TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 August 2014
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN  [60th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition] [Blu-ray + DVD Bonus Features] M-G-M’s Technicolor Musical Treasure! M-G-M’s Singing, Swinging, Glorious Feeling Musical!
Silent films are giving way to talking pictures and a hoofer-turned-matinee idol [Gene Kelly] is caught in that bumpy transition, as are his buddy Cosmo Brown [Donald O’Connor], prospective ladylove [Debbie Reynolds] and shrewish co-star Lina Lamont [Jean Hagen]. Rediscover the musical masterpiece. See ‘Singin’ in the Rain,’ in a dazzling, restored high definition, featuring an all-new documentary special feature that salutes not only just this all-time favourite film, but also the musical legacy of its producer and songwriter Arthur Freed.
FILM FACT: For her role as Lina Lamont, Jean Hagen was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The film was also nominated for a Best Original Music Score. Donald O'Connor won a Golden Globe for this film. Adolph Green and Betty Comden received the Writers Guild of America for the best written American musical.
Cast: Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchell, Cyd Charisse, Douglas Fowley, Rita Moreno, Dawn Addams (uncredited), Betty Allen (uncredited), Sue Allen (uncredited), Marie Ardell (uncredited), Bette Arlen (uncredited), Marcella Becker (uncredited), David Blair (uncredited), Chet Brandenburg (uncredited), Gwen Carter (uncredited), Bill Chatham (uncredited), Mae Clarke (uncredited), Dorinda Clifton (uncredited), Pat Conway (uncredited), Jeanne Coyne (uncredited), Fred Datig Jr. (uncredited), Bert Davidson (uncredited), Robert Dayo (uncredited), Patricia Denise (uncredited), Gloria DeWerd (uncredited), Marietta Elliott (uncredited), Betty Erbes (uncredited), Luigi Faccuito (uncredited), Ernie Flatt (uncredited), Robert Fortier (uncredited), Kathleen Freeman (uncredited), Lance Fuller (uncredited), Jeanne Gail (uncredited), Jack George (uncredited), Shirley Glickman (uncredited), Betty Hannon (uncredited), Joyce Horne (uncredited), Don Hulbert (uncredited), Patricia Jackson (uncredited), Ivor James (uncredited), Jimmy Kelly (uncredited), Joi Lansing (uncredited), Janet Lavis (uncredited), Virginia Lee (uncredited), Bill Lewin (uncredited), Sylvia Lewis (uncredited), John Logan (uncredited), Shirley Lopez (uncredited), Joan Maloney (uncredited), Paul Maxey (uncredited), Dorothy McCarty (uncredited), Ann McCrea (uncredited), Joseph Mell (uncredited), Sheila Meyers (uncredited), Gloria Moore (uncredited), Peggy Murray (uncredited), Sally Musick (uncredited), Anne Neyland (uncredited), 'Snub' Pollard (uncredited), Shirley Jean Rickert (uncredited), Joanne Rio (uncredited), Joel Robinson (uncredited), Joette Robinson (uncredited), Paul Salata (uncredited), Audrey Saunders (uncredited), William Schallert (uncredited), Betty Scott (uncredited), Brick Sullivan (uncredited), Harry Tenbrook (uncredited), Jimmy Thompson (uncredited), Dee Turnell (uncredited), Tyra Vaughn (uncredited), Tommy Walker (uncredited), Audrey Washburn (uncredited), Bobby Watson (uncredited), Chalky Williams (uncredited), Wilson Wood (uncredited), Norma Zimmer (uncredited) and Julius Tannen (Man in Talking Pictures Demonstration) (uncredited)
Directors: Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen
Producers: Arthur Freed and Roger Edens (uncredited)
Screenplay: Adolph Green and Betty Comden
Composers: Arthur Freed (lyrics), Nacio Herb Brown (music) and Lennie Hayton (uncredited)
Cinematography: Harold Rosson
Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, Spanish: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, Portuguese: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, German: 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, Italian: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, Czech: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono and Polish: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German SDH, Italian SDH, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Russian and Swedish
Running Time: 98 minutes
Region: Blu-ray: All Regions + DVD: Region B/2 [PAL]
Number of discs: 3
Studio: Warner Home Video
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘Singin' in the Rain’  is one of the most-loved and celebrated film musicals of all time from M-G-M, before a mass exodus to filmed adaptations of Broadway plays emerged as a standard pattern. It was made directly for film, and was not a Broadway adaptation.
