What a glorious feeling! Musings on Singin’ in the Rain

Woo hoo!! I’m so glad there’s such a thing as a TCM anniversary events that allow people like me who miss out on soooo many classic films to actually enjoy them the way it’s meant to be… on the big screen!

Thanks to my pal Michael of It Rains… You Get Wet blog who first told me about this TCM event a few months ago, hence I got to see Casablanca at the cinema too and it was marvelous. My appreciation post for it is overdue I know, but it will happen, so stay tuned 😀

I have seen this iconic shot soooo many times, and as a fan of scenes in the rain, surely this one would’ve made it to that list had I seen it before. But the truth is, I don’t know hardly anything about this movie, I didn’t even know that Gene Kelly not only starred in it but he co-directed it with Stanley Donen! I also didn’t know that Debbie Reynolds was only 19 when she made this film. The premise about transition in Hollywood from silent to ‘talkie’ films is a bit reminiscent of The Artist. It’s one of those topics that always fascinates me, and making it a musical parody is just brilliant!

One major complaint I have with these TCM screenings is that they assume everyone has seen the movie! So they put the very revealing interviews, clips, etc. IN FRONT of the film instead of after! They did that with Casablanca too, but I noticed on IMDb’s page forum that someone had the exact same complaint about spoiling the movie to those who haven’t seen it! I hope TCM would fix that for future screenings and run the interview segments afterward!

So does it live up to being American Film Institute (AFI)’s #1 Movie Musical of all time?

I’d say so. The song and dance sequences were absolutely wonderful to watch! I quite like musicals and have seen a number of them, from classics like My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music, to contemporary ones like Moulin Rouge! and Chicago. I could see why this tops them all. Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor were superb, I mean they were truly the best in the business, the whole time I saw them dance I kept thinking, ‘how in the heck did they do that??’ It’s mind-boggling the kind of energy they put into these sequences and of course, the technical aspects such as footwork, doing somersault, etc. are spectacular. Gene Kelly’s jubilant singin’ in the rain sequence is marvelously iconic, definitely deserves a spot on my favorite scenes in the rain list!

I’m also impressed with Debbie Reynolds who did not know how to dance before the film began, but wow her gymnastic background certainly helped pulled it off as I thought she was brilliant. Read on below as to who helped her with dancing tips, no it’s not really her co-star.

Some of my favorite dance sequences

Now, story-wise it’s pretty cute. It’s predictable really, but then you don’t watch these movies for the plot. There were some really cheesy sequences and some went on way too long, I cringed during the scene where Don wooed Kathy in that empty stage, complete with fake moonlight and giant fan for wind-blown effect, ahah. It was just too corny and silly, but I guess it’s a small quibble in the grand scheme of things.

Oh I have to mention the wonderful Jean Hagen as the diva with the high-pitched voice Lina Lamont! She’s such a great comic relief in this movie, the way she was pining for Don because she believed the tabloid stories is hilarious. But the funniest part was the whole mic fiasco as the filmmaker and cast attempt to film their first talking sequence. I was in stitches throughout that whole scene seeing the frustrated director responding to the dumb but defiant actress simply unable to take his direction! I call her Lina Lament as she made everybody suffer, ahah.

“Well I can’t make love to a bush!”

Anyway, I read up about the movie shortly before going to see it, and there were some fascinating trivia. Here are some of them from Wikipedia and IMDb:

• In the famous dance routine in which Gene Kelly sings the title song while twirling an umbrella, splashing through puddles and getting soaked to the skin, Kelly was sick with a 103 °F (39 °C) fever at the time. The rain in the scene caused Kelly’s wool suit to shrink during filming. A common myth is that Kelly managed to perform the entire song in one take, thanks to cameras placed at predetermined locations. However this was not the case as the filming of the sequence took place over 2–3 days.

• Debbie Reynolds was not a dancer at the time she made Singin’ in the Rain — her background was as a gymnast. Kelly apparently insulted her for her lack of dance experience, upsetting her. Fred Astaire was hanging around the studio and found Reynolds crying under a piano. Hearing what had happened, Astaire volunteered to help her with her dancing. Kelly later admitted that he had not been kind to Reynolds and was surprised that she was still willing to talk to him afterwards.

• For the Make Em Laugh number, Gene Kelly asked Donald O’Connor to revive a trick he had done as a young dancer, running up a wall and completing a somersault. The number was so physically taxing that O’Connor, who smoked four packs of cigarettes a day at the time, went to bed (or may have been hospitalized, depending on the source) for a week after its completion, suffering from exhaustion and painful carpet burns. Unfortunately, an accident ruined all of the initial footage, so after a brief rest, O’Connor, ever the professional, agreed to do the difficult number all over again.

