SINGIN' IN THE RAIN
Review by Michael Jacobson
Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Millard
Mitchell, Cyd Charisse July 17, 2012
Directors: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Full Frame 1.37:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 103 Minutes
July 17, 2012
think I am, dumb or somethin’? Why,
I make more money than Calvin Coolidge…PUT TOGETHER!”
in the Rain…what
a glorious feeling.
been called the greatest of all movie musicals, and even that’s something of
an understatement. Francois
Truffaut named it his favorite film, and indeed, fans, critics and filmmakers
alike have kept this sunny MGM offering a top ten favorite for fifty years now.
It’s the kind of picture that you’ll never forget the first time you
saw it, and if you’re lucky, like me, you’ll get to be there when others see
it for their first time.
a beautiful Technicolor masterpiece, an incredible collection of dances and
songs, a fall-down-funny comedy, and a glorified look back at one of
Hollywood’s most troubled eras: the
arrival of sound. Movie stars who
once made their names without ever uttering a syllable were finding that they
didn’t have the voice to carry one of the new talking pictures.
this story, the arrival of talkies even threatens the legendary screen team of
Don Lockwood (the inimitable Kelly) and Lina Lamont (the brilliant Hagen).
Sound is an awkward transition for both, but especially for Lina, whose
lovely face belies a voice that could shatter glass.
the meantime, Don finds himself falling for a young starlet, Kathy Selden (a
stunning 19 year old Reynolds), who first puts him in his place, and then later
gives him the confidence he needs to reclaim his good name.
With her help, and the steadfast support of his lifelong friend Cosmo
Brown (the dapper O’Connor), Don gets ready to re-invent his image for the new
era. The only problem?
What to do with Lina…
story is wonderful, and much more than an excuse to string together a collection
of song and dance numbers. An
amazing accomplishment for screenwriters Adolph Green and Betty Comden,
considering their assignment was simply to create a film for producer/songwriter
Arthur Freed to showcase his classic songs!
And WHAT a body of songs, each one presented with unforgettable images to
accompany them. Who could forget
the fashion play of “Beautiful Girls”, the flapper number “All I Do Is
Dream of You”, the lovely “You Were Meant For Me”, the spirited “Good
Morning”, and many more.
two numbers have become indelibly etched into motion picture history.
Donald O’Connor offers one of the most frantically funny showstoppers
ever to come from out of the movies. “Make
‘Em Laugh” showcases his talents for singing, dancing, and comical
acrobatics at the same time, and often leaves first time viewers catching their
breath. And “Singin’ in the
Rain”…wow. Quite simply, Gene
Kelly’s legendary solo dance number is the movies’ most eloquent moment.
“Broadway Melody” is a strange but beautiful sidetrack…enticing enough to
make you forget for a moment that there’s a whole other story going on while
this colorful fantasy unfolds. Who
could forget the curvaceous Cyd Charisse as she taunts and teases her way into
and out of Kelly’s heart? Their
dance with Charisse’s long white veil is technical perfection, as both stars
grace their across a vast stage and create visual art with their movements.
short, it’s no one aspect that makes Singin’ in the Rain the most
beloved of all movie musicals. It’s
an incredible collection of individual parts that miraculously makes for
something even greater their sum. It’s
amazing stars at the height of their talent, it’s a story filled with laughter
and romance, it’s a collection of great songs, it’s amazing dancing, it’s
a kaleidoscope of sights and sounds. Like
a soufflé, it came from the oven as absolute perfection, and like a great wine,
it’s gotten even better with age.
no matter how old the audience gets, it’s the kind of picture that makes us
feel eternally young. Happy again,
owned four versions of this movie on disc now, and I’ve always thought it
looked great. But this new high
definition transfer proves that even greatness can be improved. This Technicolor offering looks absolutely stunning; not one
color is faded, not one image is distorted, not one detail is misplaced or
marred. I frankly can’t imagine
this film looking any better at its 1952 premiere than it does right here.
A benchmark for classic film restoration!
I was a little less enchanted by this new uncompressed mix...it sounds clean, but dialogue was rendered strangely low in volume; I found I had to crank it up during the non-musical parts, and then back down again so that the music wasn't overwhelming. The music sounds wonderful, but this lack of proper balance is a bit troubling.
those who love this movie as much as I do, this disc boasts a joyful
package of extras. The commentary
track is one of the year’s best, hosted by Debbie Reynolds and featuring the
recollections of writers Green and Comden, stars O’Connor, Charisse and Kath
Freeman, co-director Stanley Donen, film historian Rudy Behlmer, and movie maker
Baz Luhrmann. Though not recorded
at the same session, the editing is flawless and the number of participants make
this a fascinating, fun track that covers the film from every angle, from those
who participated in it to those who have admired it.
There is also a new documentary reflecting back on the magic of the film, featuring many of today's top choreographers discussing the influence. Rounding out is a trailer.
I can only say in conclusion what I said starting out…what a glorious feeling. Singin’ in the Rain is one of the crown jewels to ever emerge from the Hollywood studio system, and for its countless fans, this Blu-ray from Warner Bros. is an absolutely dream come true. If you own a Blu-ray player, you have to own this disc…it’s that simple.