Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Video review: "Singin' in the Rain 60th Anniversary"
Since "Singin' in the Rain" came out 60 years ago, it has frequently been called the greatest movie musical ever. Who am I to disagree?
So what is it that makes this comedy/romance so engaging, so memorable, so iconic? There's the music, of course -- several classic tunes like the title song, "You Are My Lucky Star," "Make 'Em Laugh," All I Do is Dream of You" and others.
Then there are the terrific dance numbers. Gene Kelly combined a ballet dancer's grace with an athlete's masculine intensity. The scene where he sloshes through the rain puddles in the street was an instant classic. And who can forget Donald O'Connor literally running up the wall?
For me, what makes "Singin'" sensational is the timeless quality of its story. Even though it's about a very specific Hollywood era -- the transition from silent to sound movies -- the basic parable of the strutting peacock who learns humility and compassion is a cultural archetype that still resonates.
And that cast! Kelly and O'Connor shone as matinee idol Don Lockwood and his sidekick Cosmo, while a teenage Debbie Reynolds became a star playing small-town girl Kathy Selden. Jean Hagen was a hoot as squeaky-voiced Lina Lamont, and Cyd Charisse performed a memorable pas de deux with Kelly.
In the end, the reason "Singin' in the Rain" is so great is that it was simply the best expression of the musical genre -- exuberant Hollywood razzmatazz, sweet love story, fall-down funny jokes and a poignant moment or two.
To celebrate the film's 60th anniversary, Warner Bros. has issued a special edition loaded with goodies.
A commentary track includes insights from various stars and filmmakers who worked on the movie, both living as dead -- Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor, Cyd Charisse, Adolph Green, Stanley Donen among them -- as well as reflections from modern practitioners of the musical genre like Baz Luhrmann.
"Singin' in the Rain: Raining on a New Generation" is an all-new documentary to go with some existing features repurposed from previous editions. There are also outtakes, a gallery of stills and featurettes about producer Arthur Freed's legacy at MGM.
Movie: 4 stars out of four
Extras: 3.5 stars