I don’t believe I’ve ever met anybody claiming to completely dislike Singin’ in the Rain, and suspect that many who do probably haven’t actually sat down to watch the film in its entirety (kinda like when my folks once declared their utter hatred of Iron Maiden based on hearing one song). We’re all familiar with Gene Kelly’s iconic performance of the title tune, but really, the whole film can't be defined that one scene. I would argue that it isn’t even the best moment.
70 years on, Singin’ in the Rain is the quintessential musical and has lost none of its magic. Like such classics as Star Wars, it’s one of those films that transcends its genre to even appeal to those who don’t normally go in for this sort of thing. Such as yours truly. This remains the only musical ever made that I’ve been happy to revisit multiple times.
It had been awhile since I’d last seen it - at least a decade - and rather than summarize a plot most are familiar with, I thought I’d share a few takeaways that came to my attention this time around…
- First off, it’s too bad widescreen films weren’t being made in 1952. Considering the lavish dance numbers and production design, Singin’ in the Rain would have been even more visually spectacular than it already is. Still, the film looks magnificent in 4K, especially the striking colors and set design of the “Broadway Melody” sequence. Speaking of which…
- With all reverence to Kelly’s still-infectious rain dance, the lengthy “Broadway Melody” section is the highlight of the film. What’s ultimately ironic is that it’s arguably the one musical number that really has nothing to do with the plot. However, it’s a stunner, telling a mini story in its own right.
- This was also the first time I noticed how often these dance numbers are shot in long takes. Considering some of the fast-paced, jaw-dropping choreography, these scenes had to be a logistical nightmare. That Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor make it look effortless is amazing.
|This scene originally included a Smash 'n' Grab.
- On the subject of O’Connor…as Cosmo, he might be my new favorite character in the film. He’s easily the funniest, and not just his classic “Make ‘Em Laugh” number. Whether delivering some of the script's best throwaway lines (“At least I can stop suffering and write that symphony”) or handing R.F. one of his own congratulatory cigars, O’Connor is hilarious without calling a lot of attention to himself. But as self-absorbed, bubble headed Lina Lamont, Jean Hagan might be the most underappreciated member of the cast. Having just recently seen her sympathetic turn in The Asphalt Jungle, I was reminded of her largely unsung versatility.
- Cyd Charisse - Kelly’s dance partner in “Broadway Melody” - is a strong candidate for the most beautiful woman who ever lived.
- Finally, in addition to being both a musical and satire of the film business, Singin’ in the Rain could arguably be considered a meta movie. Again, this is especially prevalent during the “Broadway Melody” sequence. Even the characters themselves acknowledge the sequence has nothing to do with The Dancing Cavalier, the film-within-the-film they are trying to save by turning it into a musical.
One thing, however, has always been obvious. If joy could be defined by a single film, you’d be hard-pressed to name a better example than Singin’ in the Rain. Every scene is an exercise in charm, exuberance, style and technical virtuosity, something even musical curmudgeons must grudgingly concede. Now in 4K, the film has never looked or sounded better, and its technical specs are the main reason for doing an upgrade, since the bonus features are all carried over from the 2012 Blu-ray (also included in this set).
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN: RAINING ON A NEW GENERATION - 50-minute appreciation featuring comments & anecdotes by various contemporary directors, choreographers, dancers and actors.
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, Stanley Donnen, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Baz Luhrmann & Rudy Behlmer. Recorded separately, of course.
“JUKEBOX” OPTION - Allows viewers to jump to any of the 14 songs in the film.
4K, BLU-RAY & DIGITAL COPIES