194 of 198 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Classic In A Memorable DVD Package
Many critics consider MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS the single finest Hollywood musical of the 20th Century. Produced by Arthur Freed, directed by Vincent Minnelli, and sporting a flawless ensemble cast led by Judy Garland, the film was immediately hailed when it debuted in 1944--and time has only added luster to its name. Now, after several home market incarnations, it at last...
Published on April 27, 2004 by Gary F. Taylor
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars audio dropouts
Like some other reviewers I encountered a problem with audio dropouts. These dropouts occur during most of the songs, such that the soloist singers are not audible. The problem is due to the operation of the Blu-ray player: mine is a Samsung BD-P3600. I found that the problem seems to be related to the digital conversion from bitstream to PCM. When I reconfigured the...
Published 14 months ago by David M. Stanbury
Most Helpful First | Newest First
194 of 198 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Classic In A Memorable DVD Package,
Many critics consider MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS the single finest Hollywood musical of the 20th Century. Produced by Arthur Freed, directed by Vincent Minnelli, and sporting a flawless ensemble cast led by Judy Garland, the film was immediately hailed when it debuted in 1944--and time has only added luster to its name. Now, after several home market incarnations, it at last receives the edition it deserves on DVD.
Given its stature, it is ironic that both MGM and Judy Garland originally fought the project. Based on a collection of autobiographical stories by Sally Benson, the script is little more than a series of domestic adventures in the lives of the Smith family of 1903 St. Louis. But it became a thing of wonder: a careful balance of sly but gentle humor, a collection of memorable performances, an understated score shorn of the usual movie-musical affectations, and at the center of it all Judy Garland, one of Hollywood's most memorable talents.
The transfer is excellent, capturing every nuance of the film's meticulously and beautifully designed sets in full Technicolor; the sound elements, remastered in Dolby 5.1, are equally fine and Garland's unique vocal skills are undimmed by time. All in all, it seems safe to say that not even the original 1944 theatrical release could surpass the quality of picture and sound offered here.
Although the bonus package would have better without the awful pilot for a failed television series based on the film, by and large it offers a superior collection. Previously available on VHS, the Roddy McDowell-narrated "making of" documentary is worth revisiting, as is the TCM-produced "Becoming Attractions." While a number of later documentaries surpass it, "Hollywood: The Dream Factory" has never before been widely available and offers an inside glimpse of the famous 1972 MGM auction. The Martins' performance of "Skip to My Lou" a reconstruction of "Boys and Girls Like You and Me," and a collection of Vincent Minnelli movie trailers round out the offerings, all of them entertaining.
The notable audio commentary is led by film historian and Garland scholar John Fricke. I regret to say that I have several issues with Fricke, who seems to rely excessively on Vincent Minnelli's autobiography I REMEMBER IT WELL and who has a tendency to perpetuate certain myths about the film--chief among them the idea that Garland did "The Trolley Song" in a single take. (Garland prerecorded the song, the overall sequence involves at least seven unique camera set-ups, and although Garland performs most of the solo in a single take there is a change in camera set-up toward the end of her vocal.) Even so, Fricke offers considerable insight into the cast, crew, and production of MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, and the commentary is laced with remarks (some of them archival) by the likes of Margaret O'Brien, Hugh Martin, and Irving Brecher; in spite of my occasional misgivings, it really is everything one could wish an audio commentary to be.
These aside, the bonus package contains one significant and unique prize: the short film "Bubbles" and a notable audio commentary led by Hollywood and Garland historian John Fricke. Long thought lost, "Bubbles" is one of several shorts made in the early 1930s that include The Gumm Sisters, the youngest of whom would become better known as Judy Garland--a true rarity indeed.
Given the beauty of the transfer and the generally exceptional bonus package, it is difficult to imagine a better edition of this uniquely American classic. I strongly recommend it.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
79 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic musical,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Judy Garland gives one of her finest performances in the delightful period musical MEET ME IN ST LOUIS, still one of the best-loved movies of all time.
