It’s singing and dancing and racing on Blu-ray with the release of Singin’ in the Rain and Chariots of Fire from Warner Home Video.
At long last, Singin’ in the Rain comes to Blu-ray and we can finally experience Hollywood’s most beloved musical at its Technicolor best in HD. As restorer Robert Harris suggests, “It’s nothing less than a miracle.” That’s because the original three-strip negatives (save for one reel) were lost in the notorious Eastman House nitrate fire in the late ’70s. That means the best surviving elements they scanned at 4K were second and fourth generation fine grain masters. And yet Warner Bros. MPI has done a great job of seamless integrating everything into a pristine finish so we can rarely spot the generational loss. Color saturation, grain structure, contrast, black levels, shadow detail have never looked better.
The effortless physicality of Gene Kelly, Donald O ‘Connor, and Debbie Reynolds is all the greater to behold. Indeed, the early “Fit as a Fiddle” has never been fitter, just to echo Harris’ point about observing a third generation dupe. The green jumps off the screen. Likewise, the sublime “Singin’ in the Rain’ looks even more surreal after this digital restoration (above image courtesy of DVD Beaver). In addition, there’s a superb new 5.1 DTS-HD remaster that is very discreetly done. No original mono sound, so you might want to hold onto your DVD. You can purchase this as a 60th anniversary box set or separately as a Blu-ray (it contains an informative new doc).
And in light of the London Olympics, it’s the perfect opportunity to rediscover the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire from producer David Puttnam and director Hugh Hudson about the spiritual nature of racing and competition. I haven’t watched this film in decades, but immediately got caught up again in the fierce rivalry between the two track stars in the 1924 Paris Olympics: Harold Abrams (Ben Cross), the English Jew attending Cambridge, who seeks to open the doors of prejudice, and Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a Scottish preacher, who runs as a symbol of his religious faith. The racing scenes are as thrilling as ever (image courtesy of DVD Beaver enhanced by Vangelis’ Oscar-winning electronic score, which adds a timeless touch, and all the more effective in 5.1 DTS-HD. And kudos to John Cork and his new Cloverland-produced docs on the 1924 Olympics, Puttnam, and Hudson, which put it all in historical perspective.