Singin' in the Rain: The Making of an American Masterpiece

    by Earl J. Hess and Pratibha A. Dabholkar


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"Loving and appreciative, researched to a fare-thee-well, and pitched to both fans and first-time viewers of Singin’ in the Rain, this delightful book delivers almost as much fun as the film itself." --Jeanine Basinger, author of American Cinema: 100 Years of Filmmaking

"Very much in the vein of Aljean Harmetz’s classic works on The Wizard of Oz  and Casablanca, Hess and Dabholkar’s study should become the last word on its subject. Based on research that is both broad and deep, the authors effectively organize and clearly present an enormous amount of valuable information. Their book is as readable as anything I have picked up in recent years, a bonafide page-turner that will be welcome to general readers and academics alike." --Rick Altman, author of The American Film Musical

"Supersedes anything else previously published on Singin’ in the Rain, since it includes up-to-date information on everything from the DVD release to the 50-year anniversary celebrations and the career summaries of even the most marginal player and crew member. Reflecting a film-lover’s attention to detail, the authors’ exhaustive research and abiding admiration for this movie convey an enthusiasm that is persuasive and hard to resist.” --John C. Tibbetts, author of The American Theatrical Film

"Singin' in the Rain is a veritable tsunami of information about the film that shares its name, and is captivatingly presented and flawlessly executed. …Richly annotated, this body of research is a heaven-sent scholarly resource for both student and professor while remaining quite approachable for the casual reader." --Edward R. Schmidtke, Hiram College, in Film and History.

    Acclaimed as the best movie musical ever made, Singin’ in the Rain has achieved the status of an American masterpiece since it was released in 1952. A classic production of the famed Arthur Freed Unit at M-G-M, the movie was co-directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. Donald O’Connor co-starred in the best role of his life, while Debbie Reynolds and Cyd Charisse performed the breakthrough roles of their careers. Betty Comden and Adolph Green wrote the witty, sardonic screenplay that spoofs Hollywood when it was learning how to talk. Some 236 people—stars, supporting cast, bit players, and technical crew—participated in the making of this classic movie musical. But towering above them all, Gene Kelly not only co-directed and performed the role of the male lead, but also choreographed the stunning dances that, along with the plot and wonderful acting, made Singin’ in the Rain into a masterpiece.


    This book tells the fascinating story of the making of Singin’ in the Rain—including its inception, the development of the plot and characters, pre-production planning, and the filming of the dances. It details how the movie was marketed, how it was received by audiences and critics, and its legacy over the course of 50 years. Censorship troubles, script revisions, details of the rehearsals, and problems in filming are revealed to create a complete behind-the-scenes portrait.


    Based on definitive research in all manner of sources, the book draws on published memoirs, interviews published in journals and books and posted on the internet, archival sources, the latest DVD issues along with interviews and commentary contained in those issues. It re-assesses the role of Gene Kelly as the major player, not only as actor, but as choreographer, co-director, and chief creative influence in making Singin’ in the Rain.


    Positioned to appeal to a wide audience, the book employs a strong, easily accessible narrative style and emphasizes the human interest behind the making of the film. A full description of M-G-M’s making and marketing of this movie complements biographical information on everyone involved, from Gene Kelly down to the most obscure bit player, in making this film the ultimate product of the M-G-M studio system. Singin’ in the Rain has captured the imagination of film scholars as well as succeeding generations of moviegoers for more than half a century. This book tells the definitive story of how this musical masterpiece came about.



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University Press of Kansas

2501 West 15th Street

Lawrence, KS 66049



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