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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Singin' in the Rain -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Jul 9, 2012.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Allow me to use as few words as possible, as least to open.

    Singin' in the Rain from Warner Bros, on Blu-ray is nothing less than a miracle.

    Although the publicity materials make note of a new 4k scan from the original three-strip negatives, that isn't case. The original negatives of Singin' in the Rain (less, I believe reel 5B) were lost in the Eastman House nitrate fire c. 1978, along with so many other original elements, that even thinking about it is painful.

    But I'm using the term miraculous, not because of the fire -- the studio had double protection as fine grain masters -- but rather the fact that so much of the film was dupe in its original form.

    I've been told that occasionally I don't see the forest for the trees, or the film for the film grain, but let's look at this logistically.

    Take the first reel, especially the Fit as a Fiddle number. Dissolve after dissolve meant that the original negatives were duped to fine grain masters. The fine grains were then optically duped, and printed to encode the dissolves, and then printed back to three dupe negatives, from which dye transfer printing matrices would be produced.

    If you're with me, you now understand that the original three-strip negative of at least that sequence, if not almost the entire first reel, in addition to other sequences, was dupe. Not just dupe, but third generation. Three generations of black & white film that had to carry with it, along with the intricacies of grain structure and resolution, all of the information dedicated to color, saturation and potentially, problems of black levels, shadow detail, and loss of registration.

    Without the original negatives, the situation becomes even worse.

    Let's copy those third generation dupes to yet another set of fine grains. Which means that the finest surviving image elements for Singin' in the Rain are currently second and fourth generation.

    Back in 2001, Warner Bros made SitR their first Ultra-Resolution project, with now archaic registration tools, and resolution at 1080i.

    Most recently, Warner's Motion Picture Imaging division (MPI) performed a 4k scan of the protection master elements, and the kicker, as you'll find out when you see the new Blu-ray is this.

    The general public -- no let me take that a step further.

    Even the most hardened cinephile -- that works more accurately -- will not be able to tell that for many sequences in the film, they're viewing fourth generation material.

    And that's a technological miracle, combined with more than a bit of digital expertise of the highest order.

    Warner's new Blu-ray of Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen's Singin' in the Rain, is more perfect than one might imagine. For the cinephile and home theater fanatic, this is the stuff that dreams are made of.

    For the 60th Anniversary special edition -- there's always an anniversary edition from WB -- you have a choice of three different versions.

    A new uber-box set, weighing in at around four pounds that comes with a genuine 60th Anniversary (hecho en China) umbrella (with charm -- beware of choking hazard for children), a nice book, and three discs.

    A Blu-ray with the new incarnation of SitR, inclusive of the old (terrific) commentary track from the previous DVD, and an hour long documentary of a number of dancers and choreographers telling us how important the film is, and how difficult many of the dances were. But that's not all.

    In addition, you'll receive the film on new DVD, along with the same new documentary found on the Blu-ray, as well as a DVD of Special Features, which were a part of the last DVD Special Edition.

    With a list price of "only" $85, this very special edition (umbrella w/charm included) can be purchased via Amazon for the amazingly low price of only $76.32.

    Alternatively, there are two other editions available.

    The most obvious, for those who have no need of a commemorative umbrella, is the single Blu-ray disc, which I comes with the original commentary as well as the new documentary. This one is at a seriously great price -- $13.86.

    One can also purchase the new set on standard def DVD with the new transfer, commentary, new documentary, plus the second disc with all of the previous special features. That has a list price of $14.96, but I don't seem many Blu-ray home theater fans going for it.

    So here's the quandary. Unless you have the previous special edition, in which case you can simply purchase the new Blu-ray, you really need to purchase both the Blu-ray as well as the DVD to replicate what's in the big box (with the umbrella).

    One final negative point, which is something that I truly dislike about all WB big box sets. They continue to package, at least what I consider to be the most important part of any set -- the Blu-ray and misc discs -- in a piece of folded cardboard, rather than giving us the discs in a standard blue plastic case. The discs in folded cardboard (yes, it's commemorative 60th Anniversary folded cardboard) are left open to dust, and basically anything that carried in the air. I prefer to keep my discs clean. I also like to place them on a shelf with other Blu-rays. The lack of a simple plastic case for the discs is a continuing annoyance.

    The bottom line is this, and I normally wouldn't give a high rating for anything from a dupe...

