Blu-ray Review Singin in the Rain: 60th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Cameron Yee, Jul 15, 2012.

  1. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    When it rains it pours. Gene Kelly and Stanely Donen’s musical masterpiece makes its debut on Blu-ray with an impeccable video transfer, great lossless audio track, and a fantastic set of special features.



    Release Date: July 17, 2012

    Studio: Warner Home Video

    Year: 1952

    Rating: G

    Running Time: 1:42:40

    MSRP: $84.99

    THE FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURES
    Video AVC: 1080p high definition 1.37:1 Standard and high definition
    Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: French 1.0, German 1.0, Italian 1.0, Castellano 1.0, Portuguese 1.0, Czech 1.0, Polish 1.0 Various
    Subtitles English SDH, French, German, Italian SDH, Castellano, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Magyar, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Swedish Various

    The Feature: 5/5


    Considered by many (including this reviewer) to be the greatest film musical to come out of Hollywood, “Singin’ in the Rain” has so much going for it, it’s hard to know where to begin.


    Conceived by MGM Studios producer Arthur Freed, written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and co-directed by Gene Kelly and Stanely Donen, the film is set in 1927 as the movie industry is about to experience a massive revolution with the introduction of “the talkie” – a moving picture with sound. It stars Kelly as Don Lockwood, a celebrated silent film star learning how to adapt to the new technology; Donald O’Connor as Cosmo Brown, his longtime friend and musical partner; and Debbie Reynolds as Kathy Selden, an up-and-coming actress tailor-made for the new era of movie making. Jean Hagen portrays the film’s primary antagonist – Lina Lamont, Don’s dimwitted and self-serving co-star, who will ultimately find it hard to survive in the world of talking pictures.


    With 1920s Hollywood as its backdrop, the movie is a pitch perfect send-up of that era’s movie making industry and celebrity culture; since many of those elements remain to this day, the movie has kept amazingly well over the last 60 years. As celebrity image-making, our fascination with the famous, and the influence of technology on film don’t seem like they’ll be going away any time soon, the movie will probably remain relevant for a long time to come.


    Viewed as a purely song-and-dance piece, the film is a phenomenal showcase of Kelly’s skills as a singer, actor, and dancer / dance choreographer, epitomized by his iconic “Singin’ in the Rain” number. It’s also a fantastic vehicle for O’Connor and Reynolds, who not only keep up, but at times verge on overshadowing him (see O’Connor’s “Make ‘Em Laugh” routine). Hagen’s role is kind of thankless, but without it the film would certainly lose many of its best comedic moments. A too-brief appearance by dancer Cyd Charisse also stands as one of the most indelible performances in film musical history.


    The songs used in the film, the majority of whose lyrics were originally written by Freed for previous MGM movies, are also cannily selected and integrated into the story. Though the term “jukebox musical” has a certain undistinguished air to it, there’s not many examples of one done so well or so memorably. So much so that most are surprised the songs didn’t originate with the film, though now they’ve been certainly immortalized by it.


    No doubt there’s plenty of competition for the title of “best” musical, but “Singin’ in the Rain” is definitely my favorite for its clever, and still-relevant, story combined with incomparable song and dance numbers. Outside of “Lawrence of Arabia” there’s probably no other title I’ve been looking forward to seeing on Blu-ray this year. Judging by the amount of activity in various HTF threads about the movie, I know I’m in good company.

    Video Quality: 4.5/5


    The 1080p, AVC-encoded transfer is properly framed at 1.37:1 and features excellent color depth and rendition, spot-on contrast, and impeccable black levels. Grain structure is intact, with a pleasing level of detail overall. There are some moments of softness, and a couple scenes (like the conversation following the “Good Mornin’” number) where it’s more apparent we’re looking at images generations removed from the original. However, most will be shocked to learn the entire transfer is up to four generations removed from the negative, as described in Robert Harris’s column on the subject. That the image looks as fine as it does after the loss of the negative, is indeed astonishing. If I were rating the video transfer based on the undoubted blood, sweat and technological wizardry behind it, it would get an easy “5/5.” But since I’m purely judging the final product and not the work put into it, a half-point from perfection seems like a fair estimation given the occasional, visible issues.