The joyous film, co-directed by Stanley Donen and acrobatic dancer-star-choreographer Gene Kelly, is a charming, up-beat, graceful and thoroughly enjoyable experience with great songs, and lots of flashbacks, wonderful dances, including the spectacular Broadway Melody Ballet with leggy guest star Cyd Charisse, casting and story. This was another extraordinary example of the organic, 'integrated musical' in which the story's characters naturally express their emotions in the midst of their lives. Song and dance replace the dialogue, usually during moments of high spirits or passionate romance. And over half of the film is a 'let's put on a play' type of film, is composed of musical numbers.
This superb film, called "M-G-M's Technicolor Musical Treasure," was produced during MGM studios' creative pinnacle. From the late 1930s to the early 1960s, producer Arthur Freed produced more than forty musicals for M-G-M. The creative forces at the studio in the Arthur Freed Unit and composed of Arthur Freed, Vincente Minnelli, Stanley Donen, and actor/choreographer Gene Kelly also collaborated together to produce of other top M-G-M Musical classics.
The plot of the film is actually an autobiography of Hollywood itself at the dawn of the talkies. The story is about a dashing, smug but romantic silent film star and swashbuckling matinee idol Don Lockwood [Gene Kelly] and his glamorous blonde screen partner/diva Lina Lamont [Jean Hagen] who is expected, by studio heads, to pretend to be romantically involved with each other. They are also pressured by the studio boss R.F. Simpson [Millard Mitchell] to change their silent romantic drama ‘The Duelling Cavalier’ and make their first sound picture, renamed as the musical ‘The Dancing Cavalier.’ There's one serious problem, however the temperamental, narcissistic star has a shrill, screechy New York accent. The star's ex-song-and-dance partner Cosmo Brown [Donald O’Connor] proposes to turn the doomed film into a musical, and suggests that Don's aspiring actress and ingénue dancer-girlfriend Kathy Selden [Debbie Reynolds] dub in her singing voice behind the scenes for lip-synching Lina. The results of their scheming to expose the jealous Lina and put Kathy in a revealing limelight provide the film's expected happy resolution.
The film opens outside the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre at an exciting 1927 Hollywood film premiere. It is Monumental Pictures' opening night for its latest romantic, black and white swashbuckler, The Royal Rascal, starring two successful silent film stars, Don Lockwood [Gene Kelly] and his leading lady, a beautiful blonde bombshell Lina Lamont [Jean Hagen] understudy for another quintessential, squeaky-voiced dumb blonde named Billie Dawn, portrayed by Judy Holliday in the Broadway production of ‘Born Yesterday’ and in the subsequent film ‘Born Yesterday’ . One of the fans in the crowd holds up Screen Digest, a fan magazine with Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont pictured on the cover with the story titled: "Lockwood and Lamont – Reel Life or Real Life Romance?" The tabloids exaggerate their relationship and presenting them as virtually engaged.
A Louella Parsons-like radio interviewer Dora Bailey [Madge Blake] announces the arrivals of all the stars. The first limousines pull up at the show with lesser stars and their escorts, as fans cheer, anticipating the arrival of the major stars. Finally, Hollywood's favourite romantic team/couple of silent films, Don and Lina, arrive and they are announced as "those romantic lovers of the screen." As they step out of their limousine, he is wearing a totally white, belted polo coat and white felt hat, and Lina has on a glittering light silvery-green gown and fur-collared stole. They are greeted with tremendous cheers from the fans, and the interviewer's words about the gorgeous couple: "They're a household name all over the world, like bacon and eggs."
