In Spring 2012, we'll welcome the musical classic Singin' in the Rain´s 60th Anniversary. The movie was first released March 27, 1952 in New York City. Several DVD collections have sprung up in recent years celebrating MGM's "Technicolor Musical Treasure." Although the film has not been transferred to Blu-ray format yet, there is a two-disc Special Edition (2002) highly recommendable (digitally restored to 1.33:1 fullscreen format with a pristine mono soundtrack), containing a PBS documentary on Arthur Freed, Musicals, Great Musicals and extracts from films which originated some of the dance numbers, such as The Broadway Melody (another film of that name was planned for 1942 with Gene Kelly and Eleanor Powell, but production was suddenly cancelled).
Based on a story penned by Adolph Green & Betty Comden, the original idea was to concoct a plausible story for the screen, integrating a vintage catalogue of songs composed by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed. MGM had hopes of reproducing a similar effect to the sensation caused the previous year by An American in Paris (a brilliant fusion of ballet and romance accompanied by George Gershwin's music) which had earned Gene Kelly an Honorary Oscar.
Singin' in the Rain would be the second and most triumphal collaboration of Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. They previously had directed On the Town (1949), an innovative musical filmed on real spots in New York considered by Kelly as his personal favorite.
Kelly and Donen had seen Debbie Reynolds sing "The Aba Daba Honeymoon" in the film Two Weeks with Love (1950). Kelly was so impressed by her innocence that he insisted Reynolds be cast to play Kathy Selden, the ingenue heroine in the Comden & Green story. Kelly had achieved his early fame with Judy Garland in For Me and My Gal (1942) directed by choreographer pioneer Busby Berkely. In Cover Girl (directed by Charles Vidor in 1944), Gene Kelly was paired with Rita Hayworth whom he embraced sensually under a terrific Jerome Kern-Ira Gershwin score. Some of the audacious numbers featured in Cover Girl were echoed in Singin' in the Rain, as in the case of "Make Way for Tomorrow" (a trio routine played to the hilt in the number "Good Morning", and with grimmer connotations in the final Kelly-Donen musical It’s Always Fair Weather in 1955).
Singin' in the Rain opens with movie stars Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen, nominated to an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for this key role) arriving to a premiere of a silent film in 1927 presented by the gossip queen Dora Bailey (based on real Louella Parsons). The plot revolves around the falsehoods behind a spectacular façade in Tinseltown, the magazines linking movie stars romantically to increase their popularity, and the trauma suffered by many silent actors who couldn't adapt to the talkies in the Pre-Code era.