Tag Archives: Singin’ In The Rain

‘Singin’ in the Rain’ was first stop in Debbie Reynolds’ unsinkable career

Posted by Larry GleesonBy Sharon Eberson / Pittsburgh Post-GazetteUnfolding memories of all that Debbie Reynolds brought to the stage, screen and celebrity fascination of our lives would read like a chronicle of Hollywood history, starting in 1952. That’s when a 19-year-old went toe-to-toe with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in “Singin’ in the Rain,” the American Film Institute’s No. 1 movie musical of all time.Ms. Reynolds died Wednesday at 84, just one day after the death of her daughter, actress, writer and mental health activist Carrie Fisher.

In recent years, Ms. Reynolds appeared on screen mostly as matriarchs, with Albert Brooks in the title role of the 1996 film “Mother” and as Debra Messing’s mom in the sitcom “Will & Grace.” She also provided the voice of the nurturing spider in “Charlotte’s Web,” Nana Possible in the animated TV series “Kim Possible” and Lulu Pickles for “Rugrats.”

The 1973 Broadway musical “Irene” earned her a leading actress Tony nomination and her lone Academy Award nomination was for her favorite role — “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” Earlier this year, Ms. Reynolds was honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Oscars ceremony.

Ms. Reynolds gave us many more memories in seven decades as a public figure, but if she had done nothing else in her career, she would still be remembered simply for being in “Singin’ in the Rain,” Mark Olsen wrote in his Los Angeles Times appreciation.

The actress had four credited movie roles when she was cast opposite Mr. Kelly, a Pittsburgh native, and Mr. O’Connor.

“She noted at the British Film Institute in 2011: ‘I wasn’t sexy, I wasn’t beautiful, I wasn’t cute and I couldn’t dance. Why would they take me?’

“One only has to see her pop out of a cake to dance and sing to ‘All I Do Is Dream of You’ to answer the question. Her exuberance, the sheer attack with which she approached the part, made her undeniable,” Mr. Olsen writes.

“You know, I was so dumb,” she said to the American Film Institute in 2012, “that I didn’t feel you could fail.”

Mr. Kelly’s widow, Patricia Ward Kelly, on Thursday told BBC Radio that Ms. Reynolds, Mr. Kelly and Mr. O’Connor “are like comets that flash through the air once in a lifetime. And we are ever so grateful.”

On Facebook, Mrs. Kelly debunked what she called “a tall tale” about Ms. Reynolds as a young dancer. She quoted NPR’s Neda Ulaby as saying Ms. Reynolds “had studied gymnastics, but for the movie, she practiced tap dancing for up to 14 hours at a time.”

Mrs. Kelly said production records are very clear on the subject. For example, “on April 25, 1951, the report indicates that Gene arrived on set at 10 a.m., had one meal and departed at 5:15 p.m. ‘Debbie Reynolds same.’” She also notes, as Ms. Reynolds has said, that her rehearsal time was three months, “which says a lot about Debbie and the remarkable assistants who taught her to dance.”

There has been much speculation about the cause of the seemingly unsinkable Ms. Reynolds’ death. The entertainer suffered two strokes in 2015 but seemed to make a full recovery.

No cause of death has been disclosed for mother or daughter, but some are blaming Ms. Reynolds’ passing on broken heart syndrome, known medically as stress-induced cardiomyopathy. In the scant space between her daughter’s death and her own, Ms. Reynolds told her son, Todd Fisher, ‘I want to be with Carrie,’” according to the Associated Press.

“A ‘broken heart’ really is an event where the heart ceases to function normally and is prone to heart rhythm abnormalities,” Dr. Mark Creager, past president of the American Heart Association, told the AP. “That term is used to explain a very real phenomenon that does occur in patients who have been exposed to sudden emotional stress or extremely devastating circumstances.”

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The documentary “Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds” will premiere at 8 p.m. Jan. 7 on HBO. The film chronicling the sometimes rocky mother-daughter relationship was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in May and was originally set to air on HBO in March.

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The Hollywood Reporter called it “a tender tribute to two iconic women whose Hollywood history spans from ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ through ‘Star Wars’ and whose intimate connection is no less singular.”

In the meantime, viewings of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” and “Singin’ in the Rain” would seem to be in order.

(Source:post-gazette.com)

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FILM CAPSULE: Singin’ In The Rain (Donen, Kelly, 1952): USA

Viewed during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Reviewed by Larry Gleeson.

Singin’ In The Rain, is a Hollywood gem created under auspicious beginnings as the writers, Green and Comden, pushed themselves through the night to come up with a musical recycling some of the great tunes of yesteryear. One can’t help but wonder!

singin-in-the-rain-7438_1The musical film contains toe-tapping tunes and choreographed dancing that are a pleasure to experience. The version I watched was in color and the colors were vivid and bright and complemented the tone of the film.

In addition, the musical had a significant industry milestone contained within as the transition from silent to talkies was showcased in a lighthearted, laughable, and fun manner as we see a camera hidden in a phone booth, a microphone placed in flower pot and the outcomes of such attempts as preview audiences laugh and guffaw at the attempts to synchronize and balance the recorded voices.

Even the film’s climax brings laughter as the audience witnesses platinum blondesingin-in-the-rain-ending bombshell, Lina Lamont, played to a tee by Jean Hagen, a prim a-donna of the worst sort, who has connived, bullied and blackmailed co-stars and executives alike in making her way to the top, being brought down as the curtain is raised showcasing a new rising star, Kathy, played by the effervescent Debbie Reynolds. The audience sees Kathy singing and Lamont’s contemptuous attempt at lip synching. When confronted Lamont speaks and the audience roars with laughter at her high-pitched Brooklyn accent.

The theme of contempt isn’t just introduced at the end. It’s evident from the opening as Don, played by Gene Kelly, overwhelms a reporter as he details his rise to stardom with his partner Cosmo, played by Donald O’Connor, with “Dignity. Always Dignity.” Yet, the truth is the two struggled and scraped and clawed their way to the top working in pool halls, slapstick vaudeville sketches and even burlesque. Not one to be left out, Kathy gets in on the contempt as she tells Don she’s a serious actor and then we see her jumping out of a birthday cake.

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Meanwhile the studio is sending out press releases stating Don and Lina are a romantic couple. Hilarity ensues as Lina believes the press releases and is in hot pursuit of her man Don. And, studio executive Simpson, played by Millard Mitchell insists talkies will never catch on. Most everything gets turned this side of Tuesday as Don and Kathy become romantically involved, Lina finally gets what’s coming to her (although one can’t help but sympathize with such a nitwit), talkies catch on and sound get synchronized onto the film as it’s shot, and the project is a success.

Definitely a feel-good film from start to finish. I highly recommend this film the any cinephile as it’s a Hollywood treasure in respect to the industry at large and also because of the superb dancing and singing performances. Furthermore, I strongly encourage  those interested viewers to watch this film on the big screen as it’s characters are larger than life.