    Audio Quality: 4.5/5


    Dialogue in the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is consistently clear, detailed and intelligible. The musical numbers naturally benefit most from the lossless presentation, with strings and vocals sounding silky smooth. Surround activity is limited to some light support for the score, but sounds adequately balanced with the front channel activity. LFE is non-existent, but the track has a consistently pleasing depth and dynamic range. Purists may balk at the absence of a mono presentation, and indeed its omission is curious. However, the quality of the 5.1 track can’t be denied and most should find it quite pleasing.

    Special Features: 4.5/5


    The extras include the majority of the items from the 50th Anniversary Edition DVD, along with a new hour-long documentary. Put together the collection of material is in-depth, diverse and entertaining.


    The items exclusive to the Collector’s Edition amount to several physical items – a hardcover book, poster reproductions, and – of all things – an umbrella. Given the price of the set, most will find the exclusives a bit useless (though I personally can’t resist a high quality book), so it’s fortunate Warner is also releasing a Blu-ray only version for those who can do without all the “stuff.” For those who own the previous DVD release, this will essentially give them an equivalent set of discs, minus the physical materials.


    Audio Commentary: Debbie Reynolds serves as the moderator for a commentary track assembled from interviews with Donald O’Connor, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, co-director Stanley Donen, screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green, filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, and author/historian Rudy Behlmer. Some of the clips used will likely sound familiar after watching the 2002 making-of documentary, though hearing them in context with the film does provide an added dimension to the information.


    Singin’ in the Rain: Raining on a New Generation (50:41, HD): The new documentary features modern dancers, dance choreographers and directors talking about how the film inspired them and influenced their work. Analysis and evaluation of the sequences by dance professionals also provides some great insights into well-known scenes.


    Jukebox: Giving access to just the musical numbers, the jukebox feature allows the user to play all 17 selections, or pick and choose favorites. There’s also a function to save the selections for next time.


    Theatrical Trailer (4:07, SD)


    [DISC 2] Note: The second disc is a repressing of the second disc from the 50th Anniversary Edition DVD.


    Musicals Great Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit at MGM (1:26:03, SD): The feature-length documentary traces the history of the MGM musical, focusing on the work of producer Arthur Freed and his influence on films like “The Wizard of Oz,” “Meet Me in St. Louis,” “An American in Paris,” and “Singin’ in the Rain.” Produced in 1996, the piece features interviews with Freed’s daughter Barbara Saltzman, actors like Mickey Rooney and Leslie Caron, and creatives like Michael Kidd and André Previn.


    What a Glorious Feeling: The Making of Singin’ in the Rain (35:33, SD) Produced in 2002 and hosted by Debbie Reynolds, the documentary provides a history of the MGM musical, the inspiration for the film, its casting, and stories around the creation of key sequences. Interviews with Cyd Charisse, co-director Stanley Donen, and Reynold’s own anecdotes give the piece a great personal touch.


    Excerpts from Features Where the Songs Originated (50:12, SD): See how the songs used in the film were arranged and performed in previous movies.
    • ”All I Do is Dream of You” from “Sadie McKee” (1934)
    • ”Beautiful Girl” from “Going Hollywood” (1933)
    • ”The Broadway Melody” from “The Broadway Melody” (1929)
    • ”Broadway Rhythm” from “Broadway Melody of 1936” (1935)
    • ”Good Morning” from “Babes in Arms” (1939)
    • ”I’ve Got a Feelin’ You’re Foolin’” from “Broadway Melody of 1936” (1935)
    • ”Should I?” from “Lord Byron on Broadway” (1929)
    • ”Singin’ in the Rain” from “The Hollywood Revue of 1929”
    • ”Would You?” from “San Francisco” (1936)
    • ”You Are My Lucky Star” from “Broadway Melody of 1936”
    • ”You Were Meant for Me” from “The Broadway Melody”
    • ”Temptation” from “Going Hollywood”
    “You Are My Lucky Star” Outtake (4:06, SD) An alternative ending featuring Reynolds performing.


