|Easily the best of the best on all counts (great poster, too).|
it that Gene Kelly did this number in one "take." He didn't. It took three days.
By the time he was finished, he was running a fever of 103.
In watching it, you'll be surprised it didn't kill him.
During the 1930s and 40s, MGM Studios was the king of film musicals. From their first Academy Award winning musical, The Broadway Melody in 1929 until the advent of television walloped the movie industry in the mid-1950s, MGM amassed a musical film library second to none. MGM producer, Arthur Freed was something of a genius. He went back though the studio's film vault and culled from it the best songs from the musicals he found, then charged studio writers, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, to tie them all together into a modern film musical utilizing the talents of Howard Keel and Oscar Levant. Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor were both second choices as the screenplay developed. The ingénue role, played by Debbie Reynolds, was originally suppose to go to Judy Garland until she was fired by the studio in a contract dispute (though Kathryn Grayson, Jane Powell, Leslie Caron, and June Allyson were also considered).
Taking their cue from the winning formula of The Broadway Melody, the MGM screenwriters set their story in the late 1920s as sound hit Hollywood. Forced to compete with the sound pioneers at Warner Brothers, MGM was, ironically, the last major studio to decide "talkies" were more than just a fad. However, once they embraced sound, they quickly discovered that audiences would pay well to see Broadway entertainment on the big screen; and that, moreover, film allowed them to do things from a production standpoint the Broadway stage could only dream about. Also, if a dancer slipped and fell or a singer hit a sour note, they could just cut out that part and continue. With the likes of Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, and Gene Kelly however, such missteps seldom occurred.