Singin’ in the Rain was technically not a new concept when it was first released in 1952. It’s a movie about the movies, and a backstage musical, both of which were done before. Yet, the manner in which the story plays out, as well as the visual choreography was ground breaking and its formula has been used ever since.
Perhaps the best known influence on Singin’ in the Rain was on another MGM musical made just a year later: The Band Wagon. Like Singin’, The Band Wagon is both a backstage and jukebox musical. Plus, it even has Cyd Charisse! Wagon’s leading man is the other famous dancer Fred Astaire and instead of a movie, the plot centers around a stage show. A main parallel this movie has with its predecessor is perhaps the sequence of final dance numbers with the “Girl Hunt” being similar in tone and style to the “Gotta Dance” number.
If you’re from my generation and grew up with the High School Musical (2006-2008) movies, Singin’ in the Rain served as major inspiration for director-choreographer Kenny Ortega and choreographer Charles Kaplow. In the first movie, the Getcha’ Head in the Game performance visually and stylistically pays tribute to Gene’s style of dancing. In addition, the use of basketballs as props is very Gene Kelly-esque, as Gene was famous for integrating props into his dances.
In 2012, Rock of Ages was adapted for the big screen, being a jukebox musical. It used some of the most well known rock songs from the 1980s as its soundtrack. Some of my favorite songs used in the flick, like “Pour some Sugar on Me”, “Every Rose has its Thorn”, and “Wanted Dead or Alive'”. I honestly can admit, while I don’t exactly love this movie, it has a seriously perfect 80’s vibe to it, and it’s fun to catch on TV every now and again.
The latest movie to utilize the influence is Downton Abbey: A New Era (2022). Without giving too much away, part of the plot involves a silent movie being filmed at Downton. The starring actress in the fictional movie, The Gambler, Myrna Dalgleish (Laura Haddock), is a silent screen queen- but much like Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) is beyond all help when the movie must be turned into a talkie. I thought it was super amusing Downton honored Singin‘ because both of these entities as so iconic, and to have them tied together by this plot point certainly a chef’s kiss!
As time rolls on, I have no doubt that actors, directors, dancers, choreographers and entertainers will be be looking to Singin’ in the Rain for inspiration and influence. When something is so well loved and timeless, it’s going to be referred to. The minuscule list I compiled is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the amount of times the movie has been seen and felt in other works, I can’t wait to see what will pop up in the future!