With his charm, good looks and undeniable talent, he took dance from being seen as something for “sissies” to putting it on par with sports as an expression of skill and athleticism for men.
His crowning achievement — and often considered the most popular and admired musical of all time — was 1952’s Singin’ in the Rain.
Enjoy this clip of him performing the title song, and marvel at the fact that although he was suffering from a 103° F fever at the time, he still managed this unforgettable performance. – AJW
Hit tunes from old films revived in new musical with Gene Kelly and title of “Singin’ In The Rain'”
From the Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) March 30, 1952
THERE’S been a lot of music written directly for the screen since the movies found a voice. Some of it has been rather catchy, so much so that people, even today, whistle or hum some of the older tunes.
One of the biggest hit tunes for movies was “Singin’ In The Rain” which Cliff Edwards — affectionately called Ukulele Ike, because he always accompanied himself with a ukulele — introduced with appropriate scenic effects in “Hollywood Revue of 1929.”
This very popular number is being revived in a new Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Technicolor musical starring Gene Kelly. The title of the song is given to the picture.
When Edwards first sang “Singin’ In The Rain,” he wore a slicker and rain hat and stood in arid splendor on a set devised to simulate a fair-sized cloudburst.
The new version
Very different, if one may take the press agent’s word for it, is the 1952 Gene Kelly version. Kelly, armed with an umbrella, performs his “Singin’ In The Rain” number with gallons of actual water cascading down on him.
Kelly is said to splash merrily in the gutters, on the wet sidewalk, up and down dripping steps, and window, and up on a lamppost. He carries an umbrella with him, but for some unaccountable reason doesn’t use it.
There were also some very unusual numbers in the original ”Broadway Melody,” including the ballad that gave this film its title in 1929.
MORE: What made vintage actor, singer & dancer Gene Kelly so special
There were, in addition, “The Wedding of The Painted Doll,” and “You Were Meant For Me.” Charles King sang this latter number by Arthur Freed-Nacio Herb Brown with Anita Page and Bessie Love looking on admiringly
In the new version, restaged for “Singin’ In The Rain,” it is given to Kelly and Debbie Reynolds. King, Anita Page and Bessie Love also were in “The Wedding of The Painted Doll” number which was considered a lavish number in those days.
The “dolls” in the Kelly version are now wooden-soldier types. “Singin’ In The Rain” also has borrowed some of the hit tunes from other films from the M.-G.-M fold.
“All I Do Is Dream of You,” which was originally sung by Gene Raymond to Joan Crawford in “Sadie McKee” back in the summer of 1934 is one. At that time, the song was a slow foxtrot, in ballad style.
ALSO SEE: Look inside Gene Kelly’s house from 1950 for some simple vintage celebrity style
Debbie Reynolds has the song in its new form in “Singin’ In The Rain,” and she does it in a fast-moving. jazzy fashion, reminiscent of the 1927 vogue in music.
From “San Francisco” “Singin’ In The Rain” has borrowed “Would You?,” a song hit of 1936. Jeanette MacDonald, as a Barbary Coast songstress, was auditioning for Clark Gable when she introduced this number as the late Ted Healy looked on.
“Stage Mother,” starring Alice Brady, Maureen O’Sullivan and Franchot Tone, provided “Beautiful Girl” as its contribution to “Singin’ In The Rain.”
Two other numbers
From the revised version of “Broadway Melody” done in 1936, with Robert Taylor and June Knight starred, M.-G.-M has taken “Lucky Star.” From the same show, the new film has taken “Broadway Rhythm,” which Eleanor Powell did with a platoon of top-hatted chorus boys.
No matter how “Singin’ In The Rain” turns out, it is very evident that it will be tuneful, in part at least, for the music titles mentioned above are of some of the best numbers composed directly for motion pictures.
In fact, there are few films so well remembered as the first “Broadway Melody,” originally advertised as a motion picture synchronized with sound.
ALSO SEE: See Fred Astaire Puttin’ On The Ritz in the Irving Berlin 1946 musical movie ‘Blue Skies’
Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain (song video)