Esther Smith (Garland) is in love with "The Boy Next Door", and when she discovers that the Worlds Fair is coming to her town, everyone in St Louis is thrilled.
Her enchantment only grows when she discovers the feeling of love is mutual, but when her father announces that the family is moving to New York, the romance could be finished before it even began...
Margaret O'Brien steals every scene she's in as Esther's little sister Tootie, while the supporting cast, led by Lucille Bremer, Mary Astor and Leon Ames is first-rate.
Initially more popular at the box-office than THE WIZARD OF OZ, the evergreen MEET ME IN ST LOUIS continues to be loved by generations of movie-lovers.
51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful timeless movie loved by people of all ages.,
By A Customer
Meet Me In St. Louis is a lovely film, based on episodes in the life of a large family living in early 20th Century St. Louis at the time of the World's Fair. Judy Garland and Margaret O'Brien are both amazing in this film and are very strongly supported by the rest of the cast.
My 6 year old daughter is hooked on it too now (and I guess that's about the age when I first saw it) and we often watch it together for a treat. I have watched it countless times and am always happy to watch it again.
Meet Me in St. Louis is essentially a "pastoral" musical that celebrates the values of small town America, a popular theme in MGM musicals, especially those directed by Minelli. The so-called delights of the big metropolis New York are exposed as undesirable and compared unfavorably with the simple "purer" family life of St. Louis - which is a big city too but "doesn't seem big, out here where we live".
But it is not just a chocolate box movie, in spite of the beautiful music, romantic theme and gorgeous costumes and photography. Of course it is full of great musical set pieces - such as The Trolley Song and Skip to My Lou - but it has many "dark episodes" as well. The best is when Vincente Minelli borrows very sucessfully from the horror genre for the Halloween scene, and the dark disturbing scene when the snow people are decapitated by Tudy who would rather destroy them rather than leave them behind for strangers. Also, I'm not sure what the two nuns at the Fair mean in the final scenes, but I'm sure they are significant because the camera focuses on them rather than the lead characters who are actually talking in that scene. Maybe I'll need to watch it a few hundred times more to decide.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Technicolor Postcard From The St. Louis World's Fair,
Why isn't this on DVD yet? "Meet Me In St. Louis" is a 1940s look back to a year in the life of the Smith Family of St. Louis, the year preceding the 1904 World's Fair. This movie is visually stunning. The Technicolor photography and the camera setups are amazing (the late-night candle distinguishing is all one shot), a testiment to the talent of Vincente Minnelli and his wonderful cast, particularly his soon-to-be wife Judy Garland, who was at her most beautiful and could transform any song into something magical.
Garland gives generously to her costar, Margaret O'Brien, a sort of Shirley Temple for the forties, who is nothing short of brilliant as the morbid youngest daughter Tootie, with the fascination for "dead" dolls. Her Halloween scene is remarkable and hilarious. The minimalist plot--Will Dad take the job in New York? Will Esther marry the boy next door, John Truitt? Will Rose wind up an old maid, like Katie?--never gets in the way of the lavish staging of the musical numbers. "The Trolley Song" is like a great music video, and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is still a standard. Great for the Holidays or any day, this movie is always sure to bring a smile. Watch for a very young June Lockhart ("Timmy and Lassie", "Lost in Space")as Lucille Ballard, the much-maligned New York socialite.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful journey to a time long gone by,
"Meet Me In St. Louis" would have to be in my belief one of the most perfectly executed musicals to come out of Hollywood's golden age. While most attention always tends to go on praising "An American In Paris" and "Singin' In The Rain", both of which leave me largely cold, this film I feel is leagues ahead in quality of presentation, musical score and performances.