This scene is just fabulous and sure to bring a smile to your face no matter how bad your day goes. Bravo Mr. O’Connor!

I’m certainly glad I saw this iconic classic musical on the big screen! I’m hoping to see more of these TCM presents, hopefully they’ll present Roman Holiday soon 😀

What did you think of this movie folks? Anybody else seeing this on the first time on the big screen?

60 thoughts on “What a glorious feeling! Musings on Singin’ in the Rain

  1. PrairieGirl

    I haven’t seen this movie in a while, so your post brought back smiles when I think back on the scenes you describe ;-D Thanks for background trivia too.

  2. Can’t bring myself to watch this Ruth. I detest musicals and find them always becoming ridiculous. I know this may sound obtuse or ignorant but it’s one of my major movie watching faults.

    1. That is ok Mark, we all have the genres we like or dislikes. I can’t stand horror or overly violent or bleak/depressing movies too, so I tend to avoid those.

      1. I hear where you’re coming from Mark. Nothing but Apocalypse Now and Fight Club for us. LOL.

        Musicals are my one weak spot although I really liked Chicago, All That Jazz and alterna-musicals like The Muppet Movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut and recently Dr Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog. Yes I even liked The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Willy Wonka and The Wizard Of Oz from my childhood. Though as a film buff I really should see films like Singin’, West Side Story, The Music Man, Cabaret, My Fair Lady, 42nd Street, The King and I, An American In Paris and Meet Me In St Louis. I guess I’m bigger on the singing than the dancing.

        1. Wow, for someone who doesn’t like musicals you sure have seen a bazillion of them Dave! 🙂 I still want to see Gigi as well, haven’t got around to that one, but My Fair Lady is lovely, hope you get to see it soon, esp. if you’re a fan of Audrey Hepburn!

          1. Audrey is such a classical beauty. A pixie if there ever was one. She’s really timeless like Grace Kelly.

            Bazillion? I’ve seen a few but I haven’t really seen the top flight ones on the bottom of that list. It’s hard not to grow up a kid in the 70’s and not see The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Willy Wonka, The Wizard Of Oz… and The Muppets. LOL.

    2. Hey Mark, I usually feel the same way about musicals, but I just watched Singin’ in the Rain recently and I liked it a lot more than I expected. I say give it a shot. 😀

      1. Aaaw! Eric, you’ve now made that two people’s opinions that I respect, recommending this. Tell you what, if it comes on tv I’ll watch it but I aint spending money on it. Fair enough?

        1. I went to see if it was on Netflix just for you Mark ; ) and man is Netflix is sorely lacking in musicals. None of the MGM stuff. Zero. It had the original The Producers and not much else. Still… “Springtime For Hitler” may be the funniest song written for screen other than Eric Idle’s work with The Pythons.

          1. Oh the Springtime for Hitler is a hoot!! It was sooo funny on stage as well. Btw, what do you think of the remake with Nathan Lane/Matthew Broderick, Dave? I thought Uma Thurman was quite funny in it.

            1. You know I havent seen it. I guess it’s kind of ‘been there, done that’. Uma doesn’t really do it for me although she was quite good in Tarantino’s movies and Gattica. I do like Nathan Lane, especially in The Birdcage and the younger Matthew Broderick. Maybe I’ll give it a looksy although it’s going to be hard for Will Farrell to top Kenneth Mars in my book.

        2. No, you have to see it on the big screen! 😀 He..he.. well I think it’s worth spending a bit of money on. I paid $12 bucks to see it for the TCM thing and it was well worth it.

  3. I am so, so glad you enjoyed this! It’s my favorite movie, and Kelly is my all-time favorite movie star. It was such a great experience to watch this in the theater and to hear the audience laughing and even singing along, and applauding all the musical numbers. Hope you don’t mind a little plug, but please check out my blog for a week’s worth of posts about Gene Kelly! I’ll be posting a long-overdue essay about Singin’ in the Rain tomorrow, too. 😀

    1. Oh I didn’t know Kelly is your favorite movie star, wow! This is the only movie I have seen of his so far and I think he’s charismatic but he doesn’t exactly captured my heart 🙂 Great post btw, I did take a quick peek but boy that’s a super long tribute on him, well done!

    1. I still haven’t seen Fred Astaire’s dancing. The one movie I saw him in, it was a drama 😦 I do respect him a lot after reading that trivia about him helping Debbie Reynolds.

  4. Ted S.

    As you know I’m not a big musical fan but I did see this movie years ago back in grade school, it was my choir teacher who kept showing “classic” musicals to us. I remember enjoying it but don’t think I’ll watch it again.

