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Meet Me in St. Louis (BFI Film Classics) Paperback – 1 Nov 1994

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Product details

  • Paperback: 71 pages
  • Publisher: BFI Publishing; First Edition edition (1 Nov 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0851705014
  • ISBN-13: 978-0851705019
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 0.6 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 603,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Gerald Kaufman is Member of Parliament for Manchester Gorton. He is a film critic and writes extensively on cinema, theater, television, and politics. He is the author of "My Life in the Silver Screen."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Chrestomanci VINE VOICE on 25 Feb 2004
Format: Paperback
If you are a fan of MGM’s wonderful musical MEET ME IN ST LOUIS, then this book is essential reading! A real behind the scenes look at the making of a cinema classic. So much detail including: how the amazing Margaret O’Brian managed such an accomplished performance at her tender age; problems encountered by Judy Garland’s continual lack of punctuality; an insight into Minnelli’s directing style; and plenty of great photos of various scenes.
Surprisingly, one thing not mentioned: in the ‘Under the Bamboo Tree’ number, watch for the continuity error ... Tootie’s slippers change colour before the final dance sequence!
If you love this film then you’ll love this book too!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Lovers of Minnelli, Judy and this film: look elsewhere. 19 Dec 2001
By darragh o'donoghue - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Rarely has a book made me so HOT with ANGER. Gerald Kaufman's monograph on Vincente Minnelli's extraordinary 1944 musical purports to be a celebration of a great film and its multi-talented director. Not so. Despite proving a lifelong familiarity with Minnelli's work, despite his intimate knowledge of Minnelli's idiosyncratic style, his mastery of decor, camerawork and choreography, Kaufman can still write: 'I never deluded myself that he was a great director, up in the pantheon with Eisenstein and Renoir'. And why, may we ask, does Minnelli merit less regard than a Stalinist stooge? 'Minnelli was not a great director because he had nothing to say'. WHAT???!! Kaufman either believes this, and so shouldn't be writing this book; or he doesn't, but has an inferiority complex about the relative cultural worth of the musical, and definitely shouldn't be writing it. I don't know what he expects his cinema to 'say' - presumbably deal with heavyweight subjects such as social deprivation, war crimes or factory life. When it comes to movies 'saying' anything, I'm with Sam Goldwyn; 'If you have a message, use Western Union'.
Minnelli's style - which Kaufman recognises but misunderstands, characterising it as 'ostentatious' and 'glossy' - is so meticulously orchestrated because it expresses the characters' inner lives, their joys, dreams, desires, fantasies, fears (Minnelli himself said his mises-en-scenes were purposely designed to invade the unconscious of the audience, which Kaufman notes but doesn't seem to understand). He accuses the film of feel-good escapism, excising any of the less utopian aspects of the source material. But it is in Minnelli's style that these repressed elements are visualised. Kaufman doesn't seem to have read Thomas Elsaesser's or Geoffrey Nowell-Smith's pioneering articles on Minnelli's use of melodrama, the way he used his style of 'excess' (of colour, decor, music etc.) to give expression to those darker elements euphemised in the scripts. How can a film, even one glowing with cheer as 'Meet Me in St. Louis', with the terrifying Hallowe'en sequence, in which a young girl in a happy family spies on a chilly, loveless marriage; with repeated references to death and the possibilities of sexual unfulfilment; with its undermining the security of unchanging family life with the intrusions of modernity; with its father who must repress his professional (in a sense, 'creative') capabilities; how can such a film be called simply 'feel-good', untrue to life? As Oscar Wilde suggested: 'behind the perfection of a man's style, must lie the passion of a man's soul'. Minnelli's soul BURNS.
Kaufman's wilful blindness is of a piece with the whole book. He deliberately misinterprets the auteur theory, before going on to prove it by noting the continuities throughout Minnelli's career, despite working in different genres and as a director-for-hire. He fails to recognise 'A Star Is Born' as one of the most overpowering experiences in cinema (sacrilege!!). There is a distastefully censorious tone in his account of Judy Garland's 'erratic behaviour' on set, like a disapproving headmaster correcting an errant schoolgirl, failing to note the minor fact that MGM had pumped her full of drugs since she was a child to maximise her utility value. He concludes with a hectoring speech about society's modern ills (Kaufman's day-job is as Member of Parliament for the ruling New Labour government).
Students will find this book interesting enough in a plodding way, as Kaufman laboriously and pompously recounts the film's troubled production from his undigested study of MGM records (dull reams of which are quoted verbatim). But there is one paragraph in this book quoted from Joseph Andrew Casper's 'Vincente Minnelli and the Film Musical', which contains more critical insight and empathy then the whole of this 70-page monograph. For Minnelli fans and lovers of the musical THAT sounds like the book to get.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great Guide To Minnelli's Classic Musical! 4 July 2013
By Thomas Mberta - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A must have for "Meet Me In St. Louis" fans! Unusually satisfying in its text and presentation. GERALD KAUFMAN GETS IT!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great film... 1 Feb 2013
By Mark D. Wood - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
... and the book is nice to have as a companion piece. Really??? 8 more words needed for this too... I wont do any more reviews if I have to be edited!
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