You don’t have to be a musical or dancing aficionado to fully appreciate Stanley Donen’s 1952 classic “Singin’ in the Rain”, but it sure doesn’t hurt. The timeless classic starring the winning triumvirate of Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds (with Kelly not only providing choreography, but also co-directing) has just gotten a major facelift in time for its 60th anniversary. “Singin’ in the Rain: 60th Anniversary Collector’s Edition” is now available in stores everywhere courtesy of Warner Home Video.
America’s beloved musical gem, starring Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor, celebrates its 60th Anniversary on Blu-ray for the very first time with an all new 3-Disc Blu-ray & DVD Ultimate Collector’s Edition. The sensational limited and numbered 3-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition will feature the film both on Blu-ray and DVD, and includes an all new hi-definition documentary, and special collectible memorabilia.
If you’re not a fan of “Singin’ In The Rain”, I don’t know what to tell ya. You just don’t appreciate good movies, I guess. There’s nothing to not like about “Singin’ In The Rain”, unless the very idea of people singing and dancing and doing it incredibly well onscreen somehow offends your sensibilities. In which case, I feel for your sanity.
Considered one of the very best musicals ever made, “Singin’ In The Rain” is one of those movies that wasn’t really appreciated in its time. Maybe it was just a bit too ahead of its time, which is ironic considering the film’s plot, about the emergence of “talkies” during 1920s Hollywood once dominated by silent films. Gene Kelly is Don, a silent film star who has one of those meet-cute moments with aspiring actress and current showgirl Kathy (Reynolds). When the head of Don’s movie studio decides it’s time to get into the talkies business, Kathy is conscripted to dub over the hilariously awful-sounding Lina (Jean Hagen). Donald O’Connor eventually enters the fray as Cosmo, Don’s best friend, who conspires with Don to make Kathy a star despite the whole world thinking that Kathy’s talents are Lina’s.
The real treat of “Singin’ in the Rain” is, of course, its singing and dancing segments, including the now legendary Gene Kelly (literally) singing and dancing in the rain sequence. (Legend had it he did it in one take, but that’s since been disproven, though if you’ll excuse me, I’ll keep thinking otherwise anyway.) Hard to believe, but Reynolds was not a professional dancer at the time of filming, though you wouldn’t know it by the way she kept up with her more accomplished dancing co-stars Kelly and O’Connor, the latter winning a Golden Globe for his performance, which was no doubt heavily assisted by the crowdpleasing “Make ‘em Laugh” number. In fact, the film was so mildly regarded during its 1952 release that neither Kelly or Reynolds were recognized for their stellar performances. (Hagen was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, and the film itself earned a nod for Best Original Music Score.) Go figure, right? Hollywood got it wrong back then, too, apparently.
I’ll give them this: Warner Bros. sure didn’t skimp on the extras. The 60th Anniversary Collector’s Edition of “Singin’ in the Rain” comes in an impressive, sturdy white box that would undoubtedly make a great gift for the musical fan in your life. Besides the film in DVD and Blu-ray (which offers up a pretty excellent Blu-ray transfer, with stunning visuals and sound), extras include those ported over from previous releases along with new bonuses included just for the 60th Anniversary Collector’s Edition. This includes “Singin’ in the Rain: Raining on a New Generation”, a 50-minute documentary presented in HD featuring famous dancing talking heads reminiscing about the movie, as well as contemporary analysis of the film’s elaborate dance sequences. There’s also a Jukebox feature that allows you to play just the film’s musical numbers, which is nice, but they’re better watched in context of the movie.
You also get a 48-page hard cover book with production notes and behind-the-scenes photos, including actor biographies. For you completists out there, there are some reproductions of the original theatrical posters and get this, a full-size commemorative umbrella for those of you who’d like to run outside right this minute and start singin’ in the rain. I decided not to take up this option myself, but then again, I can’t sing a lick, and my neighbor is armed. Here’s a good look at the packaging and its contents:
There are enough bonus content in this thing that it might take me a week to go through them all. So I’ll just run down the biggies: there’s a full-length audio commentary track moderated by star Debbie Reynolds, that includes audio clips featuring actors Donald O’Connor, Cyd Charisse, and Kathleen Freeman, along with screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green (the two were Writers Guild of America Awards winners for “Singin'”), director Baz Luhrmann (of “Moulin Rouge” and the upcoming “Great Gatsby” fame, who knows a thing or two about onscreen musicals), and finally, film historian Rudy Behlmer, who provides historical context to the film. It’s somewhat hard to keep track of everyone, but that’s probably because it requires more attention than I usually like to give a commentary track. Usually I watch/listen to these things while working on the computer, given that I’ve already seen the movie at least once already.
There’s also a PBS documentary, along with a “The Making of Singin’ in the Rain” doc which is, yes, about the making of the film. An unused musical outtake starring Debbie Reynolds, stills gallery, and theatrical trailer round out some of the more notable bonus content.
“Singin’ in the Rain” is a real cinematic treat, one of those movies you might have heard about but never really taken the time to sit down and watch. Don’t make that mistake. If you’ve never seen it, or find the idea of watching a 1952 movie about people dancing and singing in, well, the rain to be a tad silly, I would encourage you to give it a shot anyway. The film is incredibly infectious, and you’ll feel better for having watched an American classic.