Singin' in the Rain: Raining on a New Generation (2012) - full transcript

21st century choreographers, dancers and film historians discuss the significance of Singin' in the Rain (1952) to their art form.

Gotta dance

Singin' in the Rain invented the wheel.

Like, it really just kind of put a new spin
on how musicals on film were done.

SHUM: This was the one that
definitely made me feel...

that you can blend
every dance style together...

and it just influenced me
and inspired me to do things...

outside of what I was doing,
as far as hip-hop goes.

Because of Gene Kelly,
I know that every step I choreograph...

has to have a purpose.

Those dream sequences...

those ballets were, you know,
the origins of music videos.

They were fantasies.

We, as artists in this time...

stand on the shoulders of giants
who came before us.

I think the magic
that Gene Kelly possessed...

was the ability to make something
so difficult look so effortless.

Singin' in the Rain, still, to this day...

has such heavy influence
on young, budding choreographers...

established choreographers, dancers.

It's like going to school.

Gotta dance


The first time I saw Singin' in the Rain
was in my meemaw's room...

at my aunt's house. Ha-ha-ha.

My grandmother
was a huge musical fan.

Feel like dancin' down the street

And I grew up dancing.

So Singin' in the Rain sort of combined,
not only a dancing element...

but sort of brought
that fantasy world...

and it was so much color.

And just the sheer energy, I think,
translates to such a young person.

[SINGING] Singin' in the rain
Just singin'...

First time I saw the film...

it's a great memory.
My parents were interested.

The neighborhood liked it. Everybody
was excited it was on television.

With a happy refrain

I always knew since I was a kid...

that I loved this way of expressing
one's self through song and musicals.

I didn't much like
the traditional musical...

because I liked things
that were a little more daring than that.

Then here comes
a traditional musical...

and it felt contemporary.
And it still feels contemporary now.

They were breaking ground
without even knowing it.

First time I saw Singin' in the Rain...

it's hard to remember, I was young.
I started dancing at 2 years old.

Tap and ballet.
And at my dance studio...

we ended up doing a tap number
to Singin' in the Rain.

Of course, at the time, I didn't know
what the reference was to.

I just heard the music
and we were dancing and...

my parents,
they actually introduced me to the film...

which was my first introduction
to Gene Kelly.

I just saw dancing,
and that was all I needed to see.

I was 18 in high school.

And it was like the most amazing
piece of art...

that I've ever seen.
I had just started dancing.

And it totally inspired me
to move that way, in that fashion.

I was a tap dancer.
I wanted to tap at 10 years old.

I liked Paula Abdul and
she was doing a lot of tap dancing...

in her performances.

So as soon as I got in a tap class,
my grandmother rented me the video.

I just watched it over and over and I...
You know, I didn't really grasp the film.

I was more in tune
with the dance numbers.

As a little 10-year-old kid...

all wanted to see
was the singing and the dancing.

It's a very fond memory.

It's probably
one of my first vivid memories.

I was all of 4 years old.

I remember sitting on the carpet...

and my mom and dad
said I was so fixated...

that at one point,
after I saw him dance...

I went and kissed the television set...

and I said, "That's my dad."

And my father said,
"Excuse me, Paula."

And I turned around, and he said:

"I'm your father.
That can be your TV dad.”

I was starstruck

And I blame Gene Kelly...

for me falling in love with him
and the art of MGM musicals.

You are

My lucky star

- Why don't you?
- What?

- Make a musical.
- A musical?

Good mornin'

-Good mornin'
-We've talked the whole night through

-Good mornin'
BOTH: Good mornin' to you

Good mornin'...

I just still study it.

When I travel, I'll be watching
"Moses Supposes" and "Good Morning."

Just to study the... Just the...

The craft of choreography
is so brilliant.

ALL [SINGING]: Might be just as zippy
If we was in Mississippi

KLAPOW: They take you on a ride.
"Good Morning" takes you on a ride.

It takes you on a journey
from room to room to room.

You don't think about it, but you feel it.
You ride with it.

So say good mornin'

Good mornin'

It looks so easy, but the truth is,
we all know the only way you can do that...

is work, work, work.
These people worked.

I mean, I know Debbie Reynolds' feet
were bleeding...

by the end of "Good Morning."
I know that.

Donald O'Connor never worked so hard
to keep up with Gene Kelly.

He was really hard.

He was a very tough choreographer
in that way.

But it looks effortless...

because it's in their bones,
it's in their blood.

They're dancing, not thinking,
"what's the next step” or anything.

It's there. So now it's just about
being on the money...

and bringing life to it in the moment.

It doesn't surprise me,
the two directors...

Donen and Kelly,
were also the choreographers.

It's so intricately woven...

that there's a real
director-choreographer eye there.

Gene and Stanley Donen,
who both received credit...

met all the time and they discussed
what they were going to do.

Stanley, a lot of the time,
was behind the camera...

and would know and tell Gene...
This is before the days of Tape/Assist.