MGM the home of top quality musicals poured all of its creative talent both from behind and in front the camera, into making "Meet Me In St. Louis" the classic which it has become. The film relates the very simple story of a year in the life of the Smith family in St. Louis and all the trials and tribulations that each member experiences in the led up to the World's Fair. Starring the magical Judy Garland at the peak of her talents as Esther Smith and a superb supporting cast including child sensation Margaret O'Brien as the scene stealing Tootie Smith, veterans Mary Astor and Leon Ames as the Smith parents, and Margorie Main in the typical role of the no nonsense housekeeper Katie the film is overflowing with wonderful talent that gives the story their all. Indeed rarely has such a nostalgic look back at simple Americana been presented in so appealing a manner and as we get further away from thos eearlier simpler times I feel this movie grows in stature.
Produced by the famed Arthur Freed Unit at MGM and based on a short novel by Sally Benson the film cost a fortune to make in late 1943 and was a considerable gamble considering the uncertainty of how the war would turn out at that time. The risk was rewarded with a huge Box Office success that made "Meet Me In St. louis" one of the biggest hits in MGM's history. With the films lavish use of the most brilliant technicolour, the introduction of each new season within the borders of what appears like a beautiful illustrated greeting card, sumptuous sets and beautifully detailed costumes it without a doubt has been regarded as one of the most beautiful films produced by MGM during the 1940's and has become one of the great classics of any time. "Meet Me In St. Louis" provided Judy Garland with her most famous role after "The Wizard Of Oz" and amazingly she was at first very reluctant to do it as the character was a much younger woman than those she had been recently playing and she feared that she would be eternally trapped in the image of the young girl looking for love. Luckily the powers that be convinced her otherwise and she went on to create a sensation in the role of the young girl who develops a passion for the boy next door. Directed with his usual flair in the musical genre by the legendary Vincente Minnelli this is where the romance between Judy Garland andhimself began and it was continued into their next film together the outstanding drama "The Clock" resulting in marriage. Garland produced some of her finest work on film under Minnelli's direction and here she is never better where she is in turn sentimental, alive and a ball of energy. glowing with a rare beauty, and in beautiful voice to sing some of her classic trade mark songs created especially for this film. And what songs!!!. The classic "The Boy Next Door", "The Trolley Song", "Under The Bamboo Tree", and unforgettably the classic "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes like no other song you will hear. This is Garland at her shining best just before her own personal troubles began to interfere with her work leading to her being released from her contract by MGM in 1950.
The film contains so many wonderful sequences. One of my personal favourites is the famed Halloween scene which is dominated by wonderful child actress Margaret O'Brien in a scene stealing performance. Rather than just have Tootie depicted as a sweet child up to mischief they have shown her talking about all the fatal diseases her dolls are suffering from and how half of them are buried in the backyard!! Truly a delightful performance by who the critics dubbed "the pint sized Garbo". The wonderful section set during the Christmas season also helps make "Meet Me In St. Louis" such a special viewing experience. The lovely togetherness of the Smith family learning to cope with it being their last Christmas in their St. Louis home is touching and beautifully done. It's scenes such as these that make you really wonder where Hollywood's heart is nowadays as rarely do present day films touch me as much as this part of "Meet Me In St. Louis" succeeds in doing. Among the smaller roles Tom Drake is the perfect young leading man to play John Truett the eternal boy next door and the object of Esther's attention. He would be forever typed as this character and it is still the role Drake is best known for. Harry Davenport as Grandpa, June Lockhart as Lucille Ballard and Chill Wills as the iceman all round out a superb cast delivering their best in unforgettable roles.
For an enchanting excursion back to a time and place long gone from our present harder world "Meet Me In St. Louis" cannot be bettered. It is without a doubt one of the finest musicals ever produced and each screening brings out more joys to wonder at and experience. Enjoy some wonderful time with the Smith family of St Louis soon.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN EXCEPTION MUSICAL - AN OUTSTANDING TRANSFER!,
"Meet Me In St. Louis" is the quintessential teenager in love, feel good movie of the 1940s and despite the fact that the film is sixty years old, it sparkles like vintage champagne from the canons of MGM's illustrious film heritage. Judy Garland is Esther Smith, a girl pining for the affections of the boy next door (Tom Drake) while lamenting the fact that her father (Leon Ames) is about to move the family to New York. And all this before young Esther and her siblings have a chance to see the World's Fair. What's the critical desperation of youth to do? Well, if you're Judy Garland you warble one effervescent tune after the next. From The Trolley Song to Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, truly, this movie is a veritable potpourri of golden memories. Margaret O'Brien and Lucille Bremer costar as Garland's sisters. Mary Astor and Harry Davenport are ideally cast as mother and grandfather respectively. One of the great joys of cinema, Marjorie Maine, surfaces as the Smith's gregarious housekeeper.
