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The Truth and Lies of “Singing in the Rain” 70 Years After the Classics

The Truth and Lies of "Singing in the Rain" 70 Years After the Classics

One of the great classics of cinema, singing under the rain, becomes 70. And the widow of one of its protagonists, the unforgettable Gene Kelly, takes advantage of the anniversary to recount the “behind the scenes” curiosities of filming.

Patricia Ward Kelly She debunks some of the myths surrounding the film and its actors, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor, as well as her husband.

release in US cinemas 11 April 1952, singing under the rain It is already part of the great history of cinema, with a song that seems to have echoed in the collective unconscious of many generations.

Jean Kelly’s Widow Speaks

According to Ward, the film’s success and importance in popular culture did not cease to surprise all the characters themselves with the category of “Hollywood stars” and are now defunct. Kelly in 1996, O’Connor in 2003 and Reynolds in 2016.

“Jean always said that He never thought that people would remember the film so much many years later,” he explains. In fact, Kelly thought the movie that would go down in history was an American in Paris Which rocked the Oscars in 1951. sing under the rain, Which Kelly also co-directed did not win but became a classic.

Singing in the Rain, Starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor, Turns 70

Singing in the Rain, Starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor, Turns 70

After ten years of marriage, following the death of her husband, who was 47 years older than her, Ward devoted herself to dismantling some of the beliefs that haunted the film for decades. “My job is to debunk myths,” he says.

1-Rain was not filmed with drops of milk

One of the myths assures that the rain that fell on Kelly in the film’s main musical number, exactly when she was “singing in the rain”, was not water but milk. As legend has it, the concern was that the raindrops would not be visible on camera, so he added milk to the mixture to give the water the right glow.

That version is completely ridiculous.According to Ward who credits the unprecedented cinematography and lighting of the time “for the effect of the impeccable scene in which raindrops burst like crystals.”

“Jean always said that it was very difficult to illuminate the rain against the lights, and that’s why he had to do several takes because he could see some of the equipment reflecting in the window panes where it was filmed,” details the widow.

A milestone in musical cinema, "Singing in the Rain" was released on April 11, 1952.

A milestone in musical cinema, “Singing in the Rain” was released on April 11, 1952.

2-The choreography was not complicated

In the same scene, Kelly’s dance steps, splashing over puddles, were seemingly the result of intricate choreography that allowed her to come across as simple and ethereal.

“Jean wanted others to feel like they could imitate the steps. He made it accessible and what makes it so timeless is that people think they can go out in the rain and do that.” Huh.”

3-No one dances until their blood is shed

The film "Singing in the Rain" didn

The film “Singing in the Rain” didn’t win an Oscar but became a classic.

One anecdote that revolves around the film concerns the fact that the female lead, Debbie Reynolds, had no dancing experience when she was hired by the MGM production company. Apparently, this even upset and angered Gene Kelly who did not agree with the actress’s choice.

It was then that the actor, dancer and choreographer designed an intense training regimen For Reynolds who endured enormous physical and mental pressure. “My legs were bleeding so much and it was staining the floor,” the actress said in a 2013 interview. And when I told him about it, Jean was like, ‘Clean it up!’

However, Kelly’s widow denies that version of the actress. “Everything Debbie said about it was made up,” he says. “Jean said she never saw blood on the floor.” Ward also questioned Reynolds’ memories, saying that at times doctors had to treat him for leg injuries.

“If you check the production notes, you know exactly when he came in and out and when he had lunch. And if doctors are called to the set, it’s always noted. Never like that. Didn’t happen,” he says. And she goes on to say that her husband had no problem teaching Reynolds to dance, as he felt she was too good for the role, the talent needed for the story.

4-Gene Kelly Wasn’t Tired

Gene Kelly in "An American in Paris".  Photo: AFP.

Gene Kelly in “An American in Paris”. Photo: AFP.

Unlike Reynolds, Donald O’Connor had the dance experience to match Kelly. Despite the talents of both, the days of filming were exhausting But no one wanted to accept it.

As O’Connor later recalled, one day, after ten takes, Kelly stopped and walked into the dressing room. After some time he knocked on the door and Kelly was sleeping. “He was tired but he didn’t want to tell me.” According to Kelly’s widow, O’Connor exaggerated with anecdotes.

a turning point

like story singing under the rain Uniting the silent era with the introduction of the Hollywood sound stage, the film itself stands as a turning point where the golden age of film music gave way to a more complex period for the genre. And some speak of that moment as the beginning of the end of Kelly’s career, despite being the pinnacle.

The same actor acknowledges that significant changes were taking place in the film industry and in popular culture in general. “It was the beginning of television, there was Elvis Presley, The Beatles. Jean knew everything was changing,” says his wife.

Olivia Newton-John in "Xanadu", choreographed by Gene Kelly.

Olivia Newton-John in “Xanadu”, choreographed by Gene Kelly.

return to xanadu with Olivia Newton-John

It was then that Kelly chose to go behind the scenes and direct Barbra Streisand’s hit in 1969, Hello Dolly, Meanwhile, as an actor, he moved away from music and tried to do dramatic characters. “He wanted to do the other part, but he got typecast as the musical theater guy.”

twenty eight years later singing under the rainKelly made her final appearance in a film musical xanadu 1980, with Olivia Newton-John. But it was not a pleasant experience. Ward said of that film, “He said it was the only time no one knew what he was doing, there was no script and it was crazy for him to see people wasting their time and money.”

However thanks Xanadu, New generations were introduced to the genius of Gene Kelly. “I have to give him credit for that. And Jean loved Olivia. He choreographed her to make her look great, and she pulled it off.”

A Failed Experience With Madonna

The actor had another experience in his final years that didn’t work out, this time with a star like Madonna. The Queen of Pop was the one who called Kelly to choreograph some of the numbers for her tour girlie showin 1993.

A scene from Madonna

A scene from Madonna’s “The Girly Show”. Photo: AP

“I was so excited to do it,” recalls his widow. “I have number notes and little sketches. I was very happy working with the dancers.”

But this pairing did not work. Madonna and Gene Kelly did not get along, the collaboration between the cast was brief and tense and ultimately did not materialise. “I didn’t think she wanted an ally,” recalls Ward, “she didn’t really want what Jeanne offered her. She let him.”

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