Singin' in the Rain (1952)

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Released 4-Sep-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Musical None
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1952
Running Time 98:37
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By ene Kelly
Stanley Donen
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring ene Kelly
Donald O'Connor
Debbie Reynolds
Jean Hagen
Millard Mitchell
Cyd Charisse
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Nacio Herb Brown


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
German
Romanian
Bulgarian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Many critics say that Singin' In The Rain is the greatest musical of all time. While I don't agree with that statement, the title song is probably the ultimate humming tune -- possessing a melody and chorus that our complex Homo sapiens brains delight in time after time. To finally see the film that spawned this literally perfect song was marvellous. My Clockwork Orange association has now made room for Gene Kelly's more genial performance, although Little Alex's rendition will endure for a long time to come. (The song was only chosen for A Clockwork Orange because it was the only one actor Malcolm McDowell knew how to sing at the time. Kubrick thought it suited the infamous home invasion scene brilliantly.)

    Singin' In The Rain is set around the time when silent movies became 'talkies', circa 1927. Stuntman cum movie idol Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and his dim co-star Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are enlisted to star in Monumental Pictures' first talkie called The Dancing Cavallier, which is being thrown together in response to a rival studio's talkie success, but Lina's preening, Brooklyn-accented voice and  low-voltage intellect creates difficulties for the production. Don's long time pal Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor, a 1950s version of Jim Carrey) suggests using the velvet voice of Don's elusive love interest Kathy Selden (a teenaged Debbie Reynolds) to replace Lina's intolerable wailings. Along the way, a number of all-smiling, all-dancing songs are delivered during the course of the story.

    While I prefer violent future noir cinema laced with sexual perversity and nihilistic themes, the grass-roots film lover in me could not resist the charms of this Stanley Donen musical classic. The humour, characters, and soundtrack all work in concert to create an enjoyable celebration of 1950s post-war idealism: a time when you would go tap dancing in the street to the beat of your optimism, despite the melancholy fall-out from your past.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Presented Full Frame, the three-strip Technicolor stock shows up beautifully on this DVD. Shot on 35mm with spherical lenses and supposedly composed for 1.37:1, the framing of this 1.33:1 transfer looks fine.

    Sharpness is good given the state of the source material. While MGM have not performed a full restoration, the image is an improvement over the laserdisc release (of course), and hence Singin' In The Rain has never looked better. Many surface textures and background details are apparent, with no sign of edge enhancement. Blacks are generally good, with some darker scenes suffering mild chalkiness.

    The best aspect of this transfer is the colour saturation. Since this was the first DVD I'd watched on the Metz DVD player (a rebadged Pioneer) with a better SCART-SCART lead, I had to adjust for lower colour saturation compared to the Marantz, but I am sure that Singin' In The Rain looked the way cinematographer Harold Rosson intended. There was no colour bleed nor low level noise.

    Film artefacts included occasional specks and an ever-present mesh of film grain, which is easy to overlook if one's attention is fixed upon the story. I also noticed no compression artefacts.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The American DVD contains a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, instead of our 1.0 mono track. I have not heard the multi-channel mix, but the consensus appears to be that it is a mediocre effort that makes little use of the surround channels. One reviewer even wished that the original mono sound was made available as an option.

    Dialogue was loud and clear. At high volumes it grated on the ears, so be prepared for that if you pump the volume up for the musical numbers. Synchronization was not a problem.

    The songs themselves, which were written before the script, are bold and engaging. High notes and brass accompaniments came across without distortion, although again, the overall sound became fatiguing at high volumes. Cinema EQ or rounding-off options on your DVD player will make it sound smoother. I tend to leave things 'au naturale' unless the problems are too severe to stomach. The bottom end frequencies were almost non-existent.

    This is a primitive sound mix...although for the age of the film it remains faithful to the original presentation.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menus

    Full frame, not animated, no background music.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.


    The Region 4 DVD misses out on a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Based on the opinion of Region 1 commentators, this is no loss.

Summary

    Singin' In The Rain is one of the most beloved Hollywood musicals, scoring an 8.5 out of 10 in the Internet Movie Database ranking. Of course, some violent droogs running around causing mayhem would have improved the movie, but that says more about me than anything. If you have never seen the movie, this is the perfect chance to do so.

    MGM's DVD is as definitive as it can be without fully restoring the negative. The remastered image quality is colourful and framed correctly, and the mono sound at least duplicates the original listening experience. Some supplements would have been nice, but in my opinion, the best extra is always a properly presented movie, especially one of this vintage.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rod Williams (Suss out my biography if you dare)
Monday, December 04, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDMetz DE 71, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Ergo (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder.
AmplificationArcam AV50 5 x 50W amplifier
SpeakersFront: ALR/Jordan Entry 5M, Centre: ALR/Jordan 4M, Rear: ALR/Jordan Entry 2M, Subwoofer: B&W ASW-1000 (active)

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