on 16 July 2014
MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS  [Deluxe Limited Edition DigiBook] [Blu-ray] [US Import] M-G-M’s Glorious Love Story With Music! M-G-M’s Big Happy-Hearted Hit!
St. Louis 1903. The well-off Smith family has four beautiful daughters, including Esther and little Tootie. Seventeen-year old Esther has fallen in love with John, the boy next door who has just moved in. He, however, barely notices her at first. The family is shocked when Mr. Smith reveals that he has been transferred to a nice position in New York, which means that the family has to leave St. Louis just before the start of the St. Louis 1904 World's Fair.
FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: Academy Awards®: Nominated: Best Cinematography for Color. Nominated: Best Music and Scoring of a Musical Picture. Nominated: Best Music and Song for Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin for "The Trolley Song." Nominated: Best Writing for a Screenplay. Academy Juvenile Award: Margaret O'Brien.
Cast: Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien, Mary Astor, Lucille Bremer, Leon Ames, Tom Drake, Marjorie Main, Harry Davenport, June Lockhart, Henry H. Daniels Jr., Joan Carroll, Hugh Marlowe, Robert Sully, Chill Wills, Sidney Barnes (uncredited), Joe Cobb (uncredited), Victor Cox (uncredited), Donald Curtis (uncredited), Kenneth Donner (uncredited), Mary Jo Ellis (uncredited), Helen Gilbert (uncredited), Buddy Gorman (uncredited), Gary Gray (uncredited), Sam Harris (uncredited), Darryl Hickman (uncredited), Charlotte Hunter (uncredited), Belle Mitchell (uncredited), The Music Maids (uncredited), Mayo Newhall (uncredited), Sid Newman (uncredited), John Phipps (uncredited), Billy Royle (uncredited), Group Seckler (uncredited), William Smith (uncredited), Myron Tobias (uncredited), Dorothy Tuttle (uncredited), Leonard Walker (uncredited) and Kenneth Wilson (uncredited)
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Producer: Arthur Freed and Roger Edens (uncredited)
Screenplay: Fred F. Finklehoffe, Irving Brecher, Doris Gilver (uncredited), Sarah Y. Mason (uncredited), Victor Heerman (uncredited), William Ludwig (uncredited) and Sally Benson (story)
Composers: Ralph Blane, Hugh Martin, Conrad Salinger (uncredited) and Roger Edens (uncredited)
Costume Design: Irene Sharaff
Cinematography: George J. Folsey
Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English: 5.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, French: Dolby Digital Mono and Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Running Time: 178 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 2
Studio: Warner Home Video / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘Meet Me In St. Louis’  is a delightful, classic, nostalgic, poignant, and romanticized musical film and one of the greatest musicals ever made. It tells the story of a turn-of-the-century family in suburban, Midwestern St. Louis of 1903, who live in a stylish Edwardian home at 5135 Kensington Avenue. The city, and the well-to-do Smith family (with four beautiful daughters), is on the verge of hosting and celebrating the arrival of the spectacular 1904 World's Fair. However, the family's head of the house is beckoned to New York due to a job promotion - an uprooting move that threatens to indelibly change the lives of the family members forever. Filmed during WWII, the decision to remain in St. Louis in the film's conclusion affirmed that nothing will be altered for the American family. This gem of cinematic, picture-postcard Americana and youthful romance is richly filmed in Technicolor. It marked the beginning of the golden age of M-G-M musicals and producer Arthur Freed's unit, and ultimately became the second most successful film for M-G-M.
The story is based on the book of the same name from Sally Benson's memoirs of her life in St. Louis, Missouri from 1903-4 - they were recalled and written in multiple issues of The New Yorker Magazine from 1941-1942 and originally published under the title "5135 Kensington" and eventually gathered together as The Kensington Stories. The charming stories, a dozen in all to represent each of the twelve months of the year, are expressed in the film in its musical numbers. The film abandoned the 'put-on-a-show' mentality of so many other backstage song/dance films. Its songs and wonderful performances are carefully and naturally integrated into the story of the close-knit family's day-to-day life, and serve to advance the action and plot from one season to the next. This most popular and financially-successful film was produced by the legendary Arthur Freed.
