Tuesday, February 27

They used milk, you know.

The death of the great Betty Comden gives Mark Steyn another opportunity to roll out my favourite theatrical anecdote of all time:

Arthur Freed, the pre-eminent producer of musicals in the post-war era, had started out as a lyricist in the Twenties. One day in 1953, he called Comden and Green into the office. “Kids, I want you to take all my old songs and make a picture out of them. We’re gonna call it Singin’ in the Rain.”

“All we knew,” Comden told me, “is that somewhere we’d have to have a scene where it was raining and a guy was singing.”

“In it,” added Green.


Next time some tortured artist tells you that money corrupts art, remember that: the greatest musical of all time was created for no other reason than to boost the royalty take on some old songs.

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