on October 26, 2002
"Singin' In the Rain" has finally gotten the "special" treatment this masterpiece deserves. The new digital transfer is stunning-- both visual and audio. I've seen this film I don't know how many times in theatres, including several screenings in the original 3-strip Technicolor. This transfer, as with "The Wizard of OZ," is as close as you can get to seeing a 3-strip print in a theatre.
Many reviewers have complained about the commentary track and it is the low-point of this edition. So skip it, if you don't like it.
Instead, throw on the second disc, which is a goldmine. First, there is the excellent PBS documentary on the Arthur Freed Unit, "Musicals Glorious Musicals." This is an often revealing 90-minute film about the musical films Freed produced. Plenty of great excerpts, too. It tends to puffery, but not excessively.
Then there is a new documentary, "What A Glorious Feeling," on the making of "Singin' In the Rain." Watching both these documentaries, you don't need the commentary track. Most of it was lifted from these documentaries.
In addition, this supplementary disc includes the songs used in "Singin' In the Rain," as they first appeared in their original written for films and later films that used the songs again. Some of these are unintenionally funny today. But it is really a crash course in the history of movie musicals. My favorite is Eleanor Powell in the number that introduced "You Are My Lucky Star." A beautfully done, very '30's black-and-white number that builds into an all stops-out dream-dance sequence. (Were Americans ever this innocent?) Others include Bing Crosby wonderful introducing "Beautiful Girls," Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney introducing "Good Morning," Cliff Edwards (aka Ukele Ike, Jiminy Crickett) introducing "Singin' In the Rain" with what appears to be every star then under-contract to M-G-M in 1929, "Broadway Melody" in a tremendous number led by the irreplaceable Eleanor Powell and support from some of the best talent of the time including "eccentric dancer" Buddy Ebsen and the great singer Frances Langford--the best number by far in this retrospective. And there is another whole section of audio excerpts from the recording sessions.
In short, this is an incredible collection that any musical or film buff should treasure.
It is true, as one reviewer noted, that the "Broadway Melody" number in "Singin' In the Rain" is a flaw in the flow of the film. Pauline Kael pointed this out too. She considers the film a great one. For myself, I don't mind, the number is too damned well-conceived and entertaining. Again, thanks to being on DVD, you can jump to the next scene if you don't care to watch it. I've tried it and the film definitely runs smoother narratively. But I missed it, and played after the film.
If you love SITR, as I do, this is a must buy. If you're interested and have never seen it, rent it and decide for yourself.
Let's hope that Warner Brothers does a 50th anniversary edition of "Bandwagon" next year with a digital and audio refining that equals or surpasses this. And a better commentary track. Bet Scorssee would join in the commentary.
ONE LAST THING
"Singin' In the Rain" was not shot in widescreen, but in the only format used for studio pictures before the end of 1953. It was designed to be shown in 1.37:1, Which just about the ratio of most tv screens. YOU ARE NOT MISSING ANYTHING. I wish you young film buffs would educate yourselves about the history of film aspect ratios.
Also Michael Kidd had nothing whatsoever to do with the choregraphy in "Singin' In the Rain." He comments on it, but never claims he did any of it, for the simple reason he did none. He was probably in New York over-seeing his legendary choregraphy for the original stage production of "Guys and Dolls." Which is probably why he got the "Bandwagon" assignment a year after "Singin' In the Rain." He did all the choregraphy in "Bandwagon" and the following year, 1954, for "7 Brides For 7 Brothers."
Kelly and Donen worked in partnership on the choregraphy and direction "SITR." And it is really impossible now to determine who was responsible for what.
First off, I need to point out that Amazon does have this odd policy of grouping ALL reviews of ALL versions and editions of a film in one place. So when a film is restored or reissued the reviews are grouped with the others. There are over400 reviews for "Singing in the Rain" here and they stretch back as far as 1998 and as recent as July 2012. Reviews are automatically sorted by the "Most Helpful" first and - while I hope you will find my review helpful - I do encourage you to look at the date of any review you read and compare it with the "release date" of the edition you are looking to purchase. With that said, I'll move on to my review.