The Vincente Minnelli and Judy Garland collaboration did not get off to a happy start, thanks to the director's perfectionism and his star's determination to parody the sweet, naive 17-year-old she was playing. Judy Garland, now in her early 20s, was weary of playing juveniles and wanted to move on to more sophisticated roles. During the first day of shooting, Minnelli demanded endless retakes because of dissatisfaction with Judy Garland's line readings, while Garland was reportedly in near-hysterics and demanded that producer Freed intercede. Gradually, however, Judy Garland began to appreciate her director's vision and settled down to deliver an unaffected performance of great sincerity. Soon she and Vincente Minnelli became a couple and were engaged by the end of filming. They would wed on June 15, 1945, and divorce in 1952.
‘Meet Me in St. Louis’ broke box-office records and won high critical praise including The Hollywood Reporter's description, "a warmly human entertainment which has captured a nostalgic charm rarely if ever equalled on the screen." A critic for Variety wrote, "Miss Garland achieves true stature with her deeply understanding performance."
Blu-ray Video Quality – The film is accurately framed at 1.37:1 and presented in a stunning 1080p encoded image. The transfer features a number of impressive qualities, not least of which is the Technicolor. Viewers should be thrilled by its depth and fidelity, particularly in the final act where the reds and greens of the Smith Sisters’ gowns look incredibly rich and luxurious. Detail is also excellent, revealing healthy levels of grain uncompromised by noise reduction or other digital processing measures. Contrast and black levels are likewise strong, displaying the full range of values with no signs of compression. More eagle-eyed viewers will probably notice a few instances of very slight colour shifts and blemishes, but nothing that isn’t understandable given the film’s age.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The audio dialogue in the 5.0 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is consistently clear, detailed and intelligible. Vocals in the musical numbers are especially pleasing, exhibiting fine detail and dynamic range. Surround channel activity is minimal, providing only very light support for the film score. But the track shows consistent depth and fullness throughout the film’s 178 minutes.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: Introduction by Liza Minnelli [480i] [4:3] [4:59] Offers up some interesting titbits about the film relating several stories from her mother and father, Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli, including Louis B. Mayer’s scepticism after hearing the initial storyline. Nice to have Liza Minnelli does the introduction in light of it being her mother’s favourite film.
Audio Commentary: Commentary by John Fricke, Margaret O'Brien, Irving Brecher, Hugh Martin and Barbara Freed-Saltzman: This unusually excellent and informative commentary is hosted by John Fricke, who wrote one of the best biographies of Garland, and features a wealth of background data on the production from virtually every imaginable angle. There's a lot of heartfelt reminiscing from O'Brien, who has a very funny anecdote about her mother spiriting her off to Morocco after Louis B. Mayer refused a pay increase, and Hugh Martin, who reveals some surprising information about his collaboration with Ralph Blane.
Special Feature: Meet Me in St. Louis: The Making of an American Classic  [480i] [4:3] [30:47] This features tons of clips and interviews with many of the film’s participants, including Margaret O’Brien’s [Tootie Smith] Honorary Oscar acceptance speech and older footage of Vincente Minnelli. The feature delves into great detail about the set built on the back-lot, as well as the set decorators and costumers. This is a very solid and nice feature. Other contributors to this special feature are Roddy McDowall, Barbara Saltzman, Lucille Bremer, Dorothy Raye, Vincente Minnelli (archive footage), Liza Minnelli (voice) and Hugh Martin.