THE TRANSFER: It's really no surprise that Warner's high resolution digital mastering has made "Meet Me In St. Louis" look and sound as it never has before. In the mid 1990s MGM home video gave us a very smart looking laserdisc box set. This DVD improves upon the resolution of the old format and provides a smooth, rich and textured visual presentation of one of Vincente Minnelli's greatest achievements. Colors are bold, rich and fully saturated. Contrast and black levels are bang on. Fine detail can be seen in even the darkest scenes. The audio has been remixed to 5.1 (as it was on the laserdisc) and is very well represented. There is nothing to complain about in this presentation.
EXTRAS: The same documentary as was previously available from MGM, narrated by Roddy McDowell and chronicling the saga of bringing this film to life plus several short subjects particularly produced for this 2-disc special edition.
BOTTOM LINE: This classic is an absolute must for anyone who loves movies - period!
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful on Christmas Day and Every Other Day,
When MGM's real lion Louis B. Mayer was approached with the idea of bringing Sally Benson's serialized New Yorker magazine stories of the sweet life in turn-of-the-century St. Louis, he balked: "Nothing happens!" And he was right. Luckily, he was convinced otherwise by his favorite studio reader. "It's FAMILY," she said, all that was needed to change his mind. Purchased as a vehicle for the studio's premier musical performer Judy Garland, it also contained a plum role for uber-moppet Margaret O'Brien. Leon Ames, June Lockhart, Mary Astor, Tom Drake and Marjorie Main round out the perfectly cast ensemble. Lucille Bremer, a personal favorite and protegee of producer Arthur Freed, was cast as Judy's sister. Lucille Who you ask? It reminds us that you can have looks, talent and even connections, but only the
public can make a star.
Vincente Minnelli, arguably the greatest director of film musicals during the Golden Age, or any age, deserves 100% of the credit for turning St. Louis into a living, breathing, breathtaking postcard. A famous contemporary review of the film called it "a musical even the deaf will enjoy." Minnelli painstakingly chose and matched the rich colors of the sets and costumes, designed the innovative lighting and somehow turned Garland- no raving beauty - into a raving beauty.
He gets flawless performances out of Garland and Bremer as St. Louis lovelies on the cusp of their first romances, and a delightful portrayal from little Miss O'Brien, a performer so canny that, like Shirley Temple, she was sometimes accused of secretly being an adult midget. The DVD is worth the price of purchase if only for O'Brien's Halloween sequence, which is pure Minnelli- as visually rich as you can get without going over the top.
Garland is at her World War Two peak and at the height of her broad appeal. As her career progressed and well-publicized problems added layers to her personality, she cast a narrower net for her audiences. In "St. Louis," however, we can enjoy a more innocent Judy portraying an innocent girl at a most innocent time, in the most innocent and pure of locales- the MGM soundstage. So lushly mounted is the film that the music (after all, it is a musical) seems an afterthought. It is a joyous collection of tunes that fit the story and move the plot along.