I'll go along nearly everyone who treasures "Singin in the Rain" in saying it is probably one of the most important films ever made and the top musical. It's also the most entertaining 103 minutes you'll se on the screen. Sure there is smart dialogue, but the film boasts a compendium of wonderful "hit songs" that were all succeses even before the were incorporated in the story by Comden & Green. Go ahead and read the other reviews, if you are not familier with the plot or background of the film. That hasn't changed in the 20+ years of reviews.
I last reviewed this film on DVD 10 years ago when Warner Home Video released the 50th anniversary package in 2002. That was before Blu-ray. Because the multi-disc versions of the new 60th Anniversary Edition contain all the "special features" of the 50th Anniversary one, I chose the single-disc Bluray to see the new HD transfer and the new 53-minute documentary. The single-disc BD contains only the HD transfer, the doc, a "juke-box" function and the Theatrical Trailer (along with the commentary track from the 50th).
The PRINT is glorious even on my non HD TV. And the film was not in Wide Screen so the dimensions of your screen don't matter. The documentary really didn't add much, but was fun to watch. Its purpose was to reach the younger generation who are fans of "Glee" and "High School Musical". Both choreographers and actors from those shows are interviewed and tell about the first time they saw the film. A few "oldsters" like Rob Marshall and Baz Luhrman add comments and there are some from film historian Rudy Behlmer (who appeared on the Warner musical reissues before the start of the press-on-demand Warner Archive series). Of course there are lots of clips from the film (some repeated again and again) as well as clips from other Kelly films as well as Fred Astaire films - comparing the two. A brief mention of importance of Arthur Freed is made but no discussion of the new digital transfer. It's an OK doc but, not sure it breaks any new ground.
Still, if you love this film (and I can watch it over and over) and have an HD TV, you'll probably want to pick this up. If you have the prior edition and an HD TV you'll want the single disc BD. If you don't own the prior one, you'll want the 2-disc version for all the extra bonus that were added 10 years ago.
But this is a DVD (in one form or another) that EVERYONE should own.
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN's story is well known, and concerns 1920s silent romantic acting team Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen.) Trouble is that sound is coming in--and Lina's speaking voice could peel paint off the wall. The solution? Don's best friend (Donald O'Connor) and love interest (Debbie Reynolds) have the inspiration of revamping Lockwood and Lamont's debut sound film as a musical, with Reynolds dubbing Hagen's vocals. The resulting story is a high-energy, extremely witty, and truly sparkling film laced with period songs by Arthur Freed, a film that many regard as the single finest musical to emerge from Hollywood.
In many respects SINGIN' IN THE RAIN is a throwback to the early musicals of the era it satirizes, for many of its musical numbers ('Make 'em Laugh' is a notable example) have absolutely nothing to do with the story it tells--but unlike such early musicals the storyline is exceptionally strong, and since the film is about the creation of an early "all talking, all dancing, all singing" movie in which such musical numbers were typical, they have here a certain validity that could not otherwise be achieved. The cast is absolutely flawless, and without exception Kelly, Reynolds, O'Connor, and Hagen (particularly memorable as the literally unspeakable silent star) give the finest performances of their respective careers. The musical numbers range from the vibrant and complex 'Good Morning' to the lyrical 'You Are My Lucky Star' to the brilliantly conceived and executed title song, each without exception the definition of perfection. The art designs are meticulous, beautiful, and recreate the late-silent and early-sound era of Hollywood with considerable wit and charm. As a whole, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN possesses an engergy and vitality that simply makes you bounce in your seat from excitement.
