Singin’ Swingin’ Glorious Feelin’ Technicolor Musical!
Surely all know that the seminal 1952 classic Singin’ in the Rain celebrates its 60th Anniversary this year. To celebrate, Warner Brothers has released yet another of their Ultimate Collector’s Editions. Now as readers may be aware, we are not exactly what you would call huge fans of the musical. We have nothing against them mind you, just not really our cup of tea.
We won’t go into a detailed review of the film itself here, but know that there are scenes here which simply would not be done today without the aid of massive amounts of edition and special effects, or at least computerized enhancement. Rather we will focus on this wonderful release.
That being said, if there is one musical to get it would need to be Singin’ in the Rain, with of course Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, and Gene Kelly. The UCE follows the same general packaging which we’ve all become accustomed to with previous releases in the series such as Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, and Ben-Hur.
First, the film. It looks glorious, and the new restored transfer is a noted step above previous releases of the film. That being said, it wasn’t as sharp as other previous UCE subjects, particularly Casablanca. There looks to be slight edge enhancement and a few other very minor defects in the picture, but most viewers won’t even notice them. Colors are nice and bright and blacks suitably dark and both are consistent as needed.
Even stronger is the new 5.1 surround audio mix, which is a strong upgrade over what was still good audio in previous editions. You’ll be wowed. Period.
Finally, we come to the extras and the swag which Warner Brothers has as usual, thrown in here for real aficionados. All of the previously released supplemental materials from earlier editions are here, with perhaps the best being the running commentary from Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, Stanley Donen,Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Baz Luhrmann, and Rudy Behlmer. Even Rudy isn’t too bad here.
There is a new documentary, Singin’ in the Rain: Raining on a New Generation, but for my money you can skip it. It focuses on how the youth of today, namely from the TV show Glee, feel about the film.
In terms of swag, Warners may have outdone themselves this time. There is the standard (for a UCE) hard cover book. These are always nice but teasingly short, with this one being no exception. Also we have a few poster reproduction cards, again another staple of the UCE.
What is really nifty about the swag for this release is the “unique” item they’ve included. As fans of the UCE releases will know, each release comes with a rather unique goody, related directly to the film at hand. For Singin’ in the Rain we get an umbrella! Holy smokes, an umbrella! As much as I am not a huge fan of the film itself, this is a very cool and creative item.
So if you are a fan of the film, or even musicals in general, this is most likely a must have for your collection. Yes, the video transfer is slightly soft (though this could partly be due to the intentionally softer way in which it was originally shot), but overall the entire feature is a strong upgrade over previous releases.
Although the single new special feature is rather on the average, the inclusion of ALL of the previously released and very good supplemental materials gives you probably more than you’d ever want to know about the picture.
Then there is the umbrella.