    But grain structure, color, densities, black levels, shadow detail all appear perfect. Remember at the beginning of this piece I used the word "miracle." This Blu-ray is a gorgeous, and to many, will be a revelatory experience.

    Image - 5

    Audio - 5

    Extremely Highly Recommended.

    Just not the Super 60th Anniversary uber-boxed set. My recommendation is to purchase the new Blu-ray, and hang on to your 50th Anniversary set.

    RAH
     
  2. lukejosephchung

    lukejosephchung Well-Known Member

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    HALLELUJAH, ROBERT...YOUR FIRST PERFECT SCORE REVIEW...AND A TECHNICAL MIRACLE TO BOOT!!!
     
  3. Doctorossi

    Doctorossi Well-Known Member

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    Wahoo! Can't wait 'til it arrives. :D
     
  4. Cineman

    Cineman Well-Known Member

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    I'm there on day one! Thanks for the review, Mr. Harris. Yes, there WILL be an An American in Paris/Singin' in the Rain Gene Kelly/MGM home theater double bill on tap. Vintage Tom 'n Jerry cartoon in between, of course.
     
  5. DavidJ

    DavidJ Premium
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    Yippee! Thanks RAH.
     
  6. Escapay

    Escapay Well-Known Member

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    Aside from having the film on Blu-Ray, I wanted the UCE mainly for the umbrella (sad, I know). But I may just get the regular Blu-Ray and live without the umbrella.
     
  7. rsmithjr

    rsmithjr Well-Known Member

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    There is also the possibility of some retailer-specific packages including the Blu-ray with the other disks but without the umbrella et al. These seem to be common, with Best Buy, Walmart, and Target being the three most likely places.
    Does anyone have any information about this?
     
  8. Virgoan

    Virgoan Well-Known Member

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    For me (and not speaking for anyone else...or making assertions about anyone else) the "umbrella" offered in the deluxe collector's set has to be one of the most ill-conceived inclusions in home video history. The only thing I can think of that has been worse is the toy plastic "Robby the Robot" in the "Forbidden Planet" collector's tin.
    What a major disappointment THAT was!
    If they wanted to include an umbrella, why not make it a replica of the ones in the opening credits...with the bright yellow color?
     
  9. JoHud

    JoHud Well-Known Member

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    I'm also holding out for a possible exclusive digibook release. They tend to be announced by retailers once the release date is reached, so hopefully it emerges next week.
     
  10. Doctorossi

    Doctorossi Well-Known Member

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    So, you're the guy they made the boxset for! ;)
     
  11. rich_d

    rich_d Well-Known Member

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    So ..,. to be clear, it's not the umbrella per se that bothers you ... it's the color?
     
  12. Guest

    I want to admit that I love the umbrella...I think it is cute! I'm excited about getting the box.
     
  13. Doctorossi

    Doctorossi Well-Known Member

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    With your outdoor set-up, it may actually come in handy for you! :D
     
  14. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    I discovered this film thanks to your review of the then amazing DVD so I see no reason to avoid this one. Look forward to it!
     
  15. Richard Gallagher

    Richard Gallagher Well-Known Member
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    I have no interest in the box, but the stand-alone BD is a no-brainer at that price. Looking forward to it.
     
  16. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Seems like one would be paying something like $50 for a very cheap umbrella.

    But to each their own.

    Stay dry.

    RAH
     
  17. Mark Oates

    Mark Oates Well-Known Member

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    I know I'm always whingeing about the rest of the world missing the party, but we have to sit twiddling our thumbs until October 1st - originally we were getting it the same time.
    Call me weird, but I love Lena Lamont (Jean Hagen). Every line's a scream, and of course that magnificent somersault she executes when RF pulls her microphone lead....
     
  18. Escapay

    Escapay Well-Known Member

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    Yep, Warner was thinking of me when they were deciding what to include in the set. ;)
    Right on! :tu:
    :laugh:
    Whenever I realize that, I simply remind myself, "Hey, you paid $65 for an OOP DVD of Supergirl. That's more embarrassing, no matter how much you love that film!"
     
  19. atcolomb

    atcolomb Well-Known Member

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    I do wonder what else was lost in the Eastman House nitrate fire of 1978? I have read about other film vault fires that have burned some original negatives of other popular movies.
     
  20. John Hermes

    John Hermes Well-Known Member

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    I read that 329 original negatives were lost but they didn't name any titles in the article.
     

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