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HTF REVIEW: "Singin' In The Rain" Special Edition (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Sep 9, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]

    Singin' In The Rain
    Special Edition




    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 1952
    Rated: G
    Film Length: 103 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Standard (1.33:1)
    Subtitles: English, French, Spanish



    "....I'm ha-a-a-a-py again!"
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Singin' In The Rain is considered to be
    the greatest Hollywood musical ever made -- and
    why not? -- nothing has ever come close to this
    film in combining the perfect mixture of dancing
    and humor as Hollywood takes a good look at itself.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    The setting is the end of the 1920s when films
    were just making the transition to sound, a time
    of uncertainty for many established silent movie
    stars. At the gala premiere of a 1927 silent film,
    adoring fans clamor for a glimpse of The Royal
    Rascal's illustrious stars: Don Lockwood (Gene
    Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen). On-screen
    they are the screen's most adoring couple, but
    off-screen the romance quickly flutters.
    One evening during a party hosted by Monumental
    Pictures the guests are treated to a most curious
    novelty--a talking picture demonstration. Though
    most of the guests scoff at its potential success,
    the talking format soon becomes the rage of Hollywood
    and thus killing off the silent screen stars who
    suddenly must find a voice in pictures.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Monumental Pictures soon moves to make its first
    talkie, The Dueling Cavalier. When a test
    screening reveals Lina's high-pitched squeaky voice
    is making audiences everywhere cringe and laugh,
    the studio goes into a panic. In an attempt to save
    the project, Don's true off-screen love interest,
    Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), secretly dubs over
    Lina's squeal, while his best friend and musical
    genius Cosmo Brown (Donald O' Connor) lends a
    hand by renovating the script into The Dancing
    Cavalier
    .
    The most magical thing about Singin' In The
    Rain is that the film could have survived
    on its own merits if it were solely a comedy or
    a musical. Fortunately, the writing talents of
    Adolph Green and Betty Comden were so greatly
    complimented by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donens'
    direction that the film was destined for greatness.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Some of the most extraordinary musical sequences
    ever filmed all appear here.....from Make 'Em
    Laugh
    to Moses Supposes to Broadway
    Rhythm
    to.....oh, yes....Singin' In The
    Rain
    . Remarkable music combined with awe-
    inspiring dance numbers makes this a film that
    will forever stand the test of time.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Singin' In The Rain arrives in a brand
    new two-disc special edition. A cardboard
    slipcover contains a pull-out that opens to a
    3-pane gatefold. Two DVDs (labeled ONE and TWO)
    sit in plastic hub housing that sit above a 2-pane
    photo of the lights from Broadway Rhythm. On
    the far left pane resides the complete Scene Index
    of the film. A back pane panel lists the Scene
    Index from the documentaries that resides on
    Disc TWO as well as a list of original movie
    excerpts of Arthur Freed/Nacio Herb Brown songs.
    How is the transfer
    Aaaaaahh, Technicolor! Glorious Technicolor!
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Get ready to be blown away! This is the most
    jaw-dropping transfer of Singin' In The Rain
    seen on any format to date....beating out MGM's
    original transfer. In fact, going back to MGM's
    transfer (which they greatly heralded) you can
    clearly see colors that are pale and blurred. I
    even noticed scratches and blemishes in the print
    that I never noticed the first time around. This
    is what happens after you see a transfer that is
    so noticeably superior...and Warner is the winner!
    First let me warn you that the film is presented
    in a full-frame ratio of 1.33:1. No anamorphic
    enhancement here. But there shouldn't be! This
    is the film's original theatrical ratio. With
    that in mind, let me talk about the absolutely
    gorgeous technicolor transfer that takes vivid
