It's been over a decade since I've seen Singin' in the Rain. I
remember that I liked the film a lot and when it was announced that
Brothers were going to create a Ultimate Collector's Edition for the
was sure it was something I'd pick up.
Screening the film again, I was surprised at just how
good it was. I had
forgotten what an amazing dance Gene Kelly was, and how stunning the
numbers are in this film. With solid
acting and a thin but enjoyable plot (that's strikingly similar to the
plot of The Artist) to hold everything together,
this film deserves its reputation as the greatest musical to come out
This was a jukebox film; a movie where they took hit songs
from other musicals and strung them together, adding a plot almost as
afterthought. With that pedigree, it's a
bit surprising that the plot is an engaging as it is.
Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) is a huge silent movie star.
Along with his partner, Lina Lamont (Jean
Hagen), they're two of the biggest box office draws in Hollywood.
At the premier of their latest film, Don bumps into Kathy Selden
Reynolds) a spunky young girl who happens to be a struggling actress. Don is enthralled by her energy and
determination, but Lina (who isn't too bright and believes the
magazines that claim Don is in love with her, though nothing could be
from the truth) hates the girl and pulls some strings to get her fired
Don feels responsible and spends weeks looking for Kathy,
pulling in his childhood friend, Cosmo (Donald O'Connor), to aid in the
search. She's finally located, but just
as Don finds her his life is thrown for a loop.
Fox has released The Jazz Singer
will never be the same. Talking pictures
are all the rage. Lockwood and Lamont
are no longer the bankable stars they once were since the abrasive Lina
voice like nails on a chalkboard. Shrill
and piercing with a thick Brooklyn
there's no way she'll be able to make the transition to sound.
They try anyway, and after much difficulty get their latest
historical epic in the can. On the night
of the preview though, things go badly.
Bad sound and dialog that looks better on a title card than
loud turns the picture into a farce and the audience laughs at the
drama. It's clear that Lockwood's career
is over, until Kathy and Cosmo come up with a bright idea.
This is a magnificent film, not because of the plot, which
is fine and is filled with some great comedy, but because of the
dance numbers. Having watched more than
my share of music videos, I was astounded by the singing and dancing. The cast not only dances wonderfully, but
they film the musical numbers with incredibly long takes.
This wasn't some MTV offering where going 5
seconds without an edit is unheard of. These
takes are long and edits are infrequent.
Just watch the title song sometime, (and Kelly had a 101+ degree
when he filmed it, reportedly in one take!) and you'll be amazed at how
song is pieced together. In the most
impressive number, Good Morning, Gene
Kelly, Donald O'Conner and Debbie Reynolds will dance across a room and
flight of stairs unedited and in unison.
That's unheard of today, and very, very
impressive. Then there's also the big
finale number where Gene Kelly dances with Cyd Charisse who has an
long train blowing in the wind. The pair
dance so wonderfully that it's not until after the number that you're
with how difficult it must be to dance with a prop like that.
Aside from the peppy music and gorgeous dancing, the movie's
very funny too. Of course everyone
remembers Donald O'Connors hilarious Make
'em Laugh song, but the script is filled with quick,
that add to the fun of the picture. For
example, when Don is looking for Kathy after she gets in trouble he
the chorus dressing room and asks for her:
Don Lockwood: Where'd Miss Selden go?
Female dancer: She just grabbed her things and bolted.
Anything I can do?
Don Lockwood: Sorry, I don't have time to find out.
It's a joke that if you're not paying attention, you'll
Another reason for the movie's appeal is Gene Kelly's
character and acting ability. Though
he's playing a big movie star, Kelly comes across like a regular
guy. He falls for a girl in the chorus,
of course, but he also isn't afraid to get dirty, or wet, and has
pleasures. He seems like the guy next
door, only one who can dance like no one else.
That's not to say the film is perfect. They
did have to shoehorn some things into
the movie. The big dance number near the
end, Broadway Rhythm Ballet, doesn't
really fit with the
costume drama set in medieval France,
but they come up with an excuse to throw it into the picture. Given that the songs came first and the story
was fashioned around them, it's pretty amazing that it holds together
well. You won't notice the discrepancies
until after the credits roll.
This is another one of Warners "Ultimate Collector's
Editions." If you've seen their previous
sets, Gone with the Wind, Ben-Hur, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate
The Wizard of Oz, you know they create a fantastic package of extras to
along with the feature film, and this set is no exception.
This time they've included a 48-page hard
cover book with photos, biographies of the cast, and production memos,
(smallish) reproduction of theatrical posters, and even (and this is my
favorite touch) an umbrella. The movie
itself is presented on a Blu-ray disc and a DVD, and there's also a DVD
extras. All of this comes in a very
attractive, numbered, white box. There
is a clear plastic slipcover patterned with raindrops that slides over
whole thing adding a perfect finishing touch.
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track reproduces the music and dialog
wonderfully. The mix is excellent, with
the songs coming though with force but not overpowering the dialog. The background if free of hiss and other
background noises and the music has a nice wide dynamic range. WB did a great job.
The 1.37:1 color image has been restored at 4K resolution
and the results are fantastic. There are
absolutely not scratches or dirt present on the print.
The colors are bright and solid, the whites
are strong without being crushed, and the blacks are nice and inky. You can compare this with the unrestored
that's shown in the new HD documentary and there's a world of
The new bonus that's included in this collection is 'Singin'
in the Rain': Raining on a New
Generation, a nearly hour-long look at how this film influenced the
crop of hoofers and choreographers. At
first I was disappointed in this docu.
It starts out with some of the people involved with Glee
and High School the
Musical talking about the first time they saw this seminal film. Yeah, as if I care. Stick
with it though. As the feature progresses
dancers start to discuss why Singin' in
the Rain is such a classic picture.
They point out impressive bits from the film that non-dancers
myself) are likely to miss and do a good job of putting the film in its
historical context. It's actually a very
good look at the movie and shouldn't be missed.
All of the extras from the 2002 SE DVD release have been
ported over to this set too, albeit still in SD. These
include a commentary track with a very
impressive group including Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor, Cyd
Kathleen Freeman, Stanley Donen, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Baz
Rudy Behlmer. Whew!
Video bonuses include an hour-and-a-half 1996 PBS
documentary Musicals Great Musicals: The
Arthur Freed Unit at MGM, a half-hour look at the creation of the
film, What a Glorious Feeling: The Making of
'Singin' in the Rain', and a series of Nacio Herb Brown/Arthur
excerpts. This last item is a collection
of 12 film clips that runs nearly an hour in length showing clips from
movies where the songs in this film originated.
It's a lot of fun and a nice addition.
But wait, as they used to say in Ronco commercials, there's
more! The Extras DVD also has a reel of
production stills from the film, there's a trailer in HD, an outtake
song You're My Lucky Star, and a juke
box feature that lets you play the songs from the film.
It's a very complete set of extras and really
makes this a complete package.
A film that truly deserves its stellar reputation, Singin'
in the Rain is a great musical
and one of the best ever made. On top of
this it hasn't looked as good as it does on this Blu-ray disc since
original release. The 4K restoration is
excellent and the audio is clean and clear.
Add to that a complete roster of extra features and some great
packed in with the set, and it's easy to give this title the coveted DVDTalk Collectors Series rating.