Why the Biggest Myth About ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ Is ‘Almost Everything You Read on the Internet’ (Video)

·3-min read
Why the Biggest Myth About ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ Is ‘Almost Everything You Read on the Internet’ (Video)

The 1952 classic “Singin’ in the Rain” is hailed by many as one of the greatest films ever made. And yet it has also become the subject of countless myths regarding its production over the past 70 years.

During a press day for the film’s 4K UHD release, TheWrap asked Patricia Ward Kelly, Gene Kelly’s wife and biographer, what was the biggest myth she could dispel about “Singin’ in the Rain” and she was candid: “Almost everything that you read on the internet.”

Kelly, who is also curator of the Gene Kelly archives, is baffled by the amount of misinformation about the film that continues to perpetuate online. “There’s more mythology out there now than there is factual information about it, and the myths seem to just keep perpetuating. I’ll bust a myth and then somebody will say, ‘Oh that’s not true,’ even though I’ve just quoted Gene and the day he said it to me and then I have the production note corresponding to that to corroborate it. It’s really strange that people are so addicted to these myths that I don’t think are that interesting.”

Not only are these myths rampant, but the truth behind the making of “Singin’ in the Rain” is actually far more interesting than the legend that’s been built up. “When they say that you put milk in the water so you can see the raindrops, well to me it’s really much more interesting to think of how you backlight raindrops so you can see them,” Kelly said of the iconic sequence in which Kelly sings and dances to “Singin’ in the Rain.”

“I always use the example that you’re at a stadium watching a sports event and if it starts to rain, you’re looking down at the ground and you don’t see the rain, but then you tilt your head up and you see the rain against the stadium lights. That’s what they had to do. The challenge was they had to do it as Gene’s dancing in front of plate-glass windows, so how do you backlight rain and not show the equipment in the glass? When I looked at the production notes, several things had to be redone because it would say ‘equipment shown in glass’ and things.”

The film was a major moment for Kelly, who was coming off a Best Picture Oscar win for “An American in Paris” and was ready to formally take on the mantle of director and choreographer in addition to being the star of “Singin’ in the Rain.”

He worked closely alongside Stanley Donen, who co-directed and co-choreographed the film.

“He knew that the best way to control your own work and what you were creating was to be the choreographer and the director,” Patricia Ward Kelly said. “That if you wanted to control how your numbers were shot, then you had to be the director, you had to be behind the camera.”

Gene Kelly was determined to show how the camera could be used to capture the art of dance, something he felt hadn’t really occurred yet in Hollywood. “He felt that no one had really figured out how to use the camera to capture dance,” Patricia Ward Kelly explained. “Busby Berkeley, he’d worked with for ‘Me and My Gal’ and Busby Berkeley was experimenting with different camera angles, but he didn’t really care about dance, it could be 100 violins. And Gene was trying to figure out — how do you take this three-dimensional art form, and when it goes onto film you lose that third dimension. So how do you make dance three-dimensional?”

During our conversation, Patricia Ward Kelly also discussed the challenges Gene Kelly faced while making “Singin’ in the Rain” and why he felt so strongly about being a director.

You can watch our full interview in the video above.

“Singin’ in the Rain” is now available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

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