    reds, luscious yellows and a kaleidoscope of
    colors to levels never seen before. If you ever
    want to know just how good technicolor can
    be, just spin up chapter 14 (Beautiful Girl) and
    chapter 29 (Broadway Rhythm) to watch color as
    you have never seen it. Something else to look
    for -- and this cannot be seen on the MGM release --
    Donald O'Connor's aqua eyes that seem to just
    lightly sparkle in every frame he appears in.
    Folks, this is as good as it gets!
    Now, let's talk about the all-new 5.1 digital
    mix. You know, taking a movie filmed in the
    1950s when Dolby Stereo wasn't even heard of,
    and remixing it to today's high 5.1 standards,
    is going to have its limitations. The problem
    with this 5.1 mix is that it really dumbs down
    the sound. In this mix, the center channel
    levels rise well above all the other channels.
    While dialogue certainly remains focused to the
    center channel, so does most of the music. The
    center channel robs the two front channels of
    most of the musical thrust. The center isn't
    meant to carry sound in this manner. The rear
    channels don't add much ambience to the film,
    adding more echo effects than anything else. In
    fact, the rear and LFE levels are so low, that
    you only faintly hear any response from either.
    Special Features
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Disc One contains the entire feature. If
    you have already seen this film, perhaps you should
    immediately go to this area for an interesting added
    feature...
    Singin' Inspirations is an option you can
    turn on, that will play the movie with additional
    hidden footage. With this option enabled, a small
    film reel icon will appear on your screen during
    the film's playback. Click on that icon with your
    remote to learn a little more about Singin' In
    The Rain and the films that inspired it.
    Now let's talk about the full-length commentary
    that features the likes of Stanley Donen, Debbie
    Reynolds, Donald O'Conner, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen
    Freeman, screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph
    Green, film historian Rudy Behlmer, and even
    Baz Luhrmann, the director of Moulin Rouge.
    It would have been great if all these individuals
    were able to be in the recording studio at once
    to record this commentary for the film's 50th
    Anniversary. Unfortunately, these are all separate
    recordings thrown together as one. The only real
    person in the studio is Debbie Reynolds, who acts
    as host, introducing the various interviews. We
    have Betty Comden and Adolph Green who talk about
    how they decided the best way to use the songs
    was to write a movie about the transitional period
    from silent to sound. Baz Luhrmann talks about
    the great physical device that the movie begins
    with -- the fact that Gene Kelly tells a story that
    may not be entirely truthful. Later, Baz so
    passionately talks about the heightened world we
    are taken to in You Were Meant For Me.
    Donald O'Conner talks warmly about actress Jean
    Hagen who played Lina,the ditzy blonde. This was
    her first approach at comedy, and her being a
    serious actress brought a very special bonus to
    the role. Historian Rudy Behlmer (who contributes
    most to this commentary) talks about actor Oscar
    Levant, who was originally chosen to play the part
    of Cosmo Brown. There were scenes specifically
    written for the actor and Arthur Freed had pushed
    for him to get the part. Not quite sure how the
    decision was made to select O'Conner instead. The
    wonderful Kathleen Freeman talks not only about
    the power of the film and what it meant to her,
    but also what a grand time she had on the MGM lot --
    going to lunch and seeing actors like Clarke
    Gabel and Fred Astaire.
    Although all of these recordings were made at
    separate times, a very admirable job has been
    done to place the comments at the very point of
    the film that they pertain to. For this reason,
    the commentary holds up quite well as accompaniment
    to the film.
    Reel Sound consists of a few text pages
    that give insight into some of the major Warner
    and MGM films that made the transition from silent
    era to sound.
    In addition to the original theatrical trailer,
    There's a page dedicated to all the Awards this
    film has received between the years 1952-2002.
    Would you believe this was never an Academy Award
    winner for Best Picture?!
    Finally, a measly Cast and Crew area is
