Singin' in the Rain: Special Edition (1952)

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Released 13-Nov-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Musical Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary
Notes-Reel Sound (with 4 clips)
Active Subtitle Track-Singin' Inspirations
Theatrical Trailer
Awards
Listing-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Musicals Great Musicals
Featurette-What A Glorious Feeling
Featurette-Excerpts From Features Where The Songs Originated (12)
Outtakes-You Are My Lucky Star
Gallery-Photo
Audio-Only Track-Scoring Stage Sessions (26)
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1952
Running Time 98:33
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (49:18)
Dual Disc Set
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'Conner
Debbie Reynolds
Jean Hagen
Millard Mitchell
Cyd Charisse
Case Gatefold
RPI $34.95 Music Arthur Freed
Nacio Herb Brown


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary 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 Yes, Dancing to the title track.

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

Plot Synopsis

     I doubt that I can add any further insight to the litany of reviews already covering this classic, so I will keep my notes here to a minimum. Singin' in the Rain was one of the last in a string of MGM musicals which spanned from the late 1920s to the 1950s, all produced by Arthur Freed. It was the result of a meeting between Freed and the writers Adolph Green and Betty Comden, who were asked to come up with a plot that would enable all of Freed's best-known tracks to be performed throughout. As a result, the film certainly does feel as if it were a vehicle for the music, and not a story enhanced by music like Freed's earlier production The Wizard of Oz, or his later one Gigi. But it's still a lot of fun.

     Singin' In The Rain is really a musical comedy which pokes a lot of fun at the Hollywood film industry during the changeover between silent films and so-called 'talkies'. It is also a love story between a big movie star, Don (Gene Kelly) and a country girl who has come to Hollywood to be a star, Kathy (Debbie Reynolds). While the early part of the film follows a clear plot and is very entertaining, it does run off the rails a little with the "Broadway Melody" scene which, although spectacular, sits a little awkwardly with the rest of the film; a show within a show, which is not quite in the mood of the rest of the piece. But what the hell, this is a musical after all, and the film comes back to earth for the ending.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame, and is consequently not 16x9 enhanced. However, that is the worst thing I can say about the video quality. Considering that was (more or less) the original aspect ratio of the show, it is not much of a criticism.

     What can I say? Hats off to the boys at Warner for this magical picture.

     Let's begin with the simple things: Colours are rich and vibrant, sometimes even crass, to reflect the gloss of those classic Hollywood musicals. During "The Broadway Melody" (73:15), the neons and flashy costumes literally glowed with intensity. Those of you who thought the remastering of Hitchcock's Vertigo or Rear Window were good should really take a look at this -- it is, in a word, spectacular. The only fault I could spot was the slightest of variances in colour where parts of the print had perhaps degraded a little more than others, and the digital compensation was not quite perfect.

     There were almost no MPEG artefacts, except for some very minor aliasing, which was not distracting -- I only saw it because I was looking for it specifically. The only real instance of this was on Gene Kelly's bib at 5:31. There were occasional flecks of dirt on the print, but they were all so small that unless you were really straining to see them, they would go by unnoticed. Otherwise, there were no other film-to-video artefacts that I could see: no low-level noise, no moire effects, no MPEG blocking, no edge-enhancement, nothing. This is amazing considering the number of checks, pinstripe and tweed suits used in the film. Obviously, the studio has gone to considerable lengths to ensure a next-to-perfect print, and any flaws have been screened and digitally masked out.

     Moreover, I totally missed the dual-layer pause the first time through. It is at 49:18, and is very well concealed so as to be almost undetectable. It took me several goes through to actually find it, and when I did I still wasn't sure that was it. The only way I could tell was through the momentary drop of signal to the amplifier.

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

Audio

     There are four soundtracks on this film: an English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound track; an English 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono track; a French 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono track; and an Italian 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono track. The English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound track is the default track.

     All the 1.0 Mono tracks were clear and easy to hear at all times, although I found it best to alternate over to 2.0 Mono using the amplifier for greater clarity.

     The English 5.1 Dolby Digital track, however, was a great disappointment. It is yet another pseudo-5.1 Dolby Digital remix, very reminiscent of Warner's 5.1 Dolby Digital remastering of Kubrick's films.

