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He made Fred Astaire dance on the ceiling and Gene Kelly sing in the rain. But Stanley Donen's later work was as dark as Caravaggio's. What changed?

By Mark Cousins   November 2008

In may this year, film director Stanley Donen sued Gap for $5m for using footage from his 1957 film Funny Face in an advert. Many people must have been surprised to learn he was still alive. Donen, who made Singin’ in the Rain, is firmly in Hollywood’s pantheon, responsible for its pre-modern burnish and joy. He made Fred Astaire dance on the ceiling, filmed Gene Kelly’s rapture as he skipped along a rain-drenched pavement, choreographed Cyd Charisse and Rita Hayworth, directed Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra, and modernised the American screen musical. In Empire magazine’s recent poll of the best…

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