Patricia Ward Kelly Reflects on Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain

The Gene Kelly musical classic Singin’ in the Rain is out today on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack to celebrate its 70th anniversary.

Singin’ in the Rain is widely considered to be one of the greatest musical films in cinematic history,” Warner Bros. Home Entertainment describes the release. “The musical romantic comedy was directed by choreographed by Gene Kelly (On the Town) and Stanley Donen (On the Town) and stars Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchel, and Cyd Charisse.”

ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke to Gene Kelly’s widow, Patricia Ward Kelly, about singin in the rain‘s legacy, how Gene’s popularity persists, and more.

Tyler Treese: I live outside of Pittsburgh, so Gene Kelly has always been held in such high regard. Watching this 4k release, I was just such a great reminder of just how talented he was to be able to direct, star, and choreograph this film. Do you feel that Singin ‘in the Rain is the best showcase of the full scope of his abilities from him?

Patricia Ward Kelly: I think it’s a very good one. People always ask me what my favorite film is, and I actually kind of look to lots of different numbers in different films that show maybe the breadth of the choreography, the breadth of the dance styles, but you do see an awful lot of that packed into Singin’ in the Rain. You see his classical ballet by him with Cyd Charisse. You see the jazz, you see the tap. So I think perhaps that’s an interesting way to look at it. I had n’t… I may borrow that from you because it is an interesting way to look at it as a kind of complete amalgamation of his work by him. That’s interesting. You do see similar, say On the Town would have similar things and you have the On the Town ballet, but I might just steal that from you.

Oh please go ahead.

We’ve seen the film just become this cultural milestone over the decades, and it just has effortlessly stood the test of time. We’ve seen so many homages and tributes to sequences from the film over the years, as well. Do you have a favorite tribute to this film?

Oh, it just pops up again and again and again. I would say the most recent thing that really touched me was a small town in the UK that at the beginning of lockdown, really when we were shuttered and afraid and things were very desperate. It started to rain, and somebody sent me a clip that all of the people on this long row of houses all came outside. They put Gene up on loud speakers and they all performed Singin’ in the Rain, and I think they’d all experienced loss and this was a moment of joy for everyone. So, that’s a little bit different from somebody doing a kind of cartoon image of it or something, but that one really touched me and I had a lot of clips from dance schools where, because the kids couldn’t meet, their assignment was to choose how they wish to do an homage to it. So I saw hundreds of these kids, each choosing what they were gonna jump off or what segment, and that was really moving too, to see them all brought together like that.

Yeah, that’s beautiful.

The 4k release is such an amazing way to rewatch this film. It’s just awesome seeing Gene’s performance live on and reach new generations. You spoke to the young kids, and he’s still gaining new fans every day. It’s remarkable, isn’t it?

It is. He died 26 years ago and I really think that he’s more vibrant now than ever before. I have so many little fans at 2, 3, 4, and 5-year-olds, and they’re absolutely glued to him and his work. It’s interesting. They understand the work. They’ll look at it and they’ll say, “There are no cuts in this,” and I’ll say, “No, there’s a cut, but it’s on the turn. It isn’t all just chopped up.” So they’re very sophisticated. In fact, I learned more, I’ve spoken in, I think, 33 high schools in the Allegheny county, and I learned so much from those young people because they really are insightful. They’ll ask you questions that other people might not ask. I have to credit my time there in Pittsburgh. I’ll be there soon for the Kelly awards. We’ll get to open up again in May.

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