Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
For plot, the movie looks at the early years of sound in cinema. With The Jazz Singer such a success, studio head R.F. Simpson (Millard Mitchell) decides to turn the latest silent picture starring frequent headliners Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (nominee Jean Hagen) into a “talkie.” Not so easy, considering Lamont’s voice sounds like a mouse imitating tire screeches. Friend Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor) suggests they dub her voice with background singer Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), who Lockwood met while fleeing a flock of fans.
The real draw, of course, is the musical numbers. Of all musicals, The Wizard of Oz and Singin’ in the Rain are the most difficult to pick a single favorite number from. Oz may have the most memorable songs, but Singin’ in the Rain has the best overall choreography and performances. Just take a look at the title number (ranked #3 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Songs list), “Make ‘Em Laugh” (#49) and “Good Morning” (#72), which all make flawless use of sets, props and character. (My personal favorite is “Make ‘Em Laugh,” with the rubbery Donald O’Connor hamming it up and using clothes, lumber, couches, and walls as part of the act.)
While O’Connor, Kelly and Reynolds get much of the credit (and their faces on all of the promotional material), one of the greatest draws of the film is Jean Hagen, who earned one of just two Oscar nominations for the film. She, with that painful squeal and dim-brained demeanor, steals every scene she’s in and is part of the film’s best non-music moments, like the disastrous test screening.
Produced by the legendary Arthur Freed and co-directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, Singin’ in the Rain is a full-blown dazzling display of Technicolor, excitement, amusement, talent, and energy. What a glorious feeling!
Commentary by Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, co-director Stanley Donen, screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green, filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, and author/historian Rudy Behlmer: Put together using interviews with all nine contributors, this commentary offers a wealth of information regarding the making and historical significance of Singin’ in the Rain.
Singin’ in the Rain: Raining on a New Generation (50:48): An assortment of interviewees, including various choreographers, singers and musicians, discuss the legacy and style of Singin’ in the Rain, as well as how it influenced modern dancers and choreographers.
A Jukebox feature and the Theatrical Trailer round out the special features on the Blu-ray.
Musicals Great Musicals (1:26:03): Directed by David Thompson, this 1996 documentary looks at the life and career of legendary producer Arthur Freed, whose work at MGM included such classics as An American in Paris, Meet Me in St. Louis, On the Town, Singin’ in the Rain, and many, many more. Interviewees include star Cyd Charisse, director Stanley Donen, screenwriters/lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green, choreographer Michael Kidd, and many more.
What a Glorious Feeling (35:33): Debbie Reynolds hosts his 2002 documentary, which chronicles the making of Singin’ in the Rain and features interviews with some of the cast and crew. Although a lot of information is recycled and the (by now) familiar faces show up, it’s still a solid watch for fans.
Excerpts from Features Where the Songs Originated (50:11): All but one of the songs in Singin’ in the Rain (“Moses Supposes”) were lifted from other films. There are twelve numbers featured here, including “All I Do Is Dream of You” from Sadie McKee, “Good Morning” from Babe in Arms and, of course, “Singin’ in the Rain” from The Hollywood Revue of 1929.
You Are My Lucky Star Outtake (4:06): This deleted number features Debbie Reynolds.
Scoring Stage Sessions: Recorded in 1951 on MGM’s scoring stage, these 26 audio-only pieces include demos and alternate/unused versions of classic Singin’ in the Rain numbers.
Also included is a Gallery.
A DVD of Singin’ in the Rain.
60th Anniversary Ultimate Edition Collectibles:
48-page Hardcover Commemorative Book
Collectible Full-Size Umbrella with Charm
Original Theatrical Door Panel Display Reproductions