SINGIN' IN THE RAIN: 50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
It is 1927 and Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are (silent) movie stars, whose adulating public believes their on screen romance is more than that. Lamont is the dumb blonde who inspired the jokes and her high pitched voice is worse than an alley cat on heat. Believing her own publicity, Lamont thinks that she and Lockwood are really an item, but for Lockwood, it's all for show. Besides, he has just met Kathy (Debbie Reynolds) and it’s love at first sight. But there's heartache in paradise and piano player Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor) uses his innovation to solve all the problems from the studio to those of the heart.
Review by Louise Keller:
Some say it is the greatest musical ever made, but even if you have another favourite, Singin’ in the Rain is definitely one of the happiest musicals of all times, with arguably the most original dance routine ever. The sheer genius of Gene Kelly's Singin' in the Rain routine as he splashes in the puddles and exudes sheer joie de vivre is one of the great moments of cinema. It's the perfect extension of expression and emotion in the shape and form of dance.
The boy meets girl story is timeless, while the performances from Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds are unforgettable. O'Connor's manages to make his Make 'Em Laugh routine look so easy and we marvel as we watch his face and body contort in all directions. Good Mornin', You Were Meant for Me, You Are My Lucky Star are some of the classic tunes that will keep your toes tappin' and your heart singin’. There are plenty of laughs and the set up when Lamont's shrill voice appears to come from Lockwood's mouth and visa versa, when the voices are out of sync, is priceless.
Re-mastered with all-new digital transfers, this two disc 50th Anniversary edition is truly a collector’s item. The transfer is superb with sharp images, true colour and pure sound. Made in 1952, the film was shot in the 4:3 Academy format, as were most films before 1954 when Cinemascope was introduced.
Apart from the film itself, the main feature on Disc 1 is an extraordinary commentary featuring cast members Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Cyd Charisse, Rita Moreno, Kathleen Freeman, plus screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green, film historian Rudy Behlmer, co-director Stanley Donen and filmmaker Baz Luhrman. The first thing that I noticed is how young Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor sound. For anyone who is remotely interested in this film, or indeed the Hollywood musical, listening to this commentary is an absolute treat. Writers Betty Comden and Adolph Green reminisce about how they were summoned to MGM and asked to write the script for the film. All they knew was that there would be a scene where someone would be singing and it would be raining, they recall. But all the commentary is fascinating – from Donald O’Connor’s recollection of how ‘Make ‘em Laugh’ was staged to Cyd Charisse’s tales of how Debbie Reynolds went home crying every night, such was the pressure of learning to dance.
Disc Two offers plenty of fascinating features including two full-length documentaries. The first, Musicals Great Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit at MGM, includes clips from many of the musicals of the day, including An American in Paris and Broadway Melody, as well as interviews. The second feature is the 30 minute documentary, What a Glorious Feeling, in which we meet Debbie Reynolds on the lot where the film was shot. Looking fabulous in cobalt blue, she says that at time of shooting, they had no idea it would become a classic, and talks about the origin of the song Singin’ in the Rain and the evolution of the Hollywood musical and talking movies. You may be interested to listen to some of the tunes in the Scoring Stage Sessions, which include various takes of different songs. There’s plenty of interesting material and this classic two disc DVD will wile away many happy hours.
Published November 21, 2002
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SINGIN' IN THE RAIN: 50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION (PG)
(US - 1952)
CAST: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen
DIRECTOR: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16 X 9
SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc One: Commentary with Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Cyd Charise, Rita Moreno and others; Reel Sound; Singin’ Inspirations; Trailer; Awards; Cast & Crew;
Disc Two: ‘What a Glorious Feeling’ documentary, Sound Stage Sessions, Musical Great Musi cals: The Arthur Freed Unit at MGM documentary; Excerpts of movies from which Arthur Freed/Nacio Herb Brown songs originated; Outtake musical number; Stills gallery
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video
DVD RELEASE: November 6, 2002