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN is a musical that even people who hate musicals love. Whether or not you consider it "the" finest musical ever created by Hollywood is, ultimately, a matter of personal preference; there are several contenders for that title, most notably MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, GIGI, and THE WIZARD OF OZ. But no matter where you personally rank it, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN is certainly ONE of the best, a film that simply gains in critical and popular stature with every passing year, a national and a world treasure of cinematic art.
on July 24, 2012
Most people who are reading this review know how awesome "Singin' in the Rain" is, so I won't review the film, but rather I'll limit the review to the 60th Anniversary Blue-ray disc. I watched this on a 70" Sharp Aquos HDTV. What an experience! In a darkened room, with a giant bucket of coronary-inducing self-popped (not microwave) buttered popcorn (with real butter, thank you) and an enhanced sound system, I was transferred to a time that I hadn't experienced since I was a little kid. The blue-ray transfer is breathtaking with the brillant color, clarity, and sound. It was like watching a brand new film. This is how audiences originally saw the film 60 years ago. The commentary track was very informative, though it was recorded a few years ago, since some of the contributers are now deceased. The added features are excellent. I like the 'jukebox' feature, which allows you to watch just the musical numbers of your choice. If you only have a little time, but you need a quick uplifting shot of "Good Mornin'" or "Moses Suposes" you can do that. Also the added feature of interviews with some of today's dancers, choreographers, and musical film directors is fun. It's good to see the respect and admiration that they have for Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, et al. I suggest whatever home theater equipment you have, set yourself up as close to a theater setting as possible and get swept away. Experience how magical a movie experience can be.
When SINGING IN THE RAIN was released, people were certain it was Oscar material. AN AMERICAN IN PARIS had won the previous year, and certainly this was a more spectacular film. It did not win the Oscar that year. Cecil B. De Mille's THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH won the honor. The academy preferred Betty Hutton, Charlton Heston, James Stewart as a clown escaping the police, and the great train wreck scene of this film over the song and dance numbers of Gene Kelley, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O'Connor. Over the years audiences seem to love this film, which is often considered the greatest Hollywood musical, or at least the greatest MGM musical, and are probably more familiar with it than the Academy Award Winner.
I remember the first time I saw SINGING IN THE RAIN. It was pre-cable, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, when I was in the sixth grade. With nothing better to do, I watched this movie and was mesmerized. Even though I had seen THE WIZARD OF OZ many times, and even got to stay up late and watch THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, I had never seen a movie quite like this one. Though I will have to admit THE SOUND OF MUSIC is my favorite movie musical, SINGING IN THE RAIN got me addicted to film.
The reason this film has lasting value is that it works. We genuinely like the characters so we hope they fall in love. The musical numbers, though not originally written for the film, fit together. The dancing can transport the viewer to another time and place. Though the plot may be simplistic, it is sincere entertainment. We see three great performers, perhaps at their best (though I would argue that Kelley is slightly, but just slightly better in AMERICAN IN PARIS) in a film that could never be duplicated today.
The two disk DVD set has an added bonus of a second disk containing a history of MGM musicals produced by Arthur Freed. This historical piece which includes snippets of other MGM greats such as SHOWBOAT, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, THE HARVEY GIRLS, THE WIZARD OF OZ, and GIGI is definitely a treat.
on July 17, 2012
If they would ever give out awards for Blu-ray.....This would be the one to take it.
I have a couple hundred Blu-ray discs and I, personally, think this is the best disc that was ever pressed. I've seen Singing In The Rain in the theater, on VHS, on Bata Max, CED videodisc, Laser Disc and DVD. But, WOW, I have never seen this movie look and sound so good. You've got to see it! WOW!
This is a revisit to a movie I haven't seen in years. Have I changed my view? Nope. In fact, watching the film on the new Blu ray disc more than confirms that the film still holds up after 60 years. The video transfer maintains the original 1.37:1 aspect ratio. While the images aren't quite as natural as you might like, there are very few distractions. The colors are spectacular and the dancing is the greatest ever put on film.
