Nothing speaks louder to the posterity of Singin' in the Rain than the silent movie winning this year's best picture Academy Award.
Similarities between the classic 1952 musical and The Artist are easy to spot, with mutual themes of silent film actors adjusting to talkies, and swooning tap dance romance. Oscar winner Jean Dujardin looked to Gene Kelly, among others, for inspiration. Director Michel Hazanavicius even modeled his star's apartment on the home of Debbie Reynolds' Singin' in the Rain character.
Sixty years from now, The Artist may get the same diamond anniversary treatment as Singin' in the Rain, re-released to select theaters Thursday only, with a deluxe 3-disc Blu-ray and DVD edition on the way.
Movie lovers won't be watching for the plot, cobbled together by Betty Comden and Adolph Green to accommodate songs already in MGM's library. Only one song — the playful Moses Supposes — is undeniably original, with Make 'Em Laugh bearing a close melodic resemblance to Cole Porter's Be a Clown.
None of that matters when Kelly sings the title song, swinging on a lamppost, drenched by rain and buoyed by love. Or when Donald O'Connor defies gravity, dancing literally off-the-wall in the Make 'Em Laugh sequence. Or when Kelly woos Reynolds with You Were Meant for Me. Classic moments from the prime example of Hollywood's golden age of musicals.
Gotta dance like Kelly and Cyd Charisse? First, take a fun look at Singin' in the Rain, by the numbers:
0 Number of Academy Awards won by Singin' in the Rain, after only two nominations, for supporting actress Jean Hagen and Lenny Hayton's musical score.
1 Singin' in the Rain's ranking on the American Film Institute's list of 25 greatest Hollywood musicals ever.
2 Number of weeks Singin' in the Rain's network television premiere broadcast was postponed in 1963. NBC had planned to show the movie on Nov. 23 but a day earlier president John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and a breezy musical comedy didn't seem appropriate.
2 Number of dancers (Gwen Verdon, Carol Haney) who dubbed Gene Kelly's tap sounds during the classic title number. The women stood ankle-deep in water to synch their tapping sounds with Kelly's hoofing on screen.
4 Packs of cigarettes Donald O'Connor smoked daily when he performed the strenuous Make 'Em Laugh number. O'Connor was bedridden with exhaustion for a week before re-filming the entire scene after the original footage was accidentally ruined.
5 Number of times the song Singin' in the Rain was performed in movies before Gene Kelly's version. Other earlier performers included Cliff "Ukelele Ike" Edwards and a chorus of MGM stars in The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (with a clip shown a decade later in Babes in Arms), Jimmy Durante in Speak Easily, Judy Garland in Little Nellie Kelly and the oddest, William Bendix as the Sultan of Swat in The Babe Ruth Story.
7 Number of days needed to film Kelly's famous title song-and-dance, on a backlot street two blocks long, with six hours of fake rain each day.
19Debbie Reynolds' age when romantically co-starring with Kelly, who was twice her age.
2,540,800 Dollars spent in 1951 to produce Singin' in the Rain. With inflation, the total would be nearly $23 million today.
Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365.
Information from the Internet Movie Database and Moviefone.com were used in this report.