"The Boy Next Door" and "The Trolley Song" showcase both the bitter and the sweet sides of Garland. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is a holiday delight, seldom sung anymore because after Judy sings a song, it becomes... well, a "Judy song." On every level, "Meet Me in St. Louis" is as perfect a film musical as one could hope to see year after year.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A musical period piece and Bremer's best part,
This film, the highwater mark of artistry at the Freed Unit at MGM, deserves the lavish restoration it has received here in this 2 disc DVD version. It was directed with impeccable taste by Vincente Minnelli; indeed the director exceeds himself by, at times, going beyond taste and exploring the darker sides of the human psyche, especially in the scenes he gives to your Margaret O'Brien, playing the little girl "Tootie" as no young girl had ever been portrayed in the movies before. (The great film critic James Agee wrote a beautiful encomium of O'Brien's performance that you can read in AGEE ON FILM.) It also seems that Minnelli, devoted to Judy Garland, and really a visionary in seeing things in her that no one had previously bothered to locate, invested her with a confidence and a style that really paid off for not only had she never acted better, but she never looked more beautiful, before or after IMHO.
Liza introduces the movie, she doesn't look so bad, odd to think she must be ages older than Judy when she died. On the second disc you get some documentaries and one of them is great because it preserves the comments made by some of the cast members who have passed on, especially Lucile Bremer, who plays Rose, Esther's older sister and who must have died about 8 years ago if I remember right. Poor Lucile Bremer! This was her first movie, what a smashing debut and she looks so attractive, if a little strange, and then poor thing made only three more movies for the Freed Unit and then she had to find work in Mexico, the UK, and then right to Poverty Row for the "HUMAN GORILLA" and her whole career was over a mere four years after it began! People whispered that she had gotten her MGM contract because she was the back street "date" of Arthur Freed himself, but actually she was kind of like Marion Davies, you know, maligned but actually when you watch her she's really quite talented and lovely and funny. Some say she looks kind of like Joan Crawford (hard and cold) and that she moves like a python, but that's fair neither to Crawford nor to the python species. If you don't like her as Rose, you certainly won't like her in YOLANDA AND THE THIEF or RUTHLESS.
But all in all, MEET ME in ST. LOUIS is grand. Don't miss out on this Technicolor Valentine to three great actresses (and Mary Astor too who sings up a storm in her big number "You and I.")
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Judy proves she was great,
Meet Me in St Louis is a year in the life of the Smith family. It is divided into the four seasons -summer, fall, winter and spring. The film is based on a series of New Yorker Magazine articles and the subsequent book by Sally Benson. It takes place at a time where life was simpler and everyone had manners.
Liza Minnelli has a nice five
We are introduced to Mrs. Smith - mama / Anna (Mary Astor) and Katie (Marjorie Main), the maid, making catsup. One by one each of the family members arrive, only son Lonnie (Henry H Daniels, jr), third daughter Agnes (Joan Carroll), grandpa (Harry Davenport), middle child Ester (Judy Garland), oldest daughter Rose (Lucille Bremer), youngest daughter Tootie (Margaret O'Brien), and Mr. Smith - papa / Alonzo sr. (Leon Ames).
The newcomer is neighbor John Truitt (Tom Drake). Ester has decided that she is going to marry him. Rose has her own beau, Yale man Warren Sheffield. Ester pines after John with the famous song "The Boy Next Door".
To get John and Ester together, Rose invites him to Lonnie's going away party (he's becoming a Princeton man). The party has two great numbers, the ensemble piece Skip to My Lou and the Garland / O'Brien duet under the bamboo tree. The party ends leaving Ester and John alone together. This leads to one of the most romantic scenes ever. Ester and John are turning out the gas lights. The way Minnelli shot it showed his love for Garland. The two never do anything more than shake hands but you can see the chemistry.
The next scene is probably the film's most famous. The "youngsters" are going out to Fairground construction site on the trolley. Everyone is there except for John Truitt. Everyone sings the Oscar nominated The Trolley Song. When Ester sees John, she joins in.
This is Halloween night. This is a wonderful sequence. It shows how Halloween was celebrated at the turn of the century. It is not the commercial event it is now. Kids would go to the houses of those they feared and throw flour in their face to "kill" them. Tootie takes on the most feared man in town.
Father announces that he has been made head of the New York office and the family will be moving after Christmas.