Then, in flashback, he reminisces for the listening public, in exaggerated fashion, about his life story and rise to the top in show business. Don Lockwood [Gene Kelly] tells of his early pre-Hollywood days, dancing school, rigorous musical training at the conservatory of fine arts, and many performances with his vaudeville partner/musician Cosmo Brown [Donald O’Connor]. The narrative images on the screen belie every embellished, fabricated word he speaks in reality, the pictures and descriptions are terribly disjointed. [The film's theme is the 'out of sync' disjunction of words / sounds / film images from reality and what can be believed in the magical world of film? Can we believe our eyes and our ears?] What actually happened to Cosmo and Don is seen entirely differently as an uphill struggle for two musicians/performers.
Enter vivacious flapper Kathy Selden [Debbie Reynolds], who Don Lockwood meets by chance one evening after he flees a flock of rabid fans. The spunky Kathy Selden isn't intimidated by Don Lockwood's aura, and he quickly becomes smitten. The jealous Lina Lamont, however, much to Don's chagrin, tries to shoot down Kathy Selden's rising star, just as the advent of talkies turns the movie industry upside down and puts the career of squeaky-voiced Lina Lamont in jeopardy. But Don Lockwood, his best pal Cosmo Brown [Donald O’Connor] and Kathy Selden hatch a plan that just might work to everyone's ultimate advantage. Or will it?
Though the script makes good-natured fun of a host of Hollywood foibles from splashy premieres, backstage backstabbing, and oversized egos to stuffy elocution experts, creative short-sightedness, and performer stereotypes at its core, 'Singin' in the Rain' is a sweet, naive love story played with winning earnestness by Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds. Forget the 20-year age difference; the pair crafts a believable relationship that's heightened by one of Gene Kelly's most relaxed and natural performances. At times, Debbie Reynolds might seem a tad too vivacious, but the game 19-year-old never seems daunted by her co-stars or overwhelmed by their substantial terpsichorean talent. As the wisecracking sidekick, Donald O'Connor garners his share of laughs, but it's Jean Hagen's priceless Lina Lamont who all but steals the show. Jean Hagen was a good dramatic actress, but her peerless comic timing, inflection, and no-holds-barred, over-the-top portrayal of the dumb, delusional, yet devious diva justly won critical raves and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.
The rollicking “Good Morning,” featuring more great tap-dancing and impish clowning, is a winner, too, as is the sprightly Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor duet “Fit as a Fiddle” and the quietly amorous “You Were Meant for Me.” And we surely can't forget the sensational “Broadway Ballet.” A shorter, more accessible, bouncier dance montage than Gene Kelly's opulent 'An American in Paris' ballet a year earlier, this jazzy, sexually charged, yet passionately romantic creation features Gene Kelly dancing with the exquisitely sleek and precise Cyd Charisse. The fireworks between them are extraordinary, and the pair burns up the screen in a sizzling mini-drama of seduction set to “Broadway Rhythm.”
'Singin' in the Rain' has no message or moral beyond love conquers all or good triumphs over evil, and it didn't advance the art of musical moviemaking. Gene Kelly and his co-director, Stanley Donen, writers Betty Comden and Adolph Green, the accomplished cast, and the M-G-M dream factory merely take the traditional musical blueprint and produce the ultimate offering, a film whose sole purpose is entertainment and singular goal is to send its audience walking home on air. And it succeeds brilliantly on both counts. The lack of pretension, mystifying talent, and sheer joy that emanate from every frame of 'Singin' in the Rain' are what make this beloved film so tremendous and so worthy of repeat viewings. Is it the greatest musical ever made? Yes of course it is and I will not have any negative comments saying it is not darn close.