     The sound was entirely front-driven, nearly all through the centre speaker. It sounded very thin -- even worse than the 5.1 Dolby Digital remastering done for Gone With The Wind. At times, my left and right speakers, which have their independent power sources, actually powered down and switched themselves off for lack of use. There were no stereophonic left-right / right-left audio directional cues in keeping with movement on the screen. The whole thing was a flat monaural, with vague hints of monaural echo coming from the rears and the front left and right.

     On the plus side, there were no apparent audio sync problems, except for some minor issues with the performance of the musical tracks which were all pre-recorded and looped over the film. Dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times.

     The subwoofer was inactive.

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

Extras

     There are a ton of extras here, spread across two discs:

Disc 1

Menu

     The menu for Disc 1 is a static cut of the film with "Singin' In The Rain" playing in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. It is 16x9 enhanced.

Audio Commentary

     There is a feature length audio commentary by stars Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Conner, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, co-director Stanley Donen, screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green, filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, and author/film historian Rudy Behlmer. It's quite an interesting and informative commentary, although Luhrmann's distinctive Australian accent seems out of place when he speaks.

Singin' Inspirations

     This little feature inserts the symbol of a reel during the movie, which when activated leads to clips from other films which provided inspiration for the musical numbers, choreography and cinematography for Singin' In The Rain. The clips are only a couple of minutes long each, but can only be seen by watching the whole movie through again.

Reel Sound

     These are snippets from the earliest 'talkies' of 1925-28, demonstrating the evolution from the silent screen:

Disc 2

Menu

     The menu for Disc 2 is also a static cut of the film with "Singin' In The Rain" playing in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. It is 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette - "Musicals, Great Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit At MGM" (86:09)

     This is a lengthy, although very interesting, documentary about MGM producer Arthur Freed, who produced Singin' In The Rain, as well as other classic MGM musicals, from his specialised unit at the studio lot. It includes interviews with Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, Stanley Donen, Mickey Rooney and Saul Chaplin. Presented in 1.33:1 Full Frame and 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo.

Featurette - "Oh What A Glorious Feeling: The Making Of Singin' In The Rain" (35:35)

     Hosted by Debbie Reynolds, this is a retrospective behind the scenes documentary about the making of the film. It includes interviews with many of the same people as the earlier featurette. Also presented in 1.33:1 Full Frame and 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo.

You Are My Lucky Star Outtake (3:56)

     This is Debbie Reynolds' solo scene which fits in just after "You Were Meant For Me", where Reynolds wanders the backlot of the fictional Monumental Pictures singing. Presented in 1.33:1 Full Frame and 2.0 Dolby Digital Mono. This scene was cut because it slowed the pace of the film.

Excerpts From Features Where Songs Originated

     All the songs used in Singin' In The Rain had been previously used in earlier Arthur Freed movies. This special feature shows clips of the origins of those songs. These are:

    All clips are in 1.33:1 Full Frame and 2.0 Dolby Digital Mono.

Stills Gallery

     These are a series of standard production and advertising shots for the film. There are 18 stills in total.

Scoring Stage Sessions

     There are 25 audio tracks here from the soundstage where the actors pre-recorded the music for the film. All tracks are in 2.0 Dolby Digital Mono and range in length anywhere from 2 minutes to 4 minutes.

R4 vs R1

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

     There are two R1 releases of this DVD; an earlier version with far fewer special features (only a theatrical trailer), and a recent release which is, as far as I can tell, identical to the R4 Special Edition release. Because of the lower cost of the domestic release and the superior quality of PAL video, the R4 release is probably your best bet.

Summary

     Singin' In The Rain is a fun musical on a fine two disc set.

     The picture quality is exceptional given the age of the film.

     The 5.1 Dolby Digital remastering is a bit of a let down, but the 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono track is fine although best listened to by spreading it across a 2.0 Dolby Digital Mono field if you have the means.

     There is a fair bit of overlap between the extras, but there are indeed a whole host of them and one cannot help but feel that Warner have gone to considerable lengths to flesh out a classic.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Sunday, November 24, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

Other Reviews
AllZone4DVD - Magalie S
DVD Net - Anthony Clarke
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Roger L

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