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It's Gene Kelly's 100th Birthday


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The new release of Singin' in the Rain (restored in 4K digital by Warner Motion Picture Imaging) is the best the film has ever looked, short of an original Tech IB print. Wonderful, wonderful-looking movie. And great sound, too.

I've told people before: this is one of the greatest movies ever made, and the whole point of it is sound and how it affected the movie business.

"Whaddya think I yam? Dumb or something?"

Funniest bit in the movie: all of Debbie Reynolds' singing was looped by another actress! So... when she's at the mike, pretending to look the voice of Jean Hagen, when she sings, it's actually Jean Hagen's real singing voice and not Debbie's at all. There are some amazing stories behind that great film...

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it's actually Jean Hagen's real singing voice and not Debbie's at all.

That Jean Hagen, of the fingernails on blackboard voice, would actually be the one singing makes this one of the great ironies of film. The whole thing is like Russian dolls nestled within each other.

Actually, Debbie Reynolds did do much of the singing in the film. It's clearly her voice one hears in sequences where we're supposed to be hearing her character. The "Good Morning" sequence. for instance.

And, I believe I hear Debbie Reynold's distinctive tone in the version of "Singing in the Rain" performed in the theater at the conclusion of the film, the scene where she upstages Jean Hagen's character.

But the looping scenes where Lena Lamont's voice is replaced with the rounded tones of an accomplished singer and actress - those are Jean Hagen looping herself. (Or looping Debbie Reynolds looping her; its' like looking into two mirrors that extend the image into infinity)

I recall reading an interview with Gene Kelly that he was sick with the flu and running a fever the night that they filmed the "Singing in the Rain" dance number. I don't know why he felt compelled to press on while sick. He is credited with directing the dance numbers so he may have felt a responsibility to bring things in on schedule.


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