The American Society of Cinematographers

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Killing Them Softly
Presidents Desk
DVD Playback
Les Vampires
Singin' in the Rain
ASC Close-Up
Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Blu-ray Edition

1.37:1  (High Definition 1080p)

DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Warner Home Video,  $19.98

Fleeing from the grand 1927 premiere of his latest romantic screen epic, dashing silent-screen star Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) is nearly torn to bits by the screaming fans awaiting him, so he ditches his leading lady, Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen), and best friend, Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor) and swings into oncoming traffic. Dangling from a traveling bus, the nimble star "swashbuckles" himself into the car of traveling passerby Cathy Seldon (Debbie Reynolds), who is shocked until she recognizes the matinee idol. As Don is charmed by fetching Cathy, she makes no bones about being unimpressed by the screen actor's self importance. Cathy explains that she is a "real" actress, one of the stage, not the “shadows.” Miffed when Cathy drops him off at his home, the grumbling star changes out of his “fan-mauled” tux and travels into the hills to catch up with Cosmo at the studio's premier after party.

At the party, Don finds Cosmo, his stunning but shrewish screen co-star Lina and, surprisingly, the "real" actress Cathy, who bursts from the studio's massive cake as the leader of the evening's dance troupe. Reveling in the situation's irony, bemused Don confronts embarrassed Cathy, and the two flirt and argue under the nose of jealous star Lina, who ends up with a pie in her face. Threats and insinuations fly. Boy gets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back through clever plot devices, upbeat songs and incredible dancing and in spite of jealous Lina, who will stop at nothing to destroy Don and Cathy's happiness.

Prolific songwriter Arthur Freed, originally hired to write songs for its musical department, eventually became head of production of musicals at MGM. The Freed Unit produced all of  the studio's genre-defining musicals of the 1940s and 1950s. Freed brought big Broadway talent to Hollywood, including show-writing partners Betty Comden and Adolph Green, whom he approached in 1952 to the write the screenplay for Singin' in the Rain, a project based on his own hit song and using several others from his personal songbook. Comden & Green fleshed out a comic musical featuring Hollywood at the boiling point, when "talking pictures" ushered in the 1930s.

Singin' in the Rain attracted Kelly, who agreed to star, choreograph and co-direct the picture with Stanley Donen. Veteran director of photography Harold Rosson, ASC, was selected to provide a lush  Technicolor palette for the musical. Considered one of the true masters of Technicolor, particularly after his work on The Wizard of Oz, Rosson understood what Kelly and Donen where after, a fond look back on that period in Hollywood’s history with the glamour and zeal Technicolor could convey while keeping black and shadow levels pronounced, making the comic musical “feel” more modern.  

Singin' in the Rain, considered by many to be the quintessential Hollywood musical, has at last come to Blu-ray for its 60th anniversary — with excellent results. Even though the film has had a prestigious history on home screens and with color-drenched laserdiscs and DVDs, not surprisingly, Warner 's new, high-definition image transfer is a bold and luminous presentation. Although there are occasions of noticeable DNR, nothing interferes with the overall excellence and abundance of contrast balance and strikingly saturated primaries. The crisp, vivid splendor of the film's glowing use of Technicolor gets more impressive as each scene rolls by. The audio presentation in 5.1 is vibrant, with most of the originally monaural track coming through cleanly from the center and the surround channels discreetly kicking in only to fill out the instrumentation of the music. It is an excellent track that never feels too showy or inappropriate. 

Although Warner's has also produced a more extensive special Blu-ray edition of Singin' in the Rain, this single-disc edition includes a lively audio commentary from Reynolds, O'Connor, Comden & Green and others, produced for the 2002 DVD. In addition to the theatrical trailer and a fun “juke box” supplement, there is a newly produced documentary presented in HD and titled Raining on a New Generation. The 50-minute doc has interviews with numerous contemporary dancers, choreographers and directors (perhaps too many from TV's Glee and Disney's High School Musicals) about the film's continued impact and lasting appeal.

This new Blu-ray brings the timeless genre classic to the digital age, with all its satiric humor, fresh musicality, groundbreaking dancing and fabled Hollywood "glamour" (which it manages to parody) deftly preserved. The film’s significant Technicolor charms are perfectly suited to the high-def format, one capable of making color, light and sound larger than life. This outstanding entertainment exemplifies the Freed Unit's unique brilliance at its apex, making it truly "a glorious feeling" to add to any home collection.

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