Stereoactive Movie Club Ep 19 // Singin’ in the Rain

Directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, 'Singin' in the Rain' was only considered a modest hit at the time, but has become one the best loved musicals and movies of all time.

Stereoactive Movie Club Ep 19 // Singin’ in the Rain
Stereoactive Movie Club Round Three (Stephen's Pick)
Available on Goodpods, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and anywhere else you listen to podcasts.

It’s Stephen’s 3rd pick: ‘Singin’ in the Rain,’ the 1952 film directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen.

‘Singin’ in the Rain' was a product of MGM’s so-called “Freed Unit,” named for the person who headed it – Arthur Freed. Before this film, Freed worked on many of the best known musicals, both historically and of their respective days (The Wizard of Oz, Babes in Arms, Meet Me in St. Louis, Ziegfeld Follies, Easter Parade, On the Town, Annie Get Your Gun, Show Boat, An American In Paris). It was after working on ‘An American in Paris’ – which featured music by George Gershwin, and went on to win 7 Academy Awards (including Best Picture) while becoming one of the top 10 highest grossing films of 1951 – that Freed decided to put together another musical featuring pre-existing music by a specific songwriter… namely, himself, along with collaborator Nacio Herb Brown. The resulting film features tunes the duo wrote for previous MGM musicals. 

Screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green worked on the initial draft of the screenplay with Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen jumping in to collaborate on adjustments to the story once they were done with ‘American In Paris.’ Debbie Reynolds, who was not a dancer before the movie began production, had a particularly rough time making the picture, with Kelly being rough on her throughout and one extremely long day of shooting a dance number resulting in bloody feet. In 2003, she told the Saturday Evening Post that "Singin' in the Rain and childbirth were the two hardest things I ever had to do in my life." And the famed “Make ‘Em Laugh” sequence reportedly left heavy smoking Donald O’Connor recovering in a hospital bed for several days.

The film was considered only a modest hit at the time it was released, though it did receive strong reviews from many of the major critics of the day and it did rank as the 10th highest grossing film of 1952. Over the nearly 70 years since its release, ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ has arguably become one of the best loved movies of all time, especially as far as Hollywood movies go.

It was among the first batch of 25 films considered "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" that the Library of Congress recognized in 1989 for its National Film Registry.

For our purposes, the film first ranked in the top 10 of Sight and Sound Magazine’s critics’ survey of the best films of all time in 1982, att #3. It was then a runner up in 1992 and at #10 in 2002. And though it didn’t make the top 10 in 2012, it was included on the full list at #20, right behind Andrei Tarkovsky’s Mirror and just ahead of Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’avventura – both of which we’ve discussed in previous episodes of this podcast. Singin’ in the Rain also came in at #67 on the 2012 directors’ poll. Among the directors who voted for it were Francis Ford Coppola and Marc Webb.

For more information on this podcast, including where it's available, please visit the show's homepage.