With “Singin ‘in the Rain, Debbie Reynolds had her big breakthrough.”
One of the greatest hits of all time is the 1952 film musical starring Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor. Songs such as “Good Morning” and “Singin’ in the Rain” have become part of pop culture, and it has further cemented the position of the three stars as some of the Golden Age’s biggest movie stars.
The film starred Reynolds and Kelly playing romantic partners.
Their on-screen chemistry might lead some to believe the stars had a strong relationship off the stage, but that wasn’t quite the case, according to Reynolds.
In “Singin’ in the Rain.” Debbie Reynolds was just 18 when she starred.
Kelly co-directed the film with Stanley Donen, which Reynolds says in an interview with Turner Classic Movies kept him busy on set day in and day out.
He was tough because he was the producer, so he was worried about it all,” she said. “He was worried about the idea, the direction, the cinema, the lighting. All was on his back, because he had so much to do, so much transparency.
And he had no time to mess around on the set or joke around, so there was no silliness at all.
When she was selected by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to appear in the film, Reynolds was just 18 years old. After winning a beauty contest when she was 16, she landed a deal with the studio (That contract led to her meeting Elizabeth Taylor, who was also hired by MGM).
The 18-year-old Reynolds and 40-year-old Kelly were not similar, while Reynolds and Kelly played love interests in the movie.
“We were very different ages, so we didn’t have much in common,” said the late Reynolds.
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By his starring roles, Gene Kelly did not want to be defined.
Of course, she worked a lot with him. She was filming scenes with Kelly and O’Connor when Reynolds was not taught to dance for the film – scenes directed by Kelly.
They had it set up so that we were individually directed by Gene,” Reynolds told TCM. “And Stanley was mainly working on camera and with all the crew and stuff behind the scenes.
They both worked it all out with each other, and they became really close friends.
The same interview featured a clip of Kelly’s third and final companion, Patricia Ward, who has been maintaining the memory of his work for the years after Kelly’s death in 1996.
And in the clip, she revealed that Kelly did not want to be recognized for her famous dances, but as a creative artist.
Gene is often referred to as a triple threat to sing, dance and act, even though he never really wanted to be a singer,” she said. “And he definitely didn’t want to be a dancer. Acting was secondary to Gene, really. What he wanted to do, actually, was make.
And he just didn’t care to be in front of the camera. I suppose a lot of people think that was the case, but that wasn’t it.
“His interest was really in creating the dance and a particular interest in changing the look from dance to film,”His interest was really in creating the dance and a specific interest in changing the look from dance to film. “And I think if you were to ask him how he wanted to be remembered, it wouldn’t be for a particular film role, but really for doing that – for changing the look of dance on film.”