Published On: Sat, Oct 29th, 2022

Gene Kelly’s ‘assault’ of a kiss left actress ‘retching’ on the floor | Films | Entertainment


Later today, at 2:50pm on BBC Two, Singin’ in the Rain hits TV screens. While the film is renowned for bringing Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds to the big screen as the iconic Don Lockwood and Kathy Selden, things behind the scenes were tense between the two stars for many reasons.

During the filming of Singin’ in the Rain, Reynolds was very new to Hollywood, and was slowly but surely making a name for herself.

At just 19-years-old, she was rather intimidated by working opposite Kelly as his love interest. Things were made even worse by the fact he was 39-years-old at the time and the fact that they had some intense moments to shoot together. 

Reynolds later recalled having trouble filming the raunchy love scenes between them in the movie. She said in her memoir, Unsinkable: “In Singin’ In the Rain, Gene and I play two people falling in love. [During] one of the film’s many famous scenes, the camera comes down from an overhead crane as we kiss and ‘You Are My Lucky Star’ swells on the soundtrack.”

When their kiss was about to happen, Reynolds was subjected to far more than she expected.

“The camera closed in,” Reynolds continued. “Gene took me tightly in his arms… and shoved his tongue down my throat.”

Horrified, she launched back in disgust and screeched: “Eww, what was that?!”

She then wrote that she broke away from the set and started “spitting and retching” on the floor. 

Reynolds went on: “I ran around frantic, yelling for some Coca-Cola to cleanse my mouth. It was the early 1950s, and I was an innocent kid who had never been French-kissed.”

READ MORE: Gene Kelly’s rough approach with partner left her ‘black and blue’

Kelly, however, was a hugely famous actor and world-renowned dancer, and he did not want to share the screen with such a young actor.

Because of this, he worked her as hard as he possibly could. Reynolds later called him a “taskmaster” on the set.

In fact, he made her, and the rest of the cast, dance the routine to the song “Good Morning” repeatedly for an entire day.

Reynolds said she danced so much that her feet were bleeding by the end of the shoot.

Eventually, the constant rehearsals became too much for her. She wrote: “I was crying under the piano on one of my breaks, my feet were killing me and my back was like it was broken.”

Reynolds wasn’t the only person who criticised Kelly’s behaviour on set.

Esther Williams also described the actor as “a jerk” while on the set of Take Me Out to the Ball Game. She added that working with him was “pure misery”.

Lana Turner maybe came out worst of all. In a staged fight she demanded Kelly throw her down “harder”. He later reflected: “Like a fool, I broke her elbow.”

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