In the annals of cinema, there are a number of classic films that embody and represent the marvel and spectacle of Hollywood. Warner Bros has been releasing fantastic remastered versions of some of these movies as Ultimate Collector’s Editions, including Ben-Hur and Casablanca, both of which we previously covered. The latest release in this masterful tribute series is the Singin’ in the Rain 60th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition.
Full disclosure here: Prior to receiving this box set for review, I never had watched Singin’ in the Rain. Sure, I knew the title song, but that’s mostly thanks to having gone on The Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios so many times, where Gene Kelly eternally belts out the ditty while hanging from a lamp post, thanks to the magic of modern animatronics. Come to think of it, that ride was, for most of my life, my sole exposure to Casablanca, The Public Enemy, and loads of other Hollywood classics. I clearly need more of these Ultimate Collector’s Editions sets in my life.
I suspect that I’m not alone in my awareness of Singin’ in the Rain’s place in film history but not of the film’s particulars. Produced in 1952, the movie actually is set in the late 1920s and essentially is a period film about Hollywood’s transition from the silent film era into the heyday of talkies. Gene Kelly, who also directs and choreographs the film, stars as Don Lockwood, a silent film favorite who is saddled with the grating Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) as his leading lady. In the interest of studio promotion, Don and Lina’s on screen love stories play out in the press as a real life love affair, an arrangement Don persistently opposes. When the Hollywood landscape suddenly faces a drastic format change and Don’s studio head R.F. Simpson (Millard Mitchell) makes the decision to move away from silent films, their newest movie must be reedited and dubbed to include voices. It’s around then that newcomer Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) enters the scene, and she and Don immediately are drawn to each other. Infuriated by the new girl on the block, Lina seeks to derail the film by any means necessary, leading to a lot of hilarity and drama as Don, R.F., Kathy, and Don’s friend Cosmo (Donald O’Connor) work to salvage their movie.
The newly released Ultimate Collector’s Edition of Singin’ in the Rain is the latest entry in Warner Bros’ ongoing series of film classics with outstanding remasters and repackaging. The big white box matches those of Casablanca and Ben-Hur, the previous movies featured in the series. There’s a plastic slipcover that wraps around a sturdy white lidded box. Inside the box, the movie and its on-disc bonus features are assembled as a three-disc pack with one Blu-ray and two DVDs. Also included are a 48-page commemorative hardcover book, a full-size red umbrella, and reproductions of the original theatrical door panel display. The book is full of photos and behind the scenes details about the making of the film, something collectors, fans, and cinephiles will want to add to their collections. The pack-ins are well presented and fun to have, but the real selling point for this set comes in the discs included. The movie itself is presented in both Blu-ray and DVD, and the third disc is a DVD loaded up with bonus features. Some of the many special features follow:
- Audio Commentary – Presented alongside the high definition version of the movie is a commentary by Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, Stanley Donen, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Baz Luhrmann, and Rudy Behlmer.
- Singin’ in the Rain: Raining on a New Generation – A current documentary that runs nearly an hour in length and that has today’s stars of music and choreography discussing Singin’ in the Rain. This one is included on the Blu-ray and presented in high definition.
- Theatrical Trailer – The original preview for Singin’ in the Rain from 1952
- Juke Box Jump-to-Song Feature – A bookmarking feature on the Blu-ray that allows you to skip around the movie to create a playlist of song selections.
- The Making of Singin’ in the Rain – A standard definition documentary from 2002 that is hosted by Debbie Reynolds and that features many of the other cast and crew members.
- Musicals Great Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit at MGM – Feature length documentary from 1996 detailing the life and career of Arthur Freed, the producer behind Singin’ in the Rain.
- You Are My Lucky Star – A deleted scene and song performance
Warner’s Ultimate Collector’s Edition releases have lived up to their names so far. If you are a longtime fan of Singin’ in the Rain, this is the best possible way you can add the movie to your collection. If you’re a first time viewer, the box set’s pricetag might be a bit steep for your inaugural viewing. Whether you choose to pick up the big box or the standalone Blu-ray edition, which also released in July, you can’t go wrong with this delightful Hollywood classic. The Singin’ in the Rain Ultimate Collector’s Edition released on July 17, 2012, and is in stores now.