Tell Gene that it was okay.

The take was okay, rather than,
"Let's do another for protection.”

SHANKMAN: Once upon a time,
when they were making musicals...

you would have months
to rehearse the dance numbers...

And production would even stop...

for a length of time to rehearse.

And I think what's great about that process
is it's sort of a hybrid of theater and film.

And it forces everybody
to be on the same page...

because you're in the same room
working on the same movie.

You see how long the takes are
and there's something thrilling about that.

Both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly...

because of their talent...

and their demands of themselves,
the director wanted to show...

they were the real deal,
could dance the whole time.

There was no reason to cut.

That doesn't exist today.

If you go to any music video shoot,
you never do it all the way through.

It's just exhausting.

SHANKMAN: Now I would much rather do
long takes...

but because you don't have
that length of rehearsal time...

where you get to perfect long takes
that they used to do back then...

you actually need the edit
to get out of the mistakes...

that are invariably gonna be made.

What's this wire doing here?
It's dangerous.


Using all of these practical objects
as props...

that are just integrated
into the movie...

you don't realize this is not easy
to work with props.

Like, it's just not at all.

SHANKMAN: Both Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire
were just die-hards...

about using anything to dance with.

There was nothing that was not there
to be danced with.

And so in "Good Morning"...

of course, Gene Kelly used
everything in the house that he could...

that will inform the character
and how the character is feeling.

That's what's so important about it.

They were kids playing,
so that house became their playground.

That's not easy dancing.

That takes everything.

That takes... Even when you feel
like you've pushed it to the max...

you've pushed it way past your limit...

you have to give
a hundred and 10 percent more.

And that ending number with the white,
you know, flowy scarf...

you don't realize
that that is a nightmare to deal with.

Material that has a mind of its own...

and fans and things,
and so much can go wrong...

it's perfectly executed.

How did they do these things?

It's just what they did, you know?

And that's what their talent was.
And that was what their contribution was...

and that's why we're all, you know,
trying to chase the genius that was them.

- We made it!
- It's a miracle!

It's great, Don.

One of the great powers of the old musical,
one of the great joys...

Is that the performers
really were exposed.

That is that they had to be photographed
head to toe...

actually carrying, as an ensemble,
the weight of the story.

[SINGS] When the band began to play
The stars were shining bright

ROONEY: That was Debbie Reynolds'
first starring role in a musical.

[SINGING] So good mornin'
Good mornin'

No dancing in her background.

Just a gymnast.
Flip-flip here, flip-flip there.

And then you have Gene Kelly,
the master of dance...

guiding you, training you.

BEHLMER: And Kelly said
she was as strong as an ox.

And I guess she had tenacity, heh...

because the drills
that they put her through...

and the rehearsals with Ernie Flatt,
the tap man...

and with Jeanne Coyne,
Gene's assistant...

it must've been grueling.

How much did she put into herself
and into her work to get to that level?

It's so inspiring.

She did say in later life, I remember...

that doing that film and giving birth...

were the two hardest things
she'd ever done in her life.

When you're shooting
dance numbers...

anything and everything will go wrong.
Ha, ha.

And then in the cake dance sequence,
my favorite shot is...

they cut to one shot...

but Debbie has a streamer
over her face...

which is probably not planned on.

But she's still going for it
like it's not even there.

And then just a simple like:

And, like, her eyes roll. It's genius.

It's the perfect moment.

And I think that is a testimony...

to filmmaking at that moment in time,
which was...

find the great mistakes and use that...

and it doesn't have to be this glossy,
you know, packaged performance.

Make it real, make it a little gritty.

Yeah, it's on your face, but she's still
there, and you're just... You're loving it.

She also has a real tomboy energy.

So it's... Her and the boys
are like a perfect match.

Debbie Reynolds still
has a tomboy energy...

because she's a dame, you know?

And when one of those kinds of ladies
plays with the boys...

you get something really, really fun.

That's why "Good Morning" works
so beautifully.

[SINGING] Good mornin', good mornin'
We've gabbed the whole night through

Good mornin' Good mornin' to you

I think Debbie did an amazing job...

because the end product
was the best thing...

that I've ever seen a non-dancer
do in a musical.

One thing great
about Debbie Reynolds...

There's a number in the sound stage...

she and Gene Kelly are dancing
and they're sort of waltzing around...

and he picks her up and it's so gentle.

But if you watch...

just to show you
that technical background...

she wraps around
and then she barely flexes...

just to hold herself up ever so softly.

And it just takes all the weight
off of him...

and she's there,
and she looks like a floating angel.

That's why that works,
is because she's trained in her body...

but yet, from an audience perspective,
you're only watching their connection.

There's a lot of subtle moments
that if you do not have extreme training...

it won't work.

It would've
have to have been chopped up...

and, you know, "Go tight."
Because this looks crazy.

She's machinegun armed, you know,
just wanting to hold herself up.