Blu-ray Video Quality – 'Singin' in the Rain' was the first Warner film to be restored using the Ultra-Resolution process back in 2002, and the results were extraordinary. The re-master Blu-ray, however, didn't meet high-definition standards, so for this Blu-ray edition, the studio went back to a set of fine grain masters, the original negative was destroyed in a fire in the late 1970s and struck a 4k scan. Once again, the results are often breath-taking high-definition transfer and 'Singin' in the Rain' looks spectacular. Colours, contrast, and clarity are all totally superb. And what glorious colours they are! Designer Walter Plunkett went the extra mile replicating the outlandish flapper outfits of the late 1920s, and the purples, pinks, emerald greens, and sunny yellows truly pop. Sequins, fringe, and feathers are also beautifully defined, and difficult patterns, such as the green and white plaid suits that O'Connor and Kelly don in the 'Fit as a Fiddle' number, are rock solid and resist shimmering. Kelly's yellow vest and Syd Charisse's sparkly green mini-dress in the “Broadway Ballet” add pleasing accents to the picture, as do all the costumes of the dance extras, each of which possesses its own distinct sense of retro style. Black levels are rich and inky, but crush is never an issue, and whites, such as Hagen's outfit in the opening premiere segment, are bright but stable. Flesh tones lean a bit toward the ruddy end of the scale in certain scenes, but on the whole are true to life. Background elements are always easy to discern (the all-important rain is brilliantly clear, with individual drops possessing more clarity than ever before), and close-ups ooze Hollywood glamour without appearing overly artificial. Some scenes look a shade softer than others, but the gradation is so slight, most eyes won't even see it. Warner Home Video has always been careful to present classic films as close to their original look as possible, and with 'Singin' in the Rain' they've done a first-class job. We've waited a long time for this title to be released on Blu-ray, and our patience hasn't been in vain.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Warner Home Video also has done a great job fashioning a high-quality 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix for this musical classic. 'Singin' in the Rain' was produced before the advent of stereo, so naturally most of the sound is front-based, but the fidelity and tonal depth are so crisp and warm, there's a marvellous surround feel to this track. A wide dynamic scale, featuring bright, crystalline highs and weighty lows, maximize vocal and instrumental intensity while showcasing subtleties with ease. Both Debbie Reynolds' brassy delivery and Gene Kelly's delicate tenor come across cleanly, and the “Broadway Ballet” scoring is alternately vibrant and nuanced, as screaming trumpets and swelling strings fill the room without a hint of distortion. Atmospherics, such as the pouring rain, street noise, and the film set ambience, are solid, too distinct, but not overpowering and every toe tap is crisp and synchronised. The audio in the early talkie sequences is especially well balanced, possessing the appropriate degree of roughness without delving too far into caricature. The clanking of Lina Lamont's pearls, and the clomping of footsteps, and the general imperfections of rudimentary sound recording, such as static, hiss, pops, crackles, are all meticulously rendered. Thankfully, no age-related defects afflict the rest of the picture, as Warner technicians have scrubbed this track clean. Dialogue is always well prioritised and easy to comprehend, as are song lyrics, and the musical sequences benefit from a slight level boost that enhances the excitement and vigour of each number. For a 60-year-old film, 'Singin' in the Rain' sounds surprisingly contemporary, and those who appreciate Golden Age Musicals will be thrilled by this track. If like me, you own the Ultimate Collector's Editions of 'The Wizard of Oz' in 3D, you will be familiar with the scope and size of this Limited and numbered 60th Anniversary package is simply illustrated with a white box cover that lists specs and supplement info. Inside lies a full-size, beautiful 48-page, lavishly illustrated hardcover book that features many rare photos, shooting logs, and well-written text. The film's production history, brief bios of the principals and key supporting players, a behind-the-scenes look at many of the film's numbers, and a list of both changes to the script and deletions after the picture's previews are all included within the pages of this absorbing and beautifully designed volume. The 3 discs are housed in a fold-out, full-colour blue case, and on the back it features publicity photos of Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, as well as various scenes from the film. The Blu-ray disc houses the main feature in a beautiful encoded 1080p image with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, an audio commentary, the original theatrical trailer, and an all-new documentary, while a Region B/2 DVD disc contains the film in standard definition. Plus included is the ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Compact Disc with 26 amazing tracks.