    Speaking of seeing “classic” films on the big screen, I plan to go see Raiders of the Lost Ark on IMAX next month. Let me know if you and Ivan want to meet up and see it at Southdale.

  5. ughh I wish you hadn’t mentioned that about Gene Kelly 😦 I only knew that he was given an ingenue with zero dancing experience (which he was understandably not happy about) and told to make it work.

    The Fred Astaire story is sweet, but he already gets all the love and “best dancer of all time” respect. Gene Kelly has always been somewhat overlooked in that regard, which is sad because he had so much respect for the craft and worked so hard to make it popular and acceptable and attainable for the masses.

    Love me some Gene Kelly.

    1. Well I think I also read that Donald O’Connor didn’t like working with Kelly as he has a rep for being somewhat of a ‘tyrant.’ I can see that about him though, being a perfectionist.

      I thought both him and Fred Astaire are both respected as being the best dancers.

      1. They’re both thrown together in conversation as great old-timey dancers, but if you google “best dancers of all time” Fred Astaire regularly shows up; Gene, not so much. They just had very different styles. Maybe it’s easier to see the artistry in Astaire’s smooth moves than in Kelly’s athleticism?

  6. impsndcnma

    Easily one of my favorite movies of all-time. I missed the first theater showing of Singin’ in the Rain, but I ended up buying the Blu-ray recently and enjoyed that. I always thought Gene Kelly was one of the most talented actors alive since he could sing, dance, act, and direct. Not many performers can have that much to their name.

      1. impsndcnma

        I didn’t get the boxset. They take up a lot of room. There’s a single disc release at amazon for about 15$ and that’s the one I bought.

  7. So glad you loved the movie! I saw this on TCM’s first re-release in July, and I also got to see Casablanca. It’s so surreal seeing classic films on the big screen. I love the cast so much. And those dance numbers are unbelievable! The film was even better on the big screen, and when I update my top 100 list again, this is definitely going very near my top 10. 😀

    1. Glad that you got to see both this and Casablanca, well can’t imagine you’d miss out on the latter right? 😉 The dance numbers are astounding, I was breathless just watching them!

  8. I love this movie. I love love this movie. I love love love this movie. I love love love love this movie. I love love love love love this movie.

  9. jackdeth72

    Hi, Ruth and company:

    I still prefer Donald O’Connor’s ‘Make ’em Laugh’ to Gene Kelly’s ‘Singing in the Rain’. Even if Gene made it all look so effortless. You can’t top O’Connor’s wall flips, use of props and pratfalls.

    1. Oh me too!! I think O’Connor stole the scenes every time he came on and I love that ‘Made ’em Laugh’ segment, hence I put that clip on here.

  10. I very much enjoy this one! I’m glad you did too. I remember when I heard about Gene Kelly being sick during that scene, I was even more impressed.

    May I recommend that the next film you see of Gene Kelly be Brigadoon!

    1. It’s amazing what these actors went through isn’t it? Fever, bloody feet, carpet burns, etc. Talk about suffering for their art!

      Well I still have to see An American in Paris first 🙂

  11. Haven’t gathered the motivation to see the movie yet. I know… I should have but every time I stumble upon it on TCM, it’s already half-way through and I can’t get into it. Maybe, I will rent it via Netflix when I get tired of recent releases 😀

    1. Let me know what you think once you do Castor. Some of the romantic stuff is cheesy, but the dancing sequences are spectacular, can’t imagine anyone not enjoying those.

  12. I’m so glad you enjoyed this on the big screen – it’s one of my favourite films of all time and I’d love to see it on the big screen, but sadly not had the opportunity yet.

  13. Very cool, Ruth! I watched this with my girlfriend earlier this month and we both loved it, especially her. I’m not usually a musical guy, but this one really worked for me. I may or may not have a post on it lined up for this week. 😀

    1. Glad you liked this one Eric, esp as you’re not a fan of musicals. I’m curious to read your post on it so I’ll be checking that out.

  14. Pingback: Movie Project #36: Singin’ in the Rain [1952] | The Warning Sign

  15. Great flick. And a nice post, for certain, Ruth.

    I havent attended a TCM event. I should. My tv at home is pretty big, so I dont get all caught up in the whole “See it on the big screen” too much. Before I was blogging and needed to see things as they came out, I watched a LOT of movie at home for the first time.

    I feel your pain about the spoiler clips though, that sucks! They should fix that!

    1. Oh I think my TV is big enough for me too, but there is something special about seeing things on the big screen with the crowd, there’s something magical about that. I don’t go for every movie but this one seemed like it’d be worth it and it was!

  16. Pingback: Movie Project #36: Singin’ in the Rain [1952] | The Warning Sign

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