I was on a car trip to Baltimore, Maryland this past weekend and leaving on a Friday and having to drive down I-95 is a self-declared sentence of boredom given the insane amount of traffic along this east coast corridor. Well being that I did not have to drive myself, I watched a DVD in the car and upon the suggestion of my fiancee (suggestion really means I have no choice when it comes to dealing with one's wife or girlfriend), we watched "Singing in the Rain" starring Gene Kelly. I had never seen this film but figured it was a classic film and given that I really didn't have a choice to see it, I hit play.
What I did notice about the film is how much references this film has in the Disney-MGM Studios when the park first opened. The film is directly referenced in the Great Movie Ride as well as themes and ideas from the film finding themselves into other areas of the park so I thought I would point out some of these because it's more than just the Singing in the Rain scene in the Great Movie Ride.
The opening scene of Signing in the Rain shows a Hollywood premier for a new film of the silent film era starring Gene Kelly's character, Don Lockwood. Obviously the Chinese Theater is a central focal point of the Studios as the housing for the Great Movie Ride and although the ride doesn't include an opening of a film motif, there is still that aura of Hollywood glitz that we see from this part of the film.
There is a song in the film called "Make 'em laugh" which is sung by Kelly's co-star Donald O'Connor, who played the character of Cosmo. Cosmo sings a number called "Make 'em laugh" and this exact song was used later in the now defunct attraction of "Here Come the Muppets". In this attraction, Fozzy sings this song (with Kermit the Frog and Gonzo singing and dancing backup) as a means of an impromptu act. In the film, Cosmo uses his physical comedic genius to entertain while sing (slipping on things, running into objects, etc) and in the attraction Fozzy and friends slip on banana peels and use the same exact style of physical comedy in the song. Clearly, Imagineers used not just the song as inspiration for the scene in the attraction, but the entire premise of the scene in the film.
In the preshow of the Great Movie Ride, we find a number of movie trailers playing in the large lobby area before you enter the attraction vehicles. These trailers are from the scenes depicted in the attraction and for Singing in the Rain, we find a number of these references. The actual scene in the attraction only shows the scene where Gene Kelly sings the title song but there are a number of other songs and in this, very quickly at the beginning of the trailer you will see these three women sing and it's quick but a precursor to the rest of the trailer.
This scene from the film should jump out to anyone who has ridden the Great Movie Ride and it's the famous scene of Gene Kelly dancing on a light pole as he literally sings in the rain. This scene was so poignant that Imagineers used it in the scene of the attraction to represent the film. The scene is so ingrained in Americans that without seeing the film, most guests know exactly which film is being depicted and that is of course the goal of the Imagineers.
This scene from the film may not immediatley make a connection with you but this is a part of the film where Gene Kelly sings "Gotta dance!" and this fantastic song is included in the preshow movie trailer for the film. Kelly sings about making it on Broadway and is a scene from the fictional film Kelly's character is filming. It's a great song and scene and quickly referenced in the film's trailer.
One final reference to the film is made in the Studios, although it's semi-secret to many guests. On the Streets of America you will find an umbrella attached to a light pole. If a guest stands underneath the umbrella, water falls on the umbrella, mimicking that famous scene where Kelly sings in the rain. It's a great photo opportunity and just fun to do once (assuming the water effect actually work). It's quick and nothing complicated but shows you one more reference to the film and the high sitting the film held with Imagineers when they were designing the park.
After watching the film, I was really shocked by just how many references this film has in the parks and went out to buy the DVD once I returned home. That is, once I got out of the torrential traffic that is I-95 in New Jersey on a Friday afternoon.