Special Feature: Hollywood: The Dream Factory  [480i] [4:3] [50:31] This is a great 1972 M-G-M documentary detailing some of Hollywood's greatest films, musicals and non-musicals and is a great documentary on the M-G-M studio. M-G-M Studios, which was formed the result of a merger between Metro Pictures and owned by the Loews Company and the Goldwyn Company, was the premier Hollywood movie studio from the mid 1920's to the end of the 1950's, when a court ruling dissolved the close association between movie studios and movie theatres leading to the end of the studio system that controlled what happened in Hollywood, and when television became a rival form of accessible entertainment. Led by Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg but not with obstacles, M-G-M was the best of the studios at perpetuating the dream that anything was possible, both in front of the cameras and in the lives of Hollywood royalty, namely the film stars. Within a generation, movies became the largest money making form of entertainment. The public went to see films in droves even during the depression, wanted to learn about and be close to the personal lives of the Hollywood rich and famous, and aspired to be part of that Hollywood royalty. Narrated by Dick Cavett.
Special Feature: Becoming Attractions: Judy Garland  [480i] [4:3] [46:10] This is a Robert Osborne hosted TCM special which looks back over Judy Garland's storied career courtesy of trailers for her films. This special reveals how Hollywood sold stars and their movies to fans, featuring compilations of vintage film trailers. It has a in-depth look at the marketing of Judy Garland, tracing her rise from juvenile act to one of M-G-M's biggest stars.
Special Feature: Meet Me in St. Louis 1966 TV Pilot  [480i] [4:3] [26:35] This never made it to air, but is a sweet little prospective series with Shelley Fabares, Celeste Holm, and Wesley Addy (Celeste Holm's husband). Based on the characters from the M-G-M hit of the same name, this TV pilot is about one day in the life of the Smith family. At the turn of the twentieth century, the family is throwing a party for a visitor in their neighbourhood. Heartaches and laughter ensue.
Special Feature: Bubbles  [480i] [4:3] [7:54] This is a fantastic 1930 Warner Bros. Vitaphone short featuring a very young Judy Garland and still part of The Gumm Sisters. It also features costumed children in a cavern-like land of 'make believe' where they sing and tap dance. Marjorie Kane sings an introductory song.
Special Feature: Skip to My Lou  [480i] [4:3] [3:11] A rare 1941 “soundie” features future “Meet Me In St. Louis” song writing team Martin and Blane as part of a singing group known as the Martins. The arrangement performed is the same version they interpolated into their film score three years later. Four dancers, two males and two females, merrily dance to the merry tune of "Skip to my Lou."
Special Feature [57:00] Audio Vault contains "Boys and Girls Like You and Me" Outtake. The Lux Radio Theater Broadcast was broadcast on the 2nd December, 1946 at the CBS network. "Meet Me In St. Louis" was Sponsored by: Lux. A charming turn-of-the century romance set in St. Louis before the opening of the great 1904 Fair. Judy introduces "The Trolley Song" (among others), and even Gale Gordon sings. Judy Garland and the young Margaret O’Brien reprise their roles from the Metro Goldwyn Meyer’s 1944 screen hit in this Lux radio Theater version of ‘Meet Me In St Louis’ based on the novel of the same name by Sally Benson. The story begins the year before the 1904 St Louis fair and revolves around the Smith family and the loves and romances of the four Smith daughters. Music Only Track.
Theatrical Trailer  [480i] [4:3] [1:42] This is actually a reissue 1955 theatrical trailer of ‘Meet Me in St. Louis.’
BONUS: Compact Disc Sampler includes the three Martin-Blane originals from the score as well as Judy Garland and Lucille Bremer performing the title song. The four tracks include “Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis,” “The Boy Next Door,” “The Trolley Song,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
Deluxe Limited Edition DigiBook Packaging: This includes a wealth of photographs along with some frankly fairly useless text.
Finally, Warner Home Video delivers a stellar presentation for ‘Meet Me in St. Louis,’ is a great M-G-M musical that charms with its unabashed idealism. With the extras carrying over the majority of extras from the 2004 inferior NTSC DVD special edition, and adding in a couple fine physical items, the Blu-ray release is an obvious upgrade for owners of the standard definition version. ‘Meet Me in St. Louis,’ is a classic Hollywood Musical that will never be forgotten, because it is fun, enjoyable and timeless and Warner Home Video presentation of the film is close to perfection and nothing short of a stunning Blu-ray release, that cannot be beaten. For first-time purchasers, it also qualifies as a “must buy.” Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom