Chances are, you’ve seen Singin’ in the Rain. You already know how good it is. (If you’ve not seen it, I question your love of cinema.) Rain is still the greatest movie musical, and why?
- Gene Kelly. Nuff said.
- The satire of old Hollywood as it transitions from the silents to the talkies is devilishly funny.
- The whole thing bursts with color. Big props to cinematographer Harold Rosson.
- The movie is cast to perfection: Donald O’Connor (his “Make ‘Em Laugh” showcase proves he should have been a bigger star); Debbie Reynolds (adorable, and as an untrained dancer she keeps up just fine with Kelly and O’Connor); Jean Hagen (pitch perfect as a klutzy silent movie queen with a voice like a shrew); Millard Mitchell (who plays a practical producer); Cyd Charisse (an incredible dancer); Douglas Fowley (who plays a nervous director); Madge Blake (who plays a Louella Parsons-like columnist).
- The Arthur Freed-Nacio Herb Brown songs are great. Co-scenarists Betty Comden and Adolph Green incorporate them seamlessly into the story. Also, co-directors Stanley Donen and Kelly make every number stick. The Broadway medley and the tune on the deserted soundstage go on too long; but I’m being fussy.
- Aside from the sequences I just mentioned, Rain moves at a clip. It loves the era it sends up, and the pace is right for a movie that in some ways emulates the manic, speed-crazy films of the 1920s. You don’t have to wade through clunky, ham-handed segues between songs; the movie is free of the Broadway-heavy filler that makes so many musicals of the mid-20th century drag.
- The joy. Of cinema. Of corn. Of movement and being in love and dancing in the rain because, after all (as John Lennon sang), rain is just a state of mind. Singin’ in the Rain captures these affections as well as any film.
The new Warner Bros. 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray combo pack of the film celebrates its 70th anniversary. This release also supports my belief that (beyond The Boy Friend  or The Great Gatsby ) the 1920s never looked better on film. It’s enough to make a grown man cry happy tears. Older features include commentary by Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, Stanley Donen, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Baz Luhrmann, and Rudy Behlmer. There’s also a jump-to-song feature and a retrospective documentary called Singin’ in the Rain: Raining on a New Generation. The 4K UHD release is also available to own for streaming and download to watch anywhere in high or standard definition on favorite devices from select retailers (e.g., GooglePlay, Vudu, Xbox, and others).
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