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Dirs: Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen
Writers: Adolph Green, Betty Comden
Released in 1952
Summary by Helen Sherlock
Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are two of Hollywood’s biggest silent film stars at the premiere of their most recent picture ‘The Royal Rascal’. In a speech to the audience, Don tells his exaggerated life story contradicting with flashbacks, which instead show his humble beginnings as a song and dance man with his best friend and fellow performer Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor), then a stunt performer and finally a leading man. Don can barely stand his leading lady Lina Lamont, but to increase popularity, the studio tells press the romance is real. Lina also believes the romance to be real, despite Don’s repeated objections.
To escape his adoring fans at the premiere, Don jumps into a passing car where he meets Kathy Seldon (Debbie Reynolds), who ridicules his career, whilst proclaiming herself a ‘dignified’ actress of the stage.
Don heads to studio head R.F. Simpson’s (Millard Mitchell) house where there is a premiere celebration party. A huge cake is wheeled in and to Don’s surprise and Kathy’s chagrin, Kathy pops out of the cake. She is a chorus girl providing the entertainment at the party. After her performance Don teases Kathy and irritated, she throws a cake at him, which instead hits Lina in the face.
After the great success of ‘The Jazz Singer’ the first ‘talkie’ picture, R.F. decides to shoot the next Lockwood-Lamont movie (‘The Duelling Cavalier’) as a talkie. Don is still trying to find Kathy, and he discovers that Lina was responsible for getting Kathy fired because she was jealous of Don’s interest in Kathy. Don later finds Kathy working on another studio production and she confesses she has always been a big fan. The two begin to fall in love.
The production of ‘The Duelling Cavalier’ is plagued with recording problems and although both Lina and Don receive diction lessons, Lina’s squeaky high-pitched southern dialect remains. The premiere is met with widespread hilarity over Lina’s voice, the unimaginative dialogue and the malfunction of the sound and film equipment.
Too much money has been spent on the production already. After staying up all night, Kathy has the idea to turn ‘The Duelling Cavalier’ into a musical. The next day they describe the concept to R.F. (complete with a lavish modern dance piece featuring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse). As a solution, it’s suggested that the movie is redubbed using Kathy’s voice instead of Lina’s. Lina is furious, especially when she learns that the studio intend to credit Kathy for the voiceover. She tells the press her voice was used and demands that R.F. use Kathy for future voiceovers – and nothing else. After she tells them she can sue them for defamation, R.F. reluctantly agrees to her demands.
At the movie premiere, Lina takes to the microphone to thank her fans and immediately arouses suspicion from the audience over her voice. A fan then tells her to cut the chatter and sing. Panicked, she races back to R.F. Don, Cosmo and Kathy. Don and R.F. order Kathy to sing for Lina behind the curtain. As Lina is miming to the song, R.F. Don and Cosmo pull up the curtain to reveal Kathy singing. Mortified, Lina runs off stage and Kathy tries to run from the theatre. Don shouts to the theatre that the girl trying to run out is the real voice and star behind the film. After Don starts singing to her, Kathy turns around and goes back to Don. The final frames zoom out to show a billboard of ‘Singing in the Rain’ starring Don Lockwood and Kathy Seldon.
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