Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Singin' in the Rain: True Hollywood Goodness
I can't believe it's November already! Where has the time gone? It really seems this year has flown by. And looking back over the year, I noticed there are quite of few huge favorite films of mine that I have yet to write about. So, since we've been getting a lot of rain lately here in LA (very odd for this time of year, or LA, period), what better time to finally talk about the musical of musicals - "Singin' in the Rain!"
ingénue (Reynolds), he is able to save his career by turning his latest picture into a musical. O'Connor plays Kelly's best friend in this delightful musical comedy, considered by many to be the best musical ever made.
Moses Supposes." (O'Connor's famous song "Make 'Em Laugh" is also considered an original song, but its melody so closely resembles Cole Porter's "Be A Clown," from Freed's "The Pirate" in 1948, that many consider it stolen. Story has it that Porter actually visited the set during "Make 'Em Laugh" and asked about the melody, only to have Freed quickly change the subject and lead Porter out.)
When Comden and Green were first writing the script, they had Howard Keel in mind for the lead, as more of a Western star. But as they progressed, the lead morphed into a Vaudevillian song-and-dance man instead, with Gene Kelly fitting the bill. Kelly decided he wanted to direct the picture as well, so with Stanley Donen co-directing and co-choreographing (whom he had worked with before in "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and "On the Town" (both 1949)), they managed to bring out the best in everyone, and make a beautiful ensemble picture. At least that's what we see on the screen. The production was not easy for his costars.
Good Morning" number, she had to be carried to her dressing room because her feet were bleeding so much. However, Kelly still yelled at her for her inexperience, to the point where Fred Astaire found her crying under a piano, and hearing her story, volunteered to help her with her routines on his own time. Kelly did feel bad for his tyrant behavior though, stating later "I wasn't nice to Debbie. It's a wonder she still speaks to me." Reynolds later chuckled herself saying working with Kelly and surviving childbirth were the two hardest experiences she's ever had to endure.
An American in Paris" costar Oscar Levant, was very physically demanding. O'Connor, having grown up around the circus (both his parents were circus performers), had a strong athletic history, which is why Kelly favored him over Levant. But at the time of filming, O'Connor was smoking four packs of cigarettes a day. O'Connor filmed his "Make 'Em Laugh" wall somersaults and dance routine with professionalism and perfection, but after it was over, he went to bed for three days from exhaustion, bruises and rug burns. Unfortunately, something happened with the film, and it all had to be re-shot only a few days later. In the true professional spirit, like all involved, he did it without complaint.
Born Yesterday" (1950), she herself suggested her understudy from the Broadway version as a suitable second choice. Thus, Jean Hagen got the part. Hagen actually had a beautiful, rich voice. So, in a funny twist, during the scenes where Reynolds is supposed to be dubbing Hagen's voice, that is actually Hagen dubbing Reynolds...dubbing Hagen. As for the singing, beautifully voiced Betty Noyes dubbed Reynolds dubbing Hagen. The only songs Reynolds actually sang were "All I Do is Dream of You," "Good Morning", and the final "Singin' in the Rain."
So get out your dancing shoes, your umbrellas, and go play in the rain! (Just be sure to dry off and drink something warm when you get back. I don't want to be getting everyone sick.) Or just stay in and watch "Singin' in the Rain." I dare you not to smile. Have a great week, everyone! Til Friday. :)
famous title number sequence. They wanted to send him home to recover, but he refused, stating the setup would take too much time to begin again. So, while be rained on by a mixture of water and milk (so it would show up better on film), Kelly got the shot in one take, went home, and recovered.)