    included that doesn't let you access any of its
    stars or filmmakers. You can look - but you can't
    touch! Sort of sad since some of Hollywood's
    greatest are featured here.
    [​IMG]
    Disc Two has a wealth of extra material
    here. Let's take a look....
    [​IMG]
    Musicals Great Musicals is a 96 minute
    documentary that looks at the career of producer/
    songwriter Arthur Freed. He was the man that
    changed the look of musicals from ordinary to
    extraordinary. Some of his talents include
    On the Town, An American In Paris, The Harvey
    Girls, Showboat
    and The Wizard of Oz..
    Speaking of Oz, it was Arthur Freed who insisted
    that Judy Garland be selected to play the lead
    part. He also saved Over The Rainbow from
    being removed. Arthur Freed's music became the
    pop music of the time. We are treated to many
    clips from all of these wonderful films as well
    as clips of Mr. Freed, himself. Various
    historians, composers, lyricists, screenwriters
    and actors (including Mickey Rooney) all join in
    to celebrate this legend.
    [​IMG]
    What a Glorious Feeling is a new documentary
    that takes a look at the making and impact of
    this landmark musical. It begins with Debbie
    Reynolds, our host, who talks about the
    unexpected success of the film. Early footage
    shows the MGM lot and various musicals that the
    studio was releasing at the time talkies came to
    be. We learn about lyricist Arthur Freed and his
    influence on the future of the studio. It's
    interesting to be brought through the development
    of this film, learning about all the original
    ideas that were meant to be included in the
    musical - but weren't. For instance, the song
    Singin' In The Rain was never originally
    meant to be for Gene Kelly, but actually a song
    for trio Don, Cathy and Cosmo. How much did O'Connor
    and Kelly enjoy working with each other? Well,
    you only need to look at their dance numbers that
    show how much respect there was for each other's
    talent. Kelly played off of O'Conner (and vise-versa).
    There are lots of rare photos from the set, as
    well as pictures of the script and various
    internal MGM memos related to the picture production.
    There's also a wonderful story that Donald
    O'Conner tells about how the song Make 'Em Laugh
    would come to be. There's also a wonderful (and
    perhaps final) interview with the memorable
    Kathleen Freeman about her memories of the film
    and cast. An absolutely no-holds-barred look
    at the greatest musical ever made from the people
    that made it!
    (length: approx. 30 minutes)
    [​IMG]
    So where did all the great songs from this film
    originate from? Excerpts from features where
    the songs originated takes us through a dozen
    movie clips from the 20s and 30s that featured
    original versions of songs like Beautiful Girl
    and Good Morning. Know what blew me away?
    Take a look at the clip of Singin' In The
    Rain
    as originally seen in The Hollywood
    Review of 1929
    . We are introduced to Cliff
    Edwards who sings the original song. And who did
    this man go on to become? The voice of Jiminy
    Cricket in Disney's Pinnochio. Now that
    is cool!
    Imagine this...there's an outtake from
    the movie. It's a musical number called You
    Are My Lucky Star
    that features Kathy singing
    the song to a billboard picture of Don Lockwood.
    [​IMG]
    A gallery presents approximately 17 stills
    of rare photos of the cast on the set, in
    wardrobe, and goofing around for publicity sake.
    This was an incredible surprise! Here, on
    this DVD are scoring sessions from the
    film. These are the original recordings done
    in advance of filming on MGM's scoring stage.
    These are mainly multiple takes of material
    either dropped or revised in the film. Over
    two dozen of these outtakes are available for
    you to listen to, complete with lots of throat
    clearing. This is sort of like listening to the
    bootleg Beatles material for the first time.
    Final Thoughts
    [​IMG]
    Take your favorite musical and make a wish!
    This Special Edition from Warner Brothers proves
    that dreams do come true. We finally have a DVD
    that truly captures the glory of this musical in
    both transfer and supplements. It's great to see
    that this film finally received the treatment it
    was due, and it is my hope that it will serve to
    introduce new generations to this timeless classic.
    Highly Recommended!
    Release Date: September 24, 2002
     
