When the film industry evolved from silent movies to “talkies” with full-booming sound, many actors and actresses found themselves suddenly out of a job when their voices didn’t match well with the picture they’d been presenting.
Thosegrowing pains were exactly what inspired one of the most chipper musicals to ever greet us on the big screen,Singin’ in the Rain. With the handsome and multi-talented Gene Kelly at the helm, he not only starred as one of those former silent era stars trying to make their way into the new world of entertainment, but he co-directed and choreographed the dance routines, as well.
I bet just by reading the familiar movie title, you can see Genedancing and splashing around to the upbeat tune. However, you might not have realized just how much more was going on behind the scenes to make each of those delightful musical numbers so perfect and special and even sometimespainful for the actors.
Take a look below to see what was really going on during filming and be sure to let us know if we missed your favorite fact about the charming movie.
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Thumbnail sources: Pixabay, Flickr
1. Donald O’Connor Required A Break For Bed Rest
Gene Kelly asked Donaldto bring back a signature move from his younger days: Running up to a wall and doing a somersault. Though at this point he was smoking four packs a day, making the feat much more difficult, he agreed and ended up needing a week’s rest due to exhaustion and painful carpet burns.
His luck got worse again, though, when all of that initial footage was lost in an accident and he was obliged to do the whole thing all over again.
2. Debbie Reynolds Had To Be Carried Away From Set
After filming the complicatedchoreography for “Good Morning,” Debbie suffered burst blood vessels in her feet and needed to be carried to her dressing room to recover.
Ever the perfectionist, Genealso decided that her work wasn’t quite good enough and dubbed the sound of his own tapping over hers.
3. Debbie Sometimes Slept On Set
At just 19 years old, Debbiewas still living with her parents when she was cast as Gene’s leading lady and would commute from their home by leaving at 4:00 am and taking three different busses to the studio.
Occasionally, she would cut out the middle man by simply sleeping overnight on set.
4. Everyone Was Afraid Of Gene
Even Donaldadmitted that Gene’shyper-focus on perfection led to a tense time on set and that he was terrified of making even the smallest mistake during the first few weeks of filming and getting yelled at by the leading man.
Debbie bore more of Gene’s aggressive methods, saying years later that finishing this film and surviving childbirth were two of the hardest things she had ever done. However, she also said she learned a lot from him through the arduous process, too.
5. Gene Danced Through His Fever
Despite reportedly having a fever of 103degrees, Genewas just as tough on himself as the rest of the cast and was adamant that he run through a take of the “Singin’ in the Rain” sceneeven though the director kept insisting he go home to rest up.
Instead, Geneimprovised choreography on the spot that wound end up being what we see in the film.
6. Fred Astaire Taught Debbie To Persevere
Debbiewas trained as a gymnast, not a dancer, and Genewould drill her over and over again on the choreography. At one point, she was so fed up that she ran and hid under a piano.
That’s where Fredfound her crying and, after seeing how distressed she was, invited the young actress to watch him practice one of his own routines something he rarely allowed anyone to do. When she saw how much hard work it was for the master dancer, huffing and puffing away as he worked through the steps, she found the strength to carry on herself.
7. Gene Made Sure He Looked Tall
Specifically while dancing in scenes with Cyd Charisse, Genewould always plan the routine so that they were never standing upright next to each other since Cydwas slightly taller than himwhile wearing her heels.
Watch close and you’ll see they’re always bending toward each other rather than standing straight.
8. The Songs Came First
In fact, almost all of the songs had already previously been used in other films and were compiled for the movie before a single line of dialogue had been written.
Instead, the writers worked around the tunes to create a plot that could encompass each of them accordingly.
9. Debbie’s Voice Was Dubbed Too
Though Debbie’s character was supposedly recordingthe vocals to dub over Jean Hagan’s characterin the “Would You” montage, it’s actuallyBetty Noyes dubbing over Debbiewith her much deeper singing tone.
10. Censors Snipped The Ballet Scene
You might notice a sudden blip in the choreography during Geneand Cyd’s ballet where the film jumps over what was supposedly a moment the censors had warned Geneto keep out of his choreography Cydwrapping her legs around his waist.
Genedefended it as a move ballet dancers perform regularly, but it never made it to the final product.
11. The Original Film Negatives Are Lost
Decadesafter the film’s premiere, all of the original footage was lost to a fire at some point in the late 1970s, meaningwe will never know if any bloopers or extended scenes could have entertained us as special features on our home copies today.
Did we miss your favorite fact about the beloved musical film? Let us know below and be sure to SHARE with your friends!
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