The story begins in summer of 1903, some seven months before the World’s Fair arrives inSt. Louis. The film is then divided up into the seasons as we follow the life of the Smith family.At the centre is Judy Garland as Esther Smith, backed up by a very young Margaret O’Brien aslittle sister “Tootie.” In terms of plot, nothing much happens: Garland falls in love, and there issome tension when it seems that the pater familias has landed a job in New York and the familywill ha…e to move. What there are, of course, are plenty of songs.
The songs are the film’s primary reason for being, and a catchy bunch they are (I’m stilltrying to get the title song out of my head). The lack of any clear storyline (which Liza Minnellirefers to in her introduction) isn’t actually a flaw. The goal here is to make the audience feelwarm and fuzzy through Technicolor nostalgia, a goal at which the film succeed admirably.
On top of the original 1.0 mono, there is a new 5.0 remix. The curse of most such remixes isavoided: no surround dialogue or otherwise inappropriate use of the rear speakers. This doesmean, however, that there is very little action from the rear speakers of any kind. Instead, youhave what sounds like a nice, rich basic stereo. What vocal distortion there is (which is minor) isforgivable in a film celebrating its 60th anniversary.
From the opening seconds, the colours leap out from the screen, strong enough to knock youreyes out through the back of your head. This is Technicolor at its most gloriously over the top.The image is wonderfully sharp, and the contrasts and blacks are to die for. There is a little grain,but the print is generally in fabulous shape. Occasionally, there is a little bit of colour bleedaround the edges. Still, factoring in age, this is a great transfer. The aspect ratio is, of course, theoriginal 1.33:1.
Disc 1, apart from the aforementioned Minnelli intro, has a music only track, 8 VincenteMinelli trailers (the one for Meet Me in St. Louis is for the 1955 re-issue), and acommentary track. Garland biographer John Fricke runs the show here, and provides anexcellent, in-depth look at the film, its making, its context, and the creative team behind it.Archival interviews with Margaret O’Brian and others flesh out the presentation. The menu’smain screen is animated and scored. So is the introduction, which goes on a bit longer than isnecessary.
Disc 2 (which has a scored menu) has two documentaries. “Meet Me in St. Louis: TheMaking of an American Classic” (30 mins) is a 1994 effort narrated by Roddy McDowall, andtouches on points elaborated on in the commentary. “Hollywood: The Dream Factory”(about anhour) is a loose profile of MGM, and is really more of an elegy for the studio system than an in-depth documentary (its last 15 minutes or so are unnarrated clips). “Becoming Attractions: JudyGarland” is a TCM program consisting of Garland trailers. There are also some vintagecuriosities: the pilot episode for the “Meet Me in St. Louis” sitcom (painful stuff); “Bubbles,” ashort musical feature from 1930 that features one of the earliest appearances by Garland; and“Skip to My Lou,” a 1941 short by the team that would work the same song into the feature. Inthe audio vault is “Boys and Girls Like You and Me” – a deleted song, here given an introductionand a photo montage – and the 1946 Lux Radio Theater adaptation of the movie, with theoriginal cast. Finally, there’s a still gallery.
A great musical, here given quite spiffy sound and picture. The extras, while not in the sameleague as those for Singin’ in the Rain are still an interesting collection.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Music Only Track
- Introduction by Liza Minnelli
- “Meet Me in St. Louis: The Making of an American Classic” Documentary
- “Hollywood: The Dream Factory” Documentary
- “Becoming Attractions: Judy Garland” Trailer Featurette
- Vincente Minnelli Trailer Gallery
- TV Pilot
- “Bubbles” Musical Short
- “Skip to My Lou” Musical Short
- Deleted Song
- Lux Radio Theater Adaption
- Still Gallery