Arts & Entertainment

NJ Star Ledger Movie Critic Stephen Whitty Speaks At West Orange Classic Film Festival

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Film critic Stephen Whitty introduces Singin In The Rain to the audience at Essex Green. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
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Whitty shares anecdotes about the film and takes questions from the audience. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
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WEST ORANGE, NJ - Sunday's West Orange Classic Film Festival screened a newly remastered copy of 1952's "Singin In The Rain," and the sold out crowd enjoyed every moment of it.  

Ken Mandel, the Film Festival coordinator, welcomed the crowd and introduced renowned film critic Stephen Whitty, who writes for New Yorker and the Star Ledger.  Whitty introduced the film and provided some background on its development.

Following the showing, Whitty again shared information about the film, noting that Debbie Reynolds, who was 19 at the time she filmed, said that the two most difficult things in her life were childbirth, and filming "Singin' In The Rain."

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He also told the audience that Reynolds' character provided voice and vocals for a silent screen star with a nasal New York twang; in the film, except for two songs, Reynolds' singing was done by another singer, Betty Royce, and in one scene, her speaking voice was actually the voice of Jean Hagen, who played the silent screen star Lina Lamonte.

Kelly, who choreographed the film, was 20 years her senior and a perfectionist. Donald O'Connor, after filming his dance sequence for "Make Em Laugh" was hospitalized for exhaustion. Kelly filmed his famous "Singin' In The Rain" dance routine with a fever of 102 degrees. Whitty noted that Kelly's musicals always included a ballet routine (an homage to his love of ballet), and he enjoyed showing off his physique with fitted clothes and rolled up shirt sleeves.

Next week's movie is Federico Fellini's "Amarcord," showing on Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. Purchase tickets at www.fandango.com.

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