Stanley Donen

Stanley Donen (/ˈdɔːnən/DAWN-ən; born April 13, 1924) is an American film director and choreographer whose most celebrated works are Singin' in the Rain and On the Town, both of which he co-directed with actor and dancer Gene Kelly. His other noteworthy films include Royal Wedding, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Funny Face, Indiscreet, Damn Yankees!, Charade, and Two for the Road. He received an Honorary Academy Award in 1998 for his body of work and a Career Golden Lion from the Venice Film Festival in 2004.

Donen has been hailed by film critic David Quinlan as "the King of the Hollywood musicals". He began his career in the chorus line on Broadway for director George Abbott, where he befriended Gene Kelly. In 1943 he went to Hollywood and worked as a choreographer for several years before he and Kelly made On the Town in 1949. He then worked as a contract director for MGM under producer Arthur Freed and continued to make hit films and gain critical acclaim, both as a solo director and for his work with Kelly. In 1952 Donen and Kelly co-directed the musical Singin' in the Rain, which went on to become regarded as one of the greatest films ever made. Donen's relationship with Kelly had been shaky for several years and deteriorated in 1955 during the making of their final collaboration: It's Always Fair Weather. He then broke his contract with MGM and became an independent producer of his own work in 1957. By the end of the 1950s musical films were losing popularity and Donen began to focus on comedies instead, continuing to make hit films until the late 1960s. After that his films became fewer and his last theatrical film was released in 1984. He briefly returned to the stage as a director in the 1990s and again in 2002. Donen was married five times and had three children. His current long term partner is film director and comedian Elaine May.

Donen is credited with transitioning Hollywood musical films from realistic backstage dramas where the songs were motivated by a stage setting or the physical presence of musicians to a more integrated art form where the music was unmotivated and the songs were a natural continuation of the story being told. Before Donen and Kelly made their films, musicals (such as the extravagant and stylized work of Busby Berkeley) were often set in a Broadway stage environment where the musical numbers were justified realistically. Donen and Kelly's films created a more cinematic form of movie musicals and included dances that could only be achieved in the medium of film. Donen has stated that what he was doing was a "direct continuation from the Astaire–Rogers musicals...which in turn came from René Clair and from Lubitsch...What we did was not geared towards realism but towards the unreal." Film critic Jean-Pierre Coursodon has said that Donen's contributions to the evolution of the Hollywood musical "outshines anybody else's, including Vincent Minnelli's." He is currently the last surviving notable film director of Hollywood's Golden Age.

Read more about Stanley Donen:  Early Life and Stage Career, Legacy, Relationship With Gene Kelly, Personal Life, Further Reading