And I'm sure Debbie Reynolds,
to this day, is thanking Gene...

from the bottom of her heart.

Both Dick and I thought,
seeing it again...

that Debbie Reynolds was delectable.

I got no glory. I got no fame.
I got no mansions.

I got no money. But I've got...

- What have I got?
- I don't know.

I gotta get out of here.

Donald O'Connor was an extraordinarily
talented young man.

He had been in films since 1938,
when he was a child.

He'd come out of vaudeville,
and he was a dancer...

but he was a natural.

So Kelly and Donen thought
he would be fine.

You know, at first, I'm sure Gene Kelly
and Donald O'Connor both wondered:

"I wonder if we can work well together,
I wonder if the compatibility is there."

"Come rain, come shine, come snow,
come sleet. The show must go on."


BLEU: The thing I love about
Donald O'Connor's character in this film...

he attacks everything he does
in this movie.

[SINGS] Positively, no
Decidedly, no

With just unbounding energy. Ha, ha.

I think, really, that's the thing that's
so impressive about his performance...

Is just this energy
that is unattainable.

He was sensational because now
he had a chance to really do something...

and he didn't have
this kind of opportunity...

in many of the other films.

My dad said, "Be an actor, my son

But be a comical one”

They'll be standin' in lines

For those old honky-tonk monkeyshines

SHUM: Almost look like he was freestyling,
in a sense of:

"I'm gonna go over here, do this...

I'm gonna feel what comes naturally."

And that's what makes all these
SO special.

Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds,
Gene Kelly...

just dancing up and down the stairs
like it's nothing.

It's so fast and it's so intricate.

I will pause that
and I'll play it over and over...

and try and figure out
how they did it and rehearsed it.

Because it's brilliant
how they got that shot...

and how they nailed it perfectly
in unison, the three of them.

WOODLEE: It's the most amazing feeling
where they can trust each other's stride...

and they're rehearsed enough
to where they know where the next step is.

It's so amazing
to be in a group of performers...

that you're at sort of an equal parallel
as far as, like, your talent.

And you know that this guy is good
and you know that this guy is good.

So I'm gonna be great.
Like, it's so great to watch.

Singin' in the Rain, this was a big number
for Donald O'Connor.

Suddenly, he's in demand
for big pictures.

And he was doing extremely well
on television.

Watching Cyd Charrise...

it's a completely different take
on movement...

than Debbie Reynolds, of course.

But you have to really be aware
of her level of training.

BEHLMER: Gene Kelly understanding,
when devising the ballet...

at which of course grew and grew
and grew...

because they felt
they had to do something...

along the order
of the American in Paris ballet.

They've got Cyd Charrise,
who had just had a baby...

and she had to work out
and lose weight...

and Kelly had not worked
with her before.

So they had to adapt their styles,
and also with heels...

she was actually a little taller
than Kelly.

So the way he devised
the choreography...

was such that with the bends
and the leaning...

and where he was down,
it doesn't show.

But he had to keep that in mind
as he was staging the number.

There's something so wonderful
about the way...

that Cyd Charrise can use
the smallest step...

to emphasize sensuality
and the delicate side of dancing...

and how, "I can do barely anything,
and you're gonna watch me."

It's so commanding
and it's so amazing.

I think... Oh.

Every girl should train
like Cyd Charrise.

Now, what about the story?

We need modern musical numbers.

For 1949, Arthur Freed thought:

"Wait a minute,
I have a song catalog of numbers...

that I had written
with Nacio Herb Brown."

So he thought,
"Let's do a picture based on these songs."

Arthur Freed was the guy responsible...

for the production of musicals
at MGM...

from the inception of the musical,
all through its great development...

and he was as much a creative force
on these movies as Gene Kelly...

Or your composer, your designer.

He is the father, really,
of the golden age musical.

And of all
of those golden age musicals...

Singin" in the Rain is regarded
as the absolute epitome of the era.

It's fascinating.
Arthur Freed wrote the lyrics...

for all these songs in Singin' in the
Rain. And that was sort of how it began.

As a starting point for a movie,
it's not ideal.

Ideally, you should write a story
and then the songs fit.

I don't think they spent much time...

trying to work a narrative that would
accommodate those songs.

They just wrote a story...

which had some relevance
to the movie industry.

And then when they felt like a song,
they popped it in.

"Singin' in the Rain"
could've been in any musical.

It had nothing to do with silent movies,
and the movie industry.

"Lamont and Lockwood. They talk!"

Well, of course we talk.
Don't everybody?

Singin' in the Rain begins...

with a tremendous physical device
to give you context for the story.

He tells this glamorized story of how,
in a perfect way...

he found his way into stardom.

We see the pictures
which are the complete opposite story.

So it's a great gag, a great device.

So much in the movie goes back...

to the central idea
of illusion and reality.

I say, what's the big idea?

Can't a girl get a word in edgewise?
They're my public too!

