Gene Kelly's widow has launched a scathing attack on modern movie musicals, insisting Hollywood bosses now rely on big name actors who "can't sing" instead of casting multi-talented entertainers.

Patricia Ward, who was married to the Singin' in the Rain legend for six years, insists today's big screen musicals are "dumbed down" and reliant on technology to boost the sound and visuals, unlike in her late husband's day.

She says, "Part of the problem is you may have someone who can dance but they can't sing and they can't act... I wish Gene were around because I think the problem is that people don't quite know how to make a musical any more.

"People say you have to dumb it down like an MTV show to make people interested. I don't think that's right...

"Gene used just one camera. Now you have people using eight cameras and lots of different shots. People get so caught up in the technology, but when you cut it up you lose the impact. You don't need trickery when the dance itself is exquisite...

"These (modern) movies are packed with A-list stars. Some of them are not dancers or singers but they are names... These film companies are owned by big business guys, they don't have any interest in art."

Kelly, who died in 1996, received an honorary Academy Award in 1952 in honour of his contribution to Hollywood as an actor, singer and dancer, as well as his achievements in movie choreography.