Blu-ray and DVD Special Features and Extras:
Audio Commentary: Here we get Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, Stanley Donen, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Baz Luhrmann and Rudy Behlmer: Sometimes with an audio commentary, too many cooks spoil the broth but not here. Debbie Reynolds "hosts" this highly interesting conglomeration of reflections and analysis by co-stars Donald O'Connor and Cyd Charisse, co-director Stanley Donen, writers Betty Comden and Adolph Green, featured player Kathleen Freeman, director Baz Luhrmann, and film historian Rudy Behlmer. Sadly, many of the participants have passed away since recording this discussion in 2002, but it just makes us more appreciative with this audio record exists at all. Betty Comden and Adolph Green talk about the difficulty of fashioning a film around the Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown musical catalogue; Donal O'Connor recalls how his classic 'Make 'Em Laugh' number came together; Rudy Behlmer relays a cornucopia of fascinating facts, including abandoned numbers and concepts, the proposed casting of Oscar Levant as Cosmo Brown, and how the film's original nitrate negative was destroyed by fire; and the rest of the participants share fond memories of Gene Kelly and Arthur Freed. My only complaint is that Debbie Reynolds barely contributes, other than to introduce the various speakers. Why aren't her memories worthy of more air time? Other than that small gripe, this is a first-class commentary that's well worth the time of fans and newbies alike.
Special Feature Documentary: Singin' in the Rain: Raining on a New Generation [1080p] [51:00] This all-new documentary includes comments from such contemporary musical figures as Matthew Morrison, Paula Abdul, Rob Marshall, Adam Shankman, Usher, and Baz Luhrmann, among others, all of whom reflect on their personal experience with the iconic film; discuss its wide-ranging influence, inimitable style, and amazing choreography; salutes Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor; and marvel over the spectacular numbers. Interestingly, the film clips used in this breezy, somewhat superficial piece look rather banged up. Why the restored footage couldn't have been inserted instead remains a mystery.
Special Feature: Juke Box Jump-to-Song Feature: This handy feature allows 'Singin' in the Rain' fans to access their favourite musical numbers with a remote click. You can create custom playlists or use the "play all" button for a stimulating concert.
Theatrical Trailer [4:00] This is the original preview for 'Singin' in the Rain' is included.
Special Feature: Musicals Great Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit at M-G-M  [86:00] This absorbing, clip-filled 1996 documentary is part of the 'Great Performances' series on PBS which salutes arguably the finest producer of movie musicals in the history of cinema. Many dignitaries, such as dancer Cyd Charisse, actor Mickey Rooney, composer Andre Previn, choreographer Michael Kidd, writers Betty Comden and Adolph Green, dancer Ann Miller, director Stanley Donen, actress Leslie Caron, and others recall the man, his method of assembling talent, how he transformed a pedestrian genre into a bona fide art form, and his distinctive film creations. A marvellous array of excerpts from such classics as 'The Wizard of Oz,' 'Meet Me in St. Louis,' 'An American in Paris,' 'The Band Wagon,' 'Gigi,' and of course 'Singin' in the Rain,' among many others, illustrate Arthur Freed's artistry and further cement his already lofty reputation. Musicals fans will be enthralled by this balanced, involving tribute.