WASSON: Reality and illusion
is really the central idea...

of all musicals.

The very problem
of what it means to perform.

He'll kiss her with a sigh

Is that really me or is that a fake me?

Let's do the same

As they

! would

Would you?

WOODLEE: When Debbie Reynolds
is behind the curtain and singing...

and it's her, she's the true talent...

I think it really rings true...

to sort of what Hollywood
sometimes does with smoke and mirrors.

It'll say on the screen
I don't talk and sing for myself?

Of course. What do you think?

Arthur Freed hired Betty Comden
and Adolph Green...

who, of course, had worked for him
before on Good News...

which was a college musical
that took place in the '20s.

And on The Barkleys of Broadway...

with Astaire and Rogers,
bringing them back together.

I just think Comden and Green
really knew what they were doing...

when putting this together
and creating the story.

They just have musicals in their blood.

But you have to talk
into the mike first.

In the bush!

One thing you can learn
from Singin' in the Rain...

Is that you must have a great story
underneath it all.

You can't just have numbers
that are just mean... Are meaningless.

Even if they're good.

It doesn't add up
unless you have the full package.

I'm trying to say
something to you, but I...

I'm not able to
without the proper setting.

MARSHALL: And then when the
numbers come, they're just delightful.

The story keeps rolling,
keeps you interested on that level.

I was astonished.
Because watching it again...

they say, "Let's salvage this movie
by making it a musical.”

And they show it to the studio head...

and he says, "It's great. It's working.

How much more have you got to do?"
And Gene says:

"We're nearly there.
We're just doing this kind of medley."

And that medley is "Broadway Melody."

What's that got to do
with a film about the French Revolution?

I think that's the most blatant moment
where they sort of said:

"No, it's all right.
Gene is gonna do this number."

LA FRENAIS: No one is gonna think about...
CLEMENT: Cyd Charrise is gonna be dancing.

She's got the longest legs in the world.

Absolutely. Sold, you know.

[SINGING] And singin'
Just singin' in the rain

In the rain

I'm singin' in the rain

If you go to the story,
if you take it seriously...

considering it's an amiable,
innocent comedy and parody of the time...

it's a terribly cruel ending.

You know,
because they try and build Jean Hagen.

They try and make it very unpleasant
in the last reel so that you'll hate her.

But you don't hate her
because she's so silly.

And then, in that moment, at the end...

when they reveal Debbie...

if you think about it...

her entire life was destroyed
in that moment.

All I could... I know it's sick...

but all I can think about
was they all go to a party at Sardi's...

and she goes home,
and takes an overdose.

Then commits suicide.
That's... That's what happened.

- Let's do the sequel.
- They never tell that story.

No, let's do the sequel.

- But you don't find that really humiliating?
- We'll make it a dark sequel.

LA FRENAIS: And maybe she had a song
before she jumped...

or swallowed.

Or injected.

- The Dancing Cavalier!
- That's it. The Dancing Cavalier.

- Remind me to make you a writer.
- Thanks. Have a cigar.


I love that it's a backstage musical.
I think they make the best musicals.

Because they're performers.

So when they sing and they dance
in the film, it feels completely organic.

One of the hardest things
about a musical.

That's what I love the whole, you know,
world of it.

The unsaid thing
about Singin' in the Rain...

is that in and of itself,
it's a jukebox musical.

MGM really did
the jukebox musical thing...

utilizing the songs
that were popular at the time.

Lucky in your arms

So that's the same thing with Glee.

Glee is a jukebox television show...
Musical television show.

And Rock of Ages, the movie I just made,
is a jukebox musical.

We're part of the same family.

Make a musical.

The new Don Lockwood.
He jumps about to music.

What I study from Gene Kelly's work...

Is the subtleties,
not over-dancing the moments.

He's telling a story.

Gotta dance

KLAPOW: Choreography has to drive
the story along.

It's embellishing
what is already up there...

and taking the story
to a whole new place through movement.

Choreography and dance
is storytelling.

Because you get to that place

where there's no other place to go
in terms of dialogue.

Like it has to be physicalized.

Gene Kelly incorporated so much acting
into his dancing.

And it was one of those things...

where his dancing
and the acting in his dancing...

really moved the plot line.

DeLUCA: Debbie, after she pops through
the cake...

you just get her whole personality
and her whole essence.

It's just a silly number.
It could just be a silly, throwaway number.

But it really is...

The way it's plotted through
is really fascinating.

How character comes out...

and you can really develop characters
so strongly.

With the choreography
that Gene had put together...

it takes you on a journey
and it tells more of a story.

It's not just,
"Look at this dance number."

It's literally part of the experience
and using the dance as a driver.

My favorite thing is that...

The choice to,
at the climax of the song...

to jump in the puddles as a kid would...

or kick the rain around like he does,
like a little kid would...

instead of some big grand
dance moment, is so perfect.

It's what we would all do.
We would all jump like that in the pud...

You know what I mean? I love that.

When Gene Kelly sings his love song
to Debbie Reynolds...

you're in what is clearly the skeleton
of a stage.

Kind of like, behind the scenes.

And the whole movie
can be read as a progression...

from exteriority,
the way it opens with that lie...

"Dignity. Always dignity."

To the climax
of the "Broadway Melody" number...

which is all about his imaginings.

So you quite literally go
from outside to inside.

And the musical numbers themselves
describe that progression.

Everything is just a perfect extension
of scene work.

So the actual choreography isn't a,
"Now, we're gonna stop and dance."

Now, it's like, "Now we're walking,
now, suddenly, we're dancing."

And it's just all transitional
and it's very seamless.

Kelly and Donald
were always very strong...

on how do you get the transition
from the dialogue to the number...

taking Debbie Reynolds' character,
Kathy, home.

And obviously, they're in love.

And then he goes, starts down the street,
and of course, now he's so happy...

and that little vamp,
that beautiful vamp...


which is not part of the original song,
gets him into singing in the rain...

which gets him into:

I'm dancing

The original lyric, of course,
was not dancing in the rain.

It was strictly singing in the rain,
but it was expanded upon.

Dancin' in the rain

WOODLEE: It's just pure joy,
and you're not really thinking:

"Oh, now I'm watching
another dance number."

It's just you're watching this man...

sort of celebrating and laughing
and dancing around.

And then once he sort of gets caught,
he's done and back to his everyday life.

I think it's in "Good Morning."

There's a sequence
where they're all tapping...

and then they spin around.

And they all start doing this sort
of a ballet bar warm-up out of nowhere.

When someone's that proficient
in multiple types of dancing...

what you can do with it
is sort of endless.

KLAPOW: For the three of them to dance
together so well is a very impressive thing.

But luckily, actors already know
how to dance underneath it all.

It's... If you approach it
from an actor's point of view...

and you know
that you're just telling a story...

and you know
that it's all part of the lyrics...

and all of the words are connected
with the dance moves...

then it's easy for the actors
to dance together.

-[SINGS] Good mornin'
-Good mornin'

- Bonjour!
- Monsieur!

- Buenos dias!
- Muchas frias!

DeLUCA: It's just integrated perfectly,
the steps with the narrative...

and that's why everything seems fresh
and alive...

and, in a sense, contemporary.

[SINGS] All I do the whole day through
Is dream of you

I had to tell you how good you were.

MAN 1: Quiet!
MAN 2: Quiet!

MAN 1:
Roll 'em!

Designing a number for film
can be extremely difficult.

It's how to bring the camera
into the dance.

A lot of people choreograph their routines
facing one direction...

and then they put the cameras on it
and shoot it.

But in Singin' in the Rain, you look
at a number like "Moses Supposes"...

and you'll see the desk
as the backdrop...

but seamlessly transition to the window
and the curtains and the chairs...

the wall being the backdrop.

And you don't even realize
that they've changed direction...

on where the dance
is supposed to be performed to.

And it's because he's choreographed
for the camera.

Opening up the possibilities
of how you can entertain an audience...

with a lens versus just a stage.

[SINGING] Couldn't be a lily
Or a taffy daffy dilly

It's gotta be a rose
'Cause it rhymes with "mose”

So there are no limitations
for a choreographer.

You can use space, 360 degrees,
and a lot of range.

You can really just go anywhere
and the camera has to be with you.

That's why Singin' in the Rain
IS so exciting...

because of the way
that the camera travels with everybody.

They used two sound stages
most of the time...

So the expansiveness
was really unique.

In a day where we have so many, like,
competitive reality shows...

that's just about dancing,
and it's a set structure...

that the cameras do
to catch each thing.

I feel like with Gene Kelly's work,
you're a part of it.

Don, you're a genius.

The thing about Gene Kelly for me...

Is that he was a dancer's dancer.

He's so athletic, of course.
You've never seen anything like it before.

In this film, he's doing all those stunts.

It's extraordinary.
I mean, He is... He's just an athlete.

But he also has great range.

MORRISON: The first time I saw Singin'
in the Rain, I was, I think, 13 years old.

I saw guys dancing.

Like... It was just like watching
any sport for me.

It was like watching Pelé play soccer...

or watching Joe Montana
throw a football.

You saw such masculinity
within the dance.

Gene Kelly was more like
a baseball player...

like a man's man in his moves.
So that really attracted me.

[SINGING] Broadway rhythm
It's got me

Everybody sing and dance

As a young kid,
I was so into sports and everything.

And you get into dance,
and you're kind of, like, "This is scary."

In high school,
kids, they make fun of you...

because you're dancing.
It's a sissy thing to do.

There's a lot of like, you know...
This isn't for, like, guys, you know?

You look at someone like Gene Kelly,
He's so... He's masculine, you know.

But he's doing ballet,
and he's doing, you know, jazz.

When he had this TV show,
he talked about how it's a sport.

Gene Kelly has inspired me
probably more than anyone in my life.

It gave me the confidence, like,
yeah, I can be known as masculine...

and dance this style
and make it look cool.

It was important to me
because I come from Pittsburgh.

And Gene Kelly is from Pittsburgh.

And when I was dancing in Pittsburgh,
you know, I was often compared to him.

I remember there was a big article
in the Pittsburgh paper when I was a kid.

I was, like, 16.

And there was an article that said,
"Will he be the next Gene Kelly?"

So for me, you know, it was everything,
you know, Gene Kelly.

Gene Kelly had smoothness about him.

Floated when he danced.

And it's so fluid...

you can't sit there and watch and go:

"Oh, it's this move, then this move,
then this move."

It's just this one fluid story that he
tells throughout his entire dances.

I think he also has an incredible style.
Just that smile, the charm of it, you know.

He loved to dance.
He always throws his head back...

when he's dancing, which I just love.

Gene Kelly is so sexy,
he dances with such male bravado.

MARSHALL.: Fred Astaire is always compared
with Gene Kelly.

Fred Astaire was the top hat and tails.

Gene Kelly
was the working man's dancer.

People talk about Fred Astaire
being incredibly detailed.

But I feel that Gene Kelly was too,
in his way.

But there is a guts to his dancing,
like it's the last time he's gonna dance.

That passion I love.

With Gene Kelly's movements...

it seemed like any old person
watching the film could pick up...

and do the dance steps.

Seems a bit more:

"Oh, I could do that, maybe,
if I had a few moments to rehearse that.”

There was a ruggedness
about his performance.

There was a realness
about his performance.

When I did a number...

in Legion of Extraordinary Dancers,
"Elliot's Shoes"...

the influence came...

from Gene Kelly, you know.

How he would play a little bit
of physical comedy into his dance...

but also give that strong,
masculine feel while telling a story.

I think Gene Kelly...

was the great original triple threat.

And that's actor, singer and dancer.

If you considered yourself an artist,
in their time...

you had to be a triple threat,
have the ability to do it all.

And to me, he was the only person, really,
to possess kind of, like, the fourth trait:

Also to be a man.

You know, to see him
have this very joyous moment...

it spoke an emotion...

yet a strength
that I'd never seen in films.

I'll walk down the lane

With a happy refrain

Just singin'

Singin' in the rain

Gene Kelly knew you were gonna
stare at him and watch him.

He knew that.
You either have it or you don't.

And that's why when he started
to create the dances that he did...

he always knew
how to make his partner shine.

How to lean back in such a way,
and say, "You're the star."

He was brilliant at that.

He drove the people,
but he drove himself...

as much,
if not more, than he drove the people.

Then he always had the ultimate good
of the project in mind.

ROONEY: That is what these young
choreographers and directors and dancers...

can take away
from Singin' in the Rain.

The honesty that Gene Kelly brought
to those rehearsals.

The tenacity to know
that you could make things better...

and take it to the next level.

Singin' in the Rain
has left such a giant footprint...

on movies and musicals today.

And I can tell you personally,
from personal experience...

everything we did in High School Musical
is because of Gene Kelly.

High School Musical 2
had a baseball number.

And it was called "I Don't Dance.”
That was inspired by Gene Kelly.

The number is supposed to be
Lucas Grabeel's character...

teaching my character how to dance
through baseball.

Before we did the number,
Kenny came up...

and told us the inspiration
for the number itself.

Gene Kelly used to work
with Frank Sinatra...

and Frank didn't wanna dance
in any film.

Gene said, "I'll show you.

What do you love?"
He said, "I love baseball."

BLEU: He took him out
onto the baseball field...

and through the movements of baseball,
taught Frank Sinatra how to dance.

You know, natural thought processes
and natural physical ability...

whether it's baseball or, you know...

just sheer anger...

how do you turn it into dance?

How do you find the dance
within the activity?

You know,
because dance is everywhere.

That's what Gene Kelly was so good at.

SHANKMAN: I met Gene Kelly
because I was friends with his kids.

I went to parties at his house
when I was in high school...

that the kids would have,
and he was just a cool man.

But one my greatest memories...

was when I was dancing on the Oscar's
in 1990...

for Paula Abdul,
who was the choreographer at that time.

Paula and Gene were very close.

And he came to rehearsal
and watched us all dance.

In my head, I was going,
"Am I really dancing...

for Gene Kelly right now?

Like, there's no possible way
that this is happening."

And he loved it,
and he loved all of us and...

Because we were all just a bunch of crazies
and killing ourselves for him.

All I ever wanted to do...

is do something
that I could actually gift Gene Kelly.

So I created an animated character
named MC Skat Kat.

I wanted do an homage...

when he was dancing
with the little mouse.

And when the video was done,
I sent it to Gene Kelly with a letter...

saying that, "This is my gift to you
for all the gifts you've given me."

