Singin’ in the Rain: Duped Again

This entry is part 5 of 13 in the series Essays / Analyses.

Earlier this month I learned that The Valentine Theatre, a “108-year-old, 901-seat facility” in downtown Toledo would be showing Singin’ in the Rain (1952) as a part of its “Silver Screen Classics” program. As a die-hard Gene Kelly fan, I was excited. But I was also skeptical because of what happened the last time a Toledo theatre said they’d be screening arguably The Greatest Film Musical Ever Made. Would this be another DVD/LCD-projector sham? Or would this be the real thing?

Ultimately, I contacted the theatre and asked if its Singin’ in the Rain would be a 35mm print. A nice representative quickly responded that it was a “digitally remastered version of the film” with “a much higher quality than a 35mm.” Um, okay, so then it’ll resemble the 25th anniversary Back to the Future? If so, that’s cool; I mean, check out how crisp Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) look even on your small screen :

But unfortunately, Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) looked nothing like Doc and Marty. Why? Because we were merely watching a Blu-Ray disc. Sure, the screen was huge and Blu-Rays are sharp, but without a fancy digital projector, I might as well be watching the Singin’ in the Rain DVD I play for my Intro to Film students when we consider sound and sound design.

Sure, Cyd Charisse’s sparkly, fringe dress was green, but it was no greener than it is in my 140-seat classroom. And yeah, the Broadway Melody number was colorful, but it didn’t pop onscreen in a way I’d never seen it pop before. In short, I wanted the same OMG reaction I had when I saw a 35mm print of Casablanca last year in Michigan. Yep, I was duped again.

One day, I’ll be as lucky as the folks in Auburn, CA, Austin, TX, and of course, Hollywood, CA, who’ve experienced Singin’ in the Rain “for real” on the big screen. In the meantime, here are my tweets from the day of, during, and the morning after the Valentine Theatre screening. You’ll see that I go from super excited to mildly pissed off to content. Well, one can’t get too upset, right? After all, it is still an evening with Gene…

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