Gene Kelly seen here in his prime and in a tuxedo, could have been a great James Bond. Cool, good looking with beautiful women all around. Dancing never had a better stud. Donald O'Connor is a second banana here, but check him out in his solo routine, "Make `Em Laugh". He teams up with Kelly in a couple complicated numbers and you will never see better choreography.
The story centers around the time when silent films made the transition to "talkies" (1927) and Kelly's leading lady couldn't make the jump due to her high pitched Brooklyneze voice. Her voice and singing are later dubbed in by a newcomer named Kathy (Debbie Reynolds). She's also Don's (Kelly) new fling. This is all fun, inside stuff but the real action is on the dance floor.
The film of course, features Kelly's take on the title song, which I've seen dozens of times. It is still spectacular. I had forgotten about the 13 minute dance sequence in the last act featuring Kelly and long-legged Cyd Charisse. She dances throughout this number with a 30 foot long scarf flowing behind her. It wraps gracefully around Kelly several times. It is beautiful to watch, as is the whole movie.
While the film in this Blu ray version is visually an upgrade from DVD, the audio is the real star. The newest option is a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. It's a big deal. The songs in particular have been given a wonderful mix. The LFE channel is restrained keeping focus suggested by the original mono score. Special features include a new documentary, commentary by several of the stars and others and a "jump-to-song" feature. This is a pretty bare bones package (one disc) for what is a milestone film.
on October 30, 2002
Okay. I'll dispense with a review of the film, because most of us (I hope) already agree that this is simply a classic.
Let me begin by simply saying I'm SO happy Warner's have chosen to produce a special edition DVD to mark the 50th anniversary of the film. It's one of those releases that reminds you just how superior the potential of the DVD format is.
Right, the extras: They're good. In fact, they're great. The new interview material is so nice to see, especially seeing as most of the people who worked on the film are passed away or very old. The only person missing I would have liked to see was Rita Morena (Zelda Zanders), but everyone else is there, including archive footage of the much-missed Gene Kelly and Jean Hagen.
I should warn you that the commentary is not a screen-specific commentary, but one of those disappointing audio commentaries comprising audio interviews. Still, it's a minor quibble.
The transfer and the sound quality a very evry nice indeed, although I've been watching this film for so long, I almost wish it wasn't in 5.1! I got used to the Mono. Oh, and just in case you might think this Fullscreen presentation is poor, as some other reviewers seem to think, then please know that this film was not made in widescreen. Cinemascope and the other wide formats were not introduced until the year after this film was shot.
All the other extras are evry interesting, including the feature length documentary on Arthur Freed and the MGM years. It's very interesting, and very nostalgic.
Oh, look. Just buy it! You'll be happy with it, I'm sure. I just hope Warners and the others continue to go back to the classics in their vaults and give them this kind of treatment, if for nothing more than posterity.
I may be the first one to review the Blu-ray release of Singin' in the Rain, and I will be brief: SPECTACULAR!!!. The restoration of the picture (4K) and the DTS multi-channel English track will knock your socks off!
This 60 year old classic looks like it was just filmed, except in glorious TECHNICOLOR. For those of us who were lucky to see revivals of this film in theatres with prints from the IB Technicolor masters, it is such a joy to see this quality in our own home theaters looking so beautiful. For the newer film fans who have only seen this movie on a TV screen, you don't know what you are missing. This is a classic you MUST see on the largest screen you can possibly view it on. There aren't many extras , and the trailer is standard definition, but the most important thing for me is the absolutely stunning quality of the main feature. I recommend this release on Blu-ray. It is the closest to classic movie heaven you will get!!.
This is one of the best movies ever made. With a talented cast consisting of Gene Kelley, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O'Connor you can't go wrong. There are so many unforgettable scenes in this movie that no one could ever touch. Gene Kelley singing and dancing his way thru the neighborhood to Singin in the Rain, and all three companionably working their magic to Good Mornin.