rainstorms
  Romantic rivalry
  Variety (Newspaper)

Note: 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 AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). 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 AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 .)
       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 above), 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. 

Bibliographic Sources:   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.

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