And miraculously, within 72 hours...

got a call
that Gene Kelly wants to meet me.

I was sweating bullets.
I was so nervous to meet...

He was a legend to me.
When I did get to meet him...

it was as if
we had known each other forever.

We became two friends, two dancers
that were just constantly chatting...

back and forth,
and answering and asking questions.

After I had that first meeting at his home,
we'd have tea every week...

for the last two and a half years
of his life.

It was magical.

BOY 1: Hey, there's Don Lockwood!
BOY 2: Hey, give me an autograph!

BOY 3: Sure.
BOY 4: I want a souvenir!

If Singin' in the Rain
feels more contemporary...

than most musicals of its era...

it's probably
because there is a playfulness...

in this musical.

It is sort of the perfect...

Hollywood send-up of itself.

It's funny that Singin' in the Rain
is still so relevant today.

But I think it's because
it doesn't take itself too seriously.

Like, it makes fun of an era.

You're beautiful. Audiences think
your voice matches.

We gotta keep our stars
from looking bad at any cost.

No one's got that much money.

It was a great wink at Hollywood...

way before people were winking
at Hollywood.

All about the pure joy.

And it celebrated the industry
while it was sending it up.

The artistic visual...

of that movie...

Is always referenced, is stunning.

To me, that's the bar.

We're living in a world right now of CGl,
computer-generated images.

And that's pretty amazing.

There are some wonderful movies
out there.

But most of that movie was done
with real props...

everything was real.

I think the reason why the movie
doesn't seem dated even now today...

Is because it takes place
within the industry, you know.

Within this film business that we have...

that it's always continually trying
to keep up with the times.

Always staying forward-thinking.

The sound will run from it...

through this wire, onto the record.

-You got that gadget working?
SAM: All set.

I think the story, you
can still relate to...

because we are right now
making a transition in this time...

traditional media into new media.

And I think there will be a movie
that's gonna talk about this...

as what Singin' in the Rain did...

with the transition from silent films
to talking pictures.

- What do you think?
- It will never amount to a thing.

They said that about
the horseless carriage.

Let's get on with the show.

I think Singin'in the Rain...

still feels contemporary
because the dancing is timeless.

It's not really pocketed
to one type of style...

that lived in that moment.

There's a lot of dance movies
that come out, it's like:

"Oh, this is the hip-hop movie."
And it's like, "That's what that is."

"Oh, that's that point in time."

Singin' in the Rain, it's a little bit of,
you know...

just dancing through life.

My approach to musicals now...

is sort of informed
by the MGM-style stuff...

where it's part of life.

The world sings and dances...

and you go through real places
in real time...

singing and dancing.
It does take a little bit of nerve.

Because it's still an utzy thing
in this world...

10 just accept people
breaking out into song.

Although, Glee has really helped.

MORRISON: Everyone knows
I'm a big Gene Kelly fan...

and Singin' in the Rain is...

It's a perfect piece of art...

and it's so preserved and...

I watch it at least once a year.

[SINGING] Broadway rhythm
It's got me

Everybody dance

There's something so great
about Gene Kelly.

What he was doing was extraordinary.
One man on stage half the time...

and he was doing incredible things.

And he wasn't doing tricks,
and he was dancing.

But there's always something magical.

Every time you're watching,
you feel something.

And that's...
To me, not very many films can do that.

[SINGING] Make 'em laugh
Make 'em laugh

"Make 'em Laugh" was genius.

I think Donald O'Connor...

looks like he's doing
the first break dance...

that has ever been invented
because he is actually breaking his body.

He would do flips and land on his back,
then he would land on a chair, fall off...

do all these incredible things.
So we were laughing.

But I don't know if Donald was
while shooting it...

because it looked
really tough and painful.

A great big custard pie in the face

Make 'em laugh Make 'em laugh

Make 'em laugh

Make 'em laugh

Don't ya...?
All the...


It was special in Glee when Ryan told us
that we would do "Make 'em Laugh."

And you look
at Donald O'Connor's version...

and you're just like,
"How the heck are we gonna do this?"

I don't think there's been another number
on the show...

that the actors have tried that hard.

Because they have to pay
a proper tribute, you know.

You can't do that number
and not attack it a hundred percent.

Matt Morrison and I looked at each other
and said:

"This is incredible
that we get to do this."

And we, you know... We wanted to...
We learned how to do the wall flips...

a couple of days before.

My first thought is like:

"Dear God, what are we gonna do
about that backflip?"

Like, I can't make my actors
flip off a wall.

We didn't have to do it on concrete,
and we did it in one day instead of two.

Because he shot the whole thing
in one day.

And they had to, ha, ha...

Something wasn't right with the camera
or the coloring or something...

So he had to come back the next day.

I think he was 27
when he did that number.

[SINGING] Make 'em laugh Ha, ha

Make 'em laugh Ha, ha

Make 'em laugh Ha, ha, ha

It was so thrilling, but so, like,
nerve-racking at the same time.

