Brussels Philharmonic | Singin' in the Rain's secret

Singin' in the Rain's secret

A real feel-good classic and the ideal family film to enjoy on the big screen, with live music!

Come to Flagey on Saturday 17 September or Sunday 18 September and experience this great moment in film history with the Brussels Philharmonic conducted by Dirk Brossé.

The theme of the film is: when you are humble and stay true to yourself, you will be rewarded in the best possible way. Get your tickets now!

Hollywood's best-loved musical of all time, Singin' in the Rain, celebrates its 70th birthday in 2022. Even after its premiere in 1952, for many it remains one of the most imaginative musicals. Director, choreographer and lead actor, the one and only Gene Kelly, elevated the film - and waving an umbrella and jumping into puddles of rain - to iconic heights. Every generation rediscovers the film when a famous pop artist scores a hit with his or her version of the legendary music. You only have to say the film title out loud on a rainy day, and there will always be someone humming the melody of the title track. That's how catchy Singin' in the Rain is!

Great moment in film history

Although the success of the silent film dominated cinemas in the 1920s, its glory days soon faded with the advent of the spoken film, the "talkies". Directing duo Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly managed to capture this key moment in a brilliant cinematic way, with stunning choreography and a symphonic soundtrack full of unforgettable songs and tunes, that even today captivates a young audience that grew up with IMAX, 3D and other technological wonders such as Marvel or A galaxy far, far away.

"You dance love, and you dance joy, and you dance dreams." GENE KELLY
Slices of Hollywood life

Various trivia from film history provides inspiration for some historical scenes. As you watch the movie, you witness how characters from the film industry experience the difficulties and challenges of this transition in a hilarious way.

Although the storyline in Singin' in the Rain is fictional, there are parallels to the careers of many film stars who have disappeared from Hollywood's history books. In fact, the very first scenes in Singin' in the Rain, which depict the wild, almost anarchic beginnings of the modern film industry, are very accurate in depicting that innovative and improvisational time. For example, the character Lina Lamont, played by the sublime Oscar-nominated Jean Hagen, is not a laughingstock because she is a silent film star; she is laughable because of her own pretension and lack of self-awareness. This is certainly also recognizable in some of today's Hollywood stars. This warm nostalgia is indicative of the filmmakers' great respect for their predecessors in the silent era. Singin' in the Rain is not only a breathtaking example of 1950s studio filmmaking, it is also one of the best films ever made about the history of film.

Jukebox musical

Although many great cinema musicals of the 1930s, 40s and 50s were adaptations of pre-existing stage productions, Singin' in the Rain was an exception. Producer Arthur Freed was looking for a way to bring his own songs, written for other films, back into the spotlight. Freed, himself a successful lyricist in the 1920s and 30s, worked with composer Nacio Herb Brown on dozens of songs for the well-known Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) musicals. In 1939, after working as a producer on The Wizard of Oz, Freed was given his own department at MGM, where he oversaw the production of some 45 big-screen musicals over the next 23 years. It is thanks to him that MGM became synonymous with the musical genre. The head of the studio in the film Singin' in the Rain, R.F. Simpson, is based on him, by the way.

The term "jukebox musical" did not yet exist, but then there were a few films that fit the description. Old songs that had nothing in common except their authors and were used as a framework for new stories. In 1951, when Freed was pitching An American in Paris, based on George and Ira Gershwin, he thought of doing the same with the songs he had written with Brown. Writers Betty Comden and Adolph Green came on board the project. They wrote the script especially for the film and incorporated the old songs into it.

Make 'em laugh

The only "original" song' written especially for the film, 'Make 'em Laugh', is actually a copy. When shooting of the film was about to begin, directors Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly realized that Donald O'Connor had no solo song. Nothing from the Freed/Brown collection seemed to fit, so the duo had to come up with something new, something similar to 'Be a Clown' (from Cole Porter's 1947 MGM musical The Pirate). Freed and Brown did just that, with 'Make 'em Laugh', a song that Donen later called "100 percent plagiarism" of 'Be a Clown'. The similarities were overwhelming and unmistakable. According to the gossip on the worldwide net, Cole Porter did not mind (or at least: he did not complain) because he was grateful to Freed for all the support he had received from him in his own career.

All-round artist

Icon Gene Kelly was a hugely influential innovator who transformed dance on screen from elegant steps to an art form for all, combining classical, folk and popular styles. His pioneering contributions to choreography and direction had a particular impact on musical theatre, contemporary dance and film-making. He paved the way for the work of Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins and Twyla Tharp. The public loved him as an actor, singer and dancer, and above all his personality, with which they could identify - even when marvelling at his spectacular production numbers.

Myth unravelled
Widow Patricia Ward Kelly keeps his spirit alive, travelling the world to speak about her late husband and to dispel some of the myths surrounding Singin' in the Rain, among other things. Prince may have sung about purple rain, but it was long believed that Kelly danced in water mixed with milk for the title track. Supposedly, the mix of milk with water would make the raindrops shine brighter on screen. "Absurdly, it's all thanks to the phenomenal cinematography and lighting that were responsible for making those raindrops shine," she proclaimed in various interviews, lectures and podcasts. "Gene has always said that it was very difficult to light the rain from behind, especially because of the reflection in the windows that he dances in front of."

And in the production notes you can read that they had to do other shots because some of the equipment reflected in the glass of the windows. Gene Kelly also made his choreography for this song very accessible. That also makes this scene in the film very timeless. People think they can imitate that dance in the rain. "Gene even choreographed the puddles in the street, so that hewould hit them in a certain way! He always wanted dance to tell the story, and the 'Singin' in the Rain' song is one of the best examples of that," says widow Kelly proudly. It conveys so much in such a simple way.

You will see that the effect will be astonishing! Singin' in the Rain on the big screen is undoubtedly a veritable experience. It is a classic that moves and enchants all ages.

You don't even have to know much about the film; the Brussels Philharmonic warmly invites everyone to join our musicians in experiencing this moment in film history. Applaud, cheer, sing along with us and enjoy Singin' in the Rain, live in concert, to the fullest. The next time it rains, and you see a lamp post in the street, you will feel like hanging from it and jumping into the puddles, singing. You bet!