Why Gene Kelly Was Surprised Debbie Reynolds still spoke to him

Gene Kelly will be remembered by film fans for his dancing, choreography and directing of some of the most popular musicals of all time. But while his films put a smile on everyone’s face, what went on behind the scenes wasn’t as smooth and effortless as the final product seemed to be. While filming one of his most popular and influential films, Kelly was exceptionally hard on his co-stars, including a young newcomer who had never danced before. The dance legend later said he was surprised the star was “still talking to him” after they worked together. Read on to find out who Kelly was referring to and why their working relationship was so strained.

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Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly in a promotional photo for "sing in the rain"
Collection John Springer/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

In 1952, Kelly starred in sing in the rain Next Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor. The film about the beginnings of Hollywood and the transition from silent film to talkie was a hit at the time and is now considered one of the best films in history.

When she directed the film, Reynolds was only 19 years old. She had no dance experience and played alongside two professionals. In addition, Kelly was not only her co-star but also co-directed and choreographed the film.

“I worked really, really hard because I wasn’t dancing. I wasn’t a dancer, so I had to compete with Donald O’Connor and Gene Kelly, so imagine trying,” Reynolds told the 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival. “I mean, after all, Gene Kelly is one of the greatest dancers any times.”

According to TCM, Reynolds had to train eight hours a day for two months before filming even began. Once the film started filming, things didn’t get any easier. About the “Good Morning” song and dance scene, Reynolds told TCM that by the end of filming, her feet were bleeding.

“[Kelly] shot it about 40 times, but he printed the first shot,” Reynolds said. “He was a very demanding man … We started with this number –‘good morning Good Morning’– and it was night when we finished. And we were really done. I had blood in my shoes. It was very difficult to do those numbers as fast as they wanted and for as long as they wanted, over and over and over and over again.

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Debbie Reynolds at the premiere of
Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

In her 2013 memoir unsinkableReynolds wrote about working with Kelly and understandably didn’t have much positive things to say about her time sing in the rain.

As reported by Country LifeShe called him a “cruel disciplinarian” and wrote, “He would come to rehearsals and criticize everything I did and never say a word of encouragement.”

The Biography He’s Got Rhythm: The Life and Career of Gene Kelly through Cynthia and Sarah BridesonShe also speaks of Kelly being tough on other actors and having a temper. “Throughout his career, Gene has pushed people to their limits. Whether he did so out of a need to exercise power or to test a person’s character is debatable,” the authors wrote To express.

Debbie Reynolds on the set of "sing in the rain"
Collection John Springer/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

It wasn’t just Kelly’s direction that was a problem. During a scene in which the two actors had to kiss, Reynolds wrote that he “put his tongue down [her] throat” without warning.

“‘Eee! What was that?’ I shrieked, broke free of his grip and spat,” Reynolds wrote unsinkable. “I was running around frantically yelling for some Coca-Cola to clean my mouth. It was the early 1950s and I was an innocent kid who had never French kissed. It felt like an attack. I was stunned that this 39-year-old man would do this to me.”

Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher at the 1957 Screen Producers Awards
Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Kelly is often quoted as once saying of Reynolds, “I wasn’t very nice to Debbie. I’m surprised she’s still talking to me.”

As for Reynolds, she later said about Kelly (about his New York Times obituary), “I learned a lot from Gene. He’s a perfectionist and a disciplinarian: the most demanding director I’ve ever worked for. And he has a good temper. Every now and then he would yell at me and make me cry. But it took a lot of patience for him to work with someone who had never danced before.”

Kelly died in 1996 at the age of 83; Reynolds died in 2016 at the age of 84, a day after her daughter Carrie Fisher60, died.

https://bestlifeonline.com/gene-kelly-debbie-reynolds-news/ Why Gene Kelly Was Surprised Debbie Reynolds still spoke to him

Sarah Y. Kim

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