    Gallery (2:14, SD): Features 18 publicity and production photographs.


    Scoring Stage Sessions: Some of the original pre-recorded musical numbers made for the film, presented in their raw form and Dolby Digital 1.0 audio.
    • You Were Meant for Me, Take 3
    • You Were Meant for Me, Take 5
    • Moses Supposes
    • Fit as a Fiddle
    • All I Do Is Dream of You – Reynolds
    • Singin’ in the Rain
    • You Are My Lucky Star Finale, Take 2
    • You Are My Lucky Star Finale, Take 3
    • Would You? – Duet
    • Singin’ in the Rain – For Unused Main Title
    • Good Morning
    • Beautiful Girl – Original Version with Unused Bridge Montage
    • You Are My Lucky Star – Deleted Debbie Reynolds Version
    • You Are My Lucky Star – Deleted Debbie Reynolds Version without Dialogue
    • Would You? – Debbie Reynolds Vocal
    • Singin’ in the Rain – Debbie Reynolds Version
    • Good Morning – Debbie Reynolds Vocal
    • Make ‘Em Laugh
    • Broadway Ballet, Part One (Two Takes)
    • Broadway Ballet, Part Two (Two Takes)
    • Broadway Ballet, Part Three
    • Broadway Ballet, Part Four
    • Broadway Ballet, Part Five (Two Takes)
    • Broadway Ballet, Part Six
    • All I Do Is Dream of You – Unused Gene Kelly Version
    • Beautiful Girl – Unused Version with Kelly Interlude Demo
    DVD: The feature is presented with 1.37:1 MPEG-2 video and English 5.1 and Portuguese 1.0 Dolby Digital audio. Special features are limited to the multi-participant audio commentary, the “Singin’ in the Rain: Raining on a New Generation” documentary, and the theatrical trailer.


    Packaging and Materials: The Blu-ray and two DVDs are housed in a four-panel DigiPack case. The Digipack case is housed in Warner’s typical commemorative box, measuring 11 x 8 x 2.5 inches. The box also has a screenprinted plastic slipcover with water droplet patterns on the front and release information on the back.
    • Commemorative Hardcover Book: Includes cast/crew biographies, stories about the production, and numerous publicity and production photographs.
    • Theater Display Posters: One-sixth scale reproductions of the 1952 posters – one each for Kelly, Reynolds and O’Connor – measure around 3.5 x 10.5 inches (the originals measured 20 x 60 inches).
    • Full Size Umbrella with Umbrella Charm: Perhaps the most polarizing item in the set, the umbrella measures 11 inches in length when collapsed and has “Singin’ in the Rain 60th Anniversary” printed on both the sleeve and umbrella surface. The charm is attached to the umbrella’s plastic handle.
    Recap


    The Film: 5/5

    Video Quality: 4.5/5

    Audio Quality: 4.5/5

    Special Features: 4.5/5

    Overall Score (not an average): 4.5/5


    Warner Home Video delivers a truly amazing high definition transfer and a fine audio presentation for what many consider the greatest musical to come out of Hollywood. The special features bring over the majority of items from the 50th Anniversary Edition DVD, along with a few new pieces and generally appealing physical materials. However, those limited on shelf space and uninterested in things like a collapsible umbrella will be better off going for the disc-only release. Hats off to Warner for providing consumers with the option.
     
  2. Robin9

    Robin9 Cinematographer

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    Thanks for your review.
    Despite the eccentric and inexcusable decision to exclude a mono sound track, this is a mandatory purchase: a disc I will watch again and again and again.
     
  3. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    How does the 1-disc blu-ray edition compare supplements-wise?
     
  4. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    Thank you for the review. It appears to be everything I hoped it would be. Can't wait to get it next week.
     
  5. Craig S

    Craig S Producer
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    Eh?? As far as I can tell the only alternative to the box is the single-disc Blu-ray version, which omits the DVD with all the supplements from the previous release. I can't find a 2-disc Blu release. Am I missing something??
     
