On a Hot Night in New York, ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ Turns 60

(Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

Last night, moviegoers took a break from big-budget popcorn flicks for 60th-anniversary screenings of Singin’ in the Rain all around town that were presented by Turner Classic Movies and hosted by NCM Fathom Events. The Observer attended a screening in Union Square, where longtime fans, old and young, arrived early with their children and uninitiated friends to get good seats.

“This one of my favorite movies from childhood,” said one patron who arrived an hour early, “but growing up in the ‘90s, I never got to see it on the big screen.” She and the people sitting near her didn’t have to be bored waiting; pre-show trivia flashed across the screen (did you know they made it rain milk and water for the big “Singin’ in the Rain” number so it would show up on camera?)

Before the feature presentation, NCM showed a 15-minute introduction and a taping from this spring’s TCM Classic Film Festival. TCM’s Robert Osborne had spoken with Debbie Reynolds in front of a live audience at the festival. At 80 years old, Ms. Reynolds is just as cute as when she was an 18-year-old leading lady—she is what behind-the-scenes features on  special-edition DVDs are made of. She remembered being terrified of dancing next to Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor when she had no formal dance training herself.

Her interview was spliced with comments from O’Connor, Cyd Charisse, and Patricia Ward Kelly, Kelly’s widow (he died in 1996). One thing all the stars agreed on was the joy—and challenge—of going toe-to-toe with Gene Kelly. “I had blood in my shoes after filming that number,” said Ms. Reynolds of “Good Morning.” They also had plenty to say about Kelly’s tough choreography and strict direction. It’s no surprise they found it tough—he had a vision. Ward Kelly remembered, “He really wanted to change the way dance looked on screen.”

Once the interviews ended, the audience really settled in and got caught up in the Technicolor treat, clapping after the biggest numbers like O’Connor’s slapstick-y “Make ‘Em Laugh,” “Good Morning” and, of course, “Singin’ in the Rain.” We left the theatre floating on air, having forgotten the noise of the city and The Amazing Spider-Man.

On a Hot Night in New York, ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ Turns 60