  2. Allan Mack

    Allan Mack Well-Known Member

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    This should make a good demo disc for my 4:3 TV (as well as being a great movie). Thanks for the review, Ron...
     
  3. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Well-Known Member

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    I think that MGM/WB did not have the luxury of having "Stems" or "Angles" material for all the film's musical numbers. Although the practice was to record the singers on one tape and the various orchestra sections on their own separate tapes, most likely those elements were lost or destroyed. This practice was not to make a final stereo audio mix but to balance the music for the final mono mix. The home video/DVD nomenclature of "5.1 stereo" can often be untrue. Taking mostly mono elements and making them "Chace Stereo" is simply not the same as real stereo. Dolby has nothing to do with whether a soundtrack is in stereo or not. It's just a method of reproduction to reduce tape background noise, nothing else. It can be mono as well. Some reconstructed "stereo" from surviving "Stem" elements have been used since the LaserDisc days on MGM musicals and they sound great. Much of the extra scoring material and alternate takes have already been available on a Rhino CD for awhile and the Debbie Reynolds outtake was previously released on Laser. Except for the new documentary all the other material was previously released on various LaserDiscs. But all in all, it sounds like a great release and the sharpness and color look outstanding.
     
  4. Kurt N

    Kurt N Well-Known Member

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    Jeepers, Wally. Those screenshots look AMAZING. I think this just went from "get it within a couple weeks" to "be at Best Buy when they open the door."

    Thanks for another swell review.
     
  5. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Well-Known Member

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    When I see an old film made to look this good, it almost makes me cry. THANK YOU WB!
     
  6. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Well-Known Member

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    Now the question I have is whether this film has been preserved to film or just low resolution video. What will the Technicolor 35mm prints be mastered from that are due at the end of the year for a limited run?
    P.S. Is "Make 'Em Laugh" a steal from Cole Porter's earlier song "Be A Clown"? [​IMG]
     
  7. Jeff Bamberger

    Jeff Bamberger Well-Known Member

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    I have to tell ya, Ron's reviews of this, Amadeus, and Cuckoo's nest clearly make me notch Warner Brothers up, even to the point where I can almost forgive them for snapper cases.

    I have been waiting on the SE of Cuckoo since I got my DVD player way back when. And I have been toying with getting Amadeus. But SitRain was not even on my radar screen. The screenshots look so amazing. And the supplemental materials sound grand. Thanks Ron for a great review and making me want to spend more money......
     
  8. BrettB

    BrettB Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Ron, this is the one I was most interested in right behind Unforgiven. Is there not going to be a review of Unforgiven? [​IMG]
     
  9. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Brett,
    I have literally 2 dozen DVD titles sitting
    here to be reviewed, all representing different
    studios.
    I usually pick only a few of what each studio
    sends me because I am only one guy here, as opposed
    to other websites that employ multiple reviewers.
    Actually, I went out of my way to do 4 of the 5
    Warner releases because I thought, well, they were
    that special. Unfortunately Unforgiven was
    the one I had to leave out.
    I don't like to promote other websites, but
    DVDFILE.COM has posted a review of UNFORGIVEN
    today and since its written by Peter Bracke, I
    trust that it will be a very honest and informative
    review. He is one of my favorite on-line reviewers
    and I wish I could write as well as he does.
     
  10. Jens Raethel

    Jens Raethel Well-Known Member

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    This is defenetly a must buy DVD!
    Thanks Ron!![​IMG]
     
  11. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Well-Known Member

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    Thanks again Ron for a great review
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Well-Known Member

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    One comment on Ron's excellent reivew. Under the name "Studio" he puts WB. In all fairness, this marvelous film was made by MGM. WB is currently the owner of the film and distributor not the originator. In the 50s WB would never make a film like this.
     
  13. Kajs

    Kajs Well-Known Member

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    I cannot wait!
     
  14. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Ron! [​IMG] Clearly a must buy.
     
  15. Rain

    Rain Well-Known Member

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    So is the 5.1 track the only audio track on the disc?
    Also, Ron, do you have the old DVD for comparison? I would be interested to hear your comments regarding the framing.
    This link to comparison screenshots was posted in another thread. Based on these, it looks like the framing is cropped particularly on the right side and the bottom.
     
  16. josh4040

    josh4040 Well-Known Member

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    need volunteers to help with the overflow ron? [​IMG]
     
  17. BrettB

    BrettB Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the explanation Ron, and thanks for the DVDFile heads-up. Actually, seeing as how you had done 4 of the 5 I was thinking there might have been some sort of snafu and you didn't receive Unforgiven at the same time or something. Please know that I wasn't doggin' ya. All your efforts are very much appreciated. [​IMG]
     
  18. michael deakin

    michael deakin Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Ron.
    This is one of my wife's favorite films. Can't wait to show her this puppy.
    mike[​IMG]
     
  19. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Well-Known Member

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    According to DVDFile there is an original mono track on the disc.
     
  20. Rain

    Rain Well-Known Member

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