Gene Kelly was upset about A Clockwork Orange – 40 years later Malcolm McDowell learned why

Kelly was seemingly not happy about ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ featuring in the movie

Annabel Nugent
Tuesday 24 August 2021 12:37
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A Clockwork Orange trailer

A humorous anecdote about Gene Kelly resurfaced on Monday (23 August), the date on which the legendary actor and musician was born in 1912.

As Kelly’s fans remembered the late star, who died in 1996, a humorous anecdote surrounding his involvement in Stanley Kubrick’s cult classic A Clockwork Orange was shared in The Hollywood Reporter.

According to the film’s lead Malcolm McDowell (who portrayed Alex), the “Xanadu” star was so angry about his song “Singin’ in the Rain” being featured in the 1972 film that he rebuffed McDowell when they first met.

It was 40 years later that McDowell found out exactly why Kelly had snubbed him – and it wasn’t for the reason he had thought.

The actor shared the story when speaking to a room of fans years ago. The 78-year-old explained how he had introduced himself to Kelly at a party he was invited to by an executive from Warner Bros, the studio behind A Clockwork Orange.

“[The executive] said, ‘You won’t believe it but Gene Kelly’s here.’ And I said, ‘Great, I’d love to meet him,’” recalled the actor.

“He had his back to me and the guy tapped him on the shoulder, he turned and the guy said, ‘Gene, I would like you to meet Malcolm McDowell.’”

Stanley Kubrick's 'A Clockwork Orange' also gained accusations of so-called obscenity, prompting the director to withdraw it from circulation

Kelly apparently took one look at McDowell before walking away.

“He cut me dead,” said the actor. “Can you blame the poor man? I took his wonderful moment and completely f***ed with it.”

Kelly’s upbeat 1952 musical number features in one of the film’s most graphic and violent moments, during which McDowell’s character and his gang attack a couple.

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When McDowell recalled the story 40 years later, he discovered that Kelly had walked away not because of how his song had been used in the movie but because he had not yet been paid for its use.

“I am telling this story to the Academy, and afterward this lady came up and said, ‘I’m Gene’s widow. Gene wasn’t upset with you, Malcolm. He was really upset with Stanley Kubrick because he hadn’t been paid,’” McDowell told the crowd.

“And I went, ‘My God, there’s quite a gang of us who haven’t been paid,’” he quipped.

The clip of McDowell speaking can be viewed on YouTube here.

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