Singin' In the Rain released
Singin' in the Rain, MGM's 1952 musical about the transition from silent movies to talkies proved not only to be a critical and commercial hit at the time, but went on to be named the best musical of all time. But film began as a bit of a vanity project. Arthur Freed, the producer who spearheaded MGM’s musicals from late 40s to the 50s, wanted to people to remember his musical talents as well as producing prowess. Throughout the 1920s, Freed had written lyrics for composer Nacio Herb Brown, their most famous work being a ditty called “Singin’ in the Rain.” Taking a cue from An American in Paris, in which Freed cobbled together a story around classic Gershwin songs, Freed hired Betty Comden and Adolph Green to write a comedy to showcase his and Brown’s musical legacy. The story about a film studio caught in the panic over the transition form silent to sound in 20s not only set the right period for the Brown/Freed melodies, but added a highly resonant plotline dealing with voices, recording and the power of music. The film’s production was filled with ironic touches, like the fact that Debbie Reynolds, who pretends to dub over the voice of the character Lina Lamont in the film, actually had her own voice dubbed over for several of her songs. But the pure joy of the film is infectious in each scene. And perhaps the most ironic and telling fact of the movie’s sequence of Gene Kelly “singing and dancing in the rain” was performed while Kelly deathly ill with a 103 degree fever. But even more remarkable, Kelly only performed the dance once, the dance that was seen and cherished by millions.