SHUM: We were there with padding
and everything.

Cool. Like, fall on my head,
it's all good.

That was great
we were there for each other...

and were like, kind of
pushing each other to keep going.

From a choreographer's standpoint,
it's a nightmare. Ha-ha-ha.

Because so much can go wrong.

And if your actor gets broken,
we have problems here.

SHUM: When Zach, the choreographer,
was like, "Are you sure you wanna do this?"

We're, "Why are you scaring us?
We wanna do this."

It's really not a hard move.

You just have to get out of your head
and be like:

"I'm not gonna break my neck."

It was sheer excitement.

MORRISON: That was my favorite episode ever
to shoot.

I just felt so nostalgic
and so paying homage...

to such a great movie,
and a movie that I love so much.

So that was such a rewarding time
on Glee...

to have them sort of encompass
the life of the number.

But I just had the best time that day.

Make 'em laugh

I'm singin' in the rain

Just singin' in the rain

When you look
at "Singin' in the Rain," the number...

you hear about him
having 103-degree fever...

and being in the rain,
and, like, his clothes shrinking.

And now watching the movie...

it proves testament why Gene Kelly
is a legend, like, that is why.

Because you can do this
and make it look fun.

This is the number that has captured
the imagination over the decades...

and has never worn out its welcome.

Whether it's part of the movie,
or you extract it as an excerpt, it works.

And it works for everybody.
And yet, it's simple.

And nobody,
certainly Kelly nor Donen or anybody...

thought it was going to be
one of the great classic numbers.

But it's not bigness.
It's the idea and the execution.

And in this case,
it's a relatively simple idea.

For me,
to highlight Singin' in the Rain...

and when, you know,
Gene has his moment singing in the rain...

it was a timeless moment.

I mean, many highlights
actually come from it.

Him stepping on the pole
and pushing his umbrella out.

That's the one thing that I'd remembered
before I had actually seen the entire piece.

In 2007, when I did Singin' in the Rain,
my version was a tribute to Gene.

I'm singin' in the rain

Just singin' in the rain

In terms of making Singin' in the Rain
a reality, a staple, for me...

it was just an opportunity to dream.

To pay tribute to an incredible dancer
and singer, actor.

So dark up above

The sun's in my heart

It was motivation, you know.

It was an opportunity for me
to grow myself.

I felt like, "Wow, this is something
that I'd like to do someday."

It's not one that I think many people
would even wanna go after...

because it's such a difficult piece.

I challenged myself in making it...

because I knew that in his creation...

he did it in a collection of one takes
fully through.

I really attempted to do the same thing.

I did fall short, but I tried. Heh.

It was an honor to be a part of something
that would celebrate acting, dance...

the theatrical vision of a moment.

It was my opportunity
to really take that next step...

and show the rest of the world
that this is really what entertainment is.

I think musicals...

I was told when I was doing Chicago,
they were out of fashion.

Nobody wants to see them.
But I never feel a genre is dead.

Especially an American-made genre...

like the musical.
That's ours, you know.

That's something we created.

If you look at Singin'in the Rain...

all of the musical numbers
are like little, mini music videos.

So when I approach working
on a music video...

I think about the choreography,
and I think:

"How would they shoot this?
How are we supposed to shoot this?"

Gene Kelly is still influencing
music videos today.

All because of Singin' in the Rain.

I think if there's anything
a young performer...

should take from this movie
it is integrity of your art.

It's the level of perfection
that you want...

and it's how much respect
you want to give to your art.

To this day, I've yet to see anyone...

embody the dedication and commitment
to the art of dance as Gene Kelly.

That's what Gene always instilled in me,
is that:

"Fail to prepare, prepare to fail."

He said that may sound blunt and brutal,
but that's exactly what it is.

The reason why I admire Gene Kelly
so much is that dedication, you know.

To me, everything within our career
is about hard work.

The second you feel like you are as good
as you can be, you've lost everything.

And Gene Kelly
is a perfect representation...

of just someone who continues
to get better and better and better.

Everybody sing and dance

Oh, that Broadway rhythm

Singin' in the Rain
is the perfect musical.

That's Gene Kelly.
He lets you dance through life.

Like, he lets you know
that anything can be choreographed...

and anything can be a dance.

I can't believe I've had the opportunity
to do films...

like High School Musical
and entertain a whole new generation...

the way that Gene Kelly did for me,
and I wanna pinch myself.

Yeah, I'm more than proud
to be an influence...

and inspiration for, you know,
entertainers to come, you know.

You know,
no different than Gene Kelly was to me.

And I hope to continue
being an inspiration for the arts.

And I do see it, you know,
and I feel great.

You know,
but there is yet so much more to do...

bringing the elements of dancing
and theatrics back to the forefront.

It really makes me happy.

[LIP-SYNCHING] Orchestras play
Taking your breath away

Broadway rhythm It's got me

Everybody sing and dance