Lonnie is home and he has a crush on Lucille Ballard (June Lockhart). The big event is the Christmas Eve dance. Since Lucille has snubbed Lonnie for Warren, Ester and Rose have decided to dominate all the men at the dance. Disaster strikes when John's suit is locked in the tailor shop but grandpa comes to the rescue. Of course, Lucille tells Warren to go with Rose and she will be with Lonnie. This sticks Ester with Lucille's dance card from hell. But of course John shows up in time for the last dance.
After the dance, the John asks Ester to marry him. When she goes home, she finds Tootie waiting up for Santa Claus. This leads to Ester singing the greatest Christmas song of all time, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
In the end, papa decides that the family will stay in St. Louis. Oh and Warren tells Rose they are getting married!
The Louisiana Purchase Exposition (World's Fair) is opening and everyone is going in their finest.
Many felt that Meet Me in St Louis was one of the best films of 1944. Unfortunately it only received 4 Oscar Nominations (no wins). I agree that it was best and should have been nominated for Best Picture, Judy should have been nominated for Best Actress and Vincent for Best Director.
It is well known that this is the film where Judy and Vincent met and fell in love. You can see it in every scene. This was a work of love.
DVD EXTRAS -
Introduction by Liza Minnelli -
Commentary by John Fricke with Margaret O'Brien, Irving Brecher, Hugh Martin and Babra Freed Saltzman
Music-only Track - This has the movie with only the musical score, no dialog or other sounds including singing.
Meet Me in St. Louis: Making of an American Classic - Roddy McDowell narrates the 30 minute documentary made in 1994. It tells the origins of the film from the adaptation of the New Yorker Magazine articles to the casting and the making of film with new and vintage interviews with Margaret O'Brien, Lucille Bremer, Hugh Martin, Vincent Minelli, and Liza Minelli. This has some interesting insights into the film.
Hollywood: The Dream Factory - This 50 minute documentary made in 1972 is a history of MGM. It is narrated by Dick Cavat. It has obviously been put on the DVD as a filler. It is nice but noting special. The only fun thing is a sequence at the end where Elizabeth Taylor grows from Lassie to Father of the Bride to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Becoming Attractions: Judy Garland - TCM's 46 minute compilation of Judy Garland film trailers hosted by film historian Robert Osborne. If you are Judy fan this is fun to watch.
Meet Me in St. Louis TV pilot - The 1965 television pilot starring Shelly Fabares, Rita Shaw and Celeste Holm written by Sally Benson. It was a typical 60's TV show - very hooky but any chance to see Celeste Holm is worth a one time look. What was interesting is that it was shot in color before color TV.
Bubbles - a 1930 Warner Bros short subject with Judy Garland (as part of the Gumm Sisters). She appears for a couple of seconds about 2 minutes in to the short. These are always fun to see.
Skip to My Lou - a 1941 short featuring songwriters Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane. And the orchestration of the song will sound quite familiar!
Audio Vault - contains two items - Boys and Girls Like You and Me - Rogers and Hammerstein's song that was cut from the film. A brief intro has been inserted and the song is performed over stills.
12/02/46 Lux Radio Theater Broadcast - It was not uncommon to promote a movie to perform an abridged version of the film on the radio. This features Judy, Margret and Tom and Gale Gordon as papa and contains the original commercials (running time 57 minutes).
Stills gallery - assortment of stills from the movie and production.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Holiday Tradition,
At our house, Judy Garland musicals have become part of an annual cycle: Easter Parade in Spring, The Harvey Girls in Summer, and, of course, Meet Me in St. Louis in Winter. Despite the title and the progression of the narrative over the course of a year, this is essentially heartwarming family Christmas story that provides us with a glimpse into a world long past. The casting is superb, and the interweaving of traditional music and the Martin & Blane songs written for the movie is seamless.
We loved our VHS edition to death and replaced it with the DVD version which offers better sound and crisper scenes. The bonus interviews are fascinating, too. It was quite interesting to learn that "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" originally had a somewhat morbid tone. In short, I highly recommend the movie and the Two-Disc Special Edition.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Meet Me in St Louis (Two-Disc Special Edition) by Vincente Minnelli (DVD - 2011)