  6. lukejosephchung

    lukejosephchung Screenwriter

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    The 2-disc edition is being released in the UK and won't be available until October, unfortunately...until then, it's either the kitchen sink box set or the single disc edition being released simultaneously this Tuesday...
     
  7. David_B_K

    David_B_K Advanced Member

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    I had the UK 2-disc version on pre-order, but canceled it. I think the 2nd disc is the same as the 2nd disc of the DVD I already have. I can just keep that disc and have the 1-disc Blu now.
     
  8. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    I'd assume that it replicates the movie disc from this set, so you'd get the film, the commentary, the "New Generation" documentary, the "jukebox" and the trailer. That could be wrong, but it'd make sense for the one disc release to simply be this package's Blu-ray Disc...
     
  9. Craig S

    Craig S Producer
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    Ah yes, I forgot about that one. I just went to look into ordering it, but there's a note that only the Blu-ray disc is region-free. The DVD is region 2-only. So ... no go for me. So I guess I'll follow David's lead and pick up the US single-disc Blu and keep my SitR DVD SE for the original supplements. But I'll wait for it to go on sale first - based on previous Warner catalog releases there's a good chance it'll show up at Fry's for under $10 within a few months.

    Really disappointed in Warner's release strategy here. Not even a 2-disc retailer-exclusive like they've done in the past. And don't get me started on the revisionist art...
     
  10. JoHud

    JoHud Producer

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    Crossing my fingers that a 2-disc digibook edition shows up out of nowhere on Tuesday.
    Otherwise I'll just get the single disc and buy the old SE DVD at bargain price.
     
  11. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Sorry about the confusion and thanks for the clarification about the disc-only versions. I've added a notation to the review based on Luke's info.
     
  12. lukejosephchung

    lukejosephchung Screenwriter

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    Always happy to be of service to the membership, Cameron.
     
  13. Craig S

    Craig S Producer
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    Cameron, I think you misinterpreted Luke's post. The 2-disc version is available in the UK on October 1. There is NO planned availability (that I can find) in the US.

    Great review, as always!
     
  14. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    I see. I'll get this right eventually. :)
     
  15. David_B_K

    David_B_K Advanced Member

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    One of the reasons I had my eye on the UK version was the better cover art. I hope someone offers a replacement cover art based on the poster art like the UK version.
    We really are in the dark ages of Blu-ray cover art. I am wonder if we are looking at a situation in which some studio bigwig says something like "OK, you can proceed with the restoration/remastering of that film for Blu-ray, as long as my son/daughter/trophy wife/girlfriend/boyfriend gets to design the cover art".
     
  16. Guest

    Tech glitch. Intended post ahead.
    :P
     
  17. Guest

    TWILIGHT TIME did it right with the new bluray of THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN AND THEIR FLYING MACHINES, using Ronald Searle's orIginal art; the two are inseparable. An earlier DVD had a boring Photoshop design that undermined the whole tone of the presentation.
     
  18. TheVid

    TheVid Stunt Coordinator

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    I got the single-disc blu-ray today and the film looks absolutely terrific. I'll get the box set later, if it shows up on sale. Far worse than the cover art is the horrible 50-minute extra, Raining on a New Generation, to call it a crass promotional croc is being polite, so I'll leave it there, but it's ripe for some nasty comments for those that want to "cynic" to that level.
     
  19. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    I had a similar reaction at first, but Paula Abdul had a legitimate friendship with Kelly, and I don't think you can doubt any of the participants' sincerity about the film and how it's inspired them to do what they do. I may not like everything they've done (e.g. the Usher and Glee tributes were ill advised to say the least), but the point of the documentary is to show how the film has influenced at least a couple generations of dancers and dance choreographers. And I don't think that can be dismissed.
     
  20. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    The Paula Abdul segment ended up very touching. The rest was interesting, but they took to long to cover the subject. What would have been better would have been to take the idea and bring the documentary across many generations and not just the latest. It felt they were trying to give a reason why they redid the classic and released in Blu-ray and that reason is because it is still relevant today. Well the movie has been relevant for many decades and generations. This scares me that that this is the end of classic MGM musicals on Blu-ray.

    But the good news is that the movie does look wonderful.
     

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