Gene Kelly is remembered by movie followers for his dancing, for his choreography, and for steering for among the most beloved musicals of all time. However, whereas his motion pictures will put a smile on anybody’s face, what was occurring behind the scenes wasn’t as clean and easy as the ultimate product gave the impression to be. In the course of the making of one in every of his most beloved and influential movies, Kelly was exceptionally powerful on his co-stars, together with one younger newcomer who had by no means danced earlier than. The dance legend later mentioned that he was stunned the star “nonetheless talked to him” after they labored collectively. Learn on to seek out out who Kelly was referring to and why their working relationship was so strained.
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In 1952, Kelly starred in Singin’ within the Rain alongside Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor. The film, in regards to the early days of Hollywood and the transition from silent motion pictures to “talkies,” was successful on the time and is now thought of top-of-the-line movies in historical past.
On the time that she made the film, Reynolds was solely 19 years outdated. She did not have any dance expertise and was starring alongside two professionals. On high of that, Kelly was not solely her co-star, however the film’s co-director and choreographer.
“I labored actually, actually arduous, as a result of I did not dance. I wasn’t a dancer, so I needed to sustain with Donald O’Connor and Gene Kelly, so you’ll be able to think about attempting to do this,” Reynolds mentioned on the 2012 TCM Basic Movie Competition. “I imply, in spite of everything, Gene Kelly is likely one of the nice dancers of all time.”
Based on TCM, Reynolds needed to practice eight hours a day for 2 months earlier than filming even started. When the film did begin capturing, it did not get any simpler. Of the “Good Morning” tune and dance scene, Reynolds instructed TCM that by the top of filming, her toes have been bleeding.
“[Kelly] shot it like 40 instances, however he printed the primary take,” Reynolds mentioned. “He was a really exacting man … We began that quantity—‘good morning, good morning’—and it was nighttime after we completed. And we have been actually completed. I had blood in my footwear. It was very troublesome to do these numbers as quick as they wished them and so long as they wished again and again and again and again”
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In her 2013 memoir, Unsinkable, Reynolds wrote about working with Kelly and understandably did not have many optimistic issues to say about their time on Singin’ within the Rain.
As reported by Nation Residing, she known as him a “merciless taskmaster” and wrote, “He got here to rehearsals and criticized every little thing I did and by no means gave me a phrase of encouragement.”
The biography He is Bought Rhythm: The Life and Profession of Gene Kelly by Cynthia and Sara Brideson, additionally talks of Kelly being powerful on different actors and having a mood. “All through his profession Gene pushed individuals to their restrict. Whether or not he did this out of a must exert energy or to check an individual’s character is debatable,” the authors wrote, based on Specific.
It wasn’t simply Kelly’s directing that was a difficulty. Throughout a scene by which the 2 actors needed to kiss, Reynolds wrote that he “shoved his tongue down [her] throat” with out warning.
“‘Eeew! What was that?’ I screeched, breaking freed from his grasp and spitting,” Reynolds wrote in Unsinkable. “I ran round frantic, yelling for some Coca-Cola to cleanse my mouth. It was the early Fifties, and I used to be an harmless child who had by no means been French-kissed. It felt like an assault. I used to be shocked that this 39-year-old man would do that to me.”
Kelly is extensively quoted as as soon as saying of Reynolds, “I wasn’t very good to Debbie. I am stunned she nonetheless speaks to me.”
As for Reynolds, she later mentioned of Kelly (by way of his New York Occasions obituary), “I realized quite a bit from Gene. He’s a perfectionist and a disciplinarian: probably the most exacting director I’ve labored for. And he has a great mood. From time to time he would yell at me and make me cry. However it took a whole lot of persistence for him to work with somebody who had by no means danced earlier than.”
Kelly died in 1996 at age 83; Reynolds handed at 84 in 2016, the day after her daughter Carrie Fisher, 60, died.