Special Feature: Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed Film Excerpts: Where the Songs Originated [50:00] I'm a sucker for film musical history, so this collection of a dozen original performances of Freed-Brown songs used in 'Singin' in the Rain' from various movies of the 1920s and 1930s is right up my alley. Stars such as Bing Crosby, Eleanor Powell, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, and Jeanette MacDonald perform the numbers. There are some real rarities here, so classic film buffs should definitely check this line-up out. Composer Nacio Herb Brown [1896-1964] and lyricist Arthur Freed [1894-1973] started writing songs together in 1921. When sound came to motion pictures in 1927, the pair were doing a series of small stage revues at the Music Box Theatre in Hollywood. M-G-M immediately signed them up, taking one of the songs, ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ and featuring it in the early movie musical ‘The Hollywood Revue of 1929.’ Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed continued on staff at M-G-M through the 1930s, with song hits including “All I Do is Dream of You,” “Temptation,” “You Are My Lucky Star,” “Broadway Melody,” “Pagan Love Song” and “You Were Meant for Me.” In 1939, Arthur Freed served as an associate producer of M-G-M’s ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ during the production of which he convinced studio head Louis B Mayer to put him in charge of a division to produce movie musicals. The Freed Unit made such classics as ‘Meet Me in St Louis,’ ‘An American in Paris,’ ‘The Band Wagon’ and ‘Gigi.’ Most popular of all was the 1952 film ‘Singin’ in the Rain,’ with a score featuring songs from the early Nacio Herb Brown Brown-Arthur Freed catalogue.
Special Feature Documentary: What a Glorious Feeling: The Making of 'Singin' in the Rain'  [36:00] Debbie Reynolds also hosts this 2002 behind-the-scenes chronicle and produced for the film's 50th Anniversary. Though many of the comments by Donal O'Connor, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Stanley Donen, Rudy Behlmer and others also are included in the audio commentary, this is still a fresh and informative piece. It also offers us the chance to hear Reynolds share her memories of working on the film and her fondness for her legendary co-star and the valuable lessons he taught her.
Special Feature: You Are My Lucky Star: Musical Number Outtake [4:00] This solo number by Debbie Reynolds, strangely reminiscent of Judy Garland's “Dear Mr. Gable (You Made Me Love You)” from 'Broadway Melody of 1938,' was cut before the film's release. It's in fine shape here, but it would have been nice if Warner Bros. had re-mastered it in high definition for this release.
Special Feature: Scoring Stage Sessions: This audio vault houses 26 pre-recordings of musical material from 'Singin' in the Rain,' including unused versions and drafts that were altered before filming.
Special Feature: Stills Gallery: Eighteen images, all in black-and-white, and are a mix of candid publicity shots, costume sketches, hair and makeup tests, and behind-the-scenes.
BONUS CD: Includes the ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Compact Disc with amazing 26 tracks.
BONUS Plus: A beautiful designed 48 Page commemorative booklet highlighting the behind-the-scenes history of how the classic musical made it to the big screen
Finally, what a glorious feeling! 'Singin' in the Rain' at last arrives on Blu-ray and Warner Home Video honours this immortal musical with a fitting ultimate collector's edition that features eye-popping video, excellent audio, and a shower of high-quality extras that will thrill the film's legion of fans. While the enclosed collectible umbrella is an unnecessary bit of swag, the rest of this marvellous set hits the bull’s eye and is well worth the interminable wait, as well as the hefty price tag. Certain classic films demand the red-carpet treatment like 'The Wizard of Oz' lead the charge and 'Singin' in the Rain' is one of them. Filled with humour, great songs, spirited performances, and some of the best dancing you'll ever see on film, this musical icon remains fresh and exhilarating 60 years after its initial release, and demands a spot on every cinema lover's shelf. You'll walk down the lane with a happy refrain every time you experience 'Singin' in the Rain,' especially in stunning awesome encoded 1080p image and one more reason this set is a definite must-own! And that is why it has gone great honours to now be added to my other Gene Kelly and massive awesome Hollywood Magic Musical Blu-ray Collection. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom