St. Louis 1903. The well-off Smith family has four beautiful daughters, including Esther and little Tootie. 17-year old Esther has fallen in love with the boy next door who has just moved in, John. He however, barely notic... more »es her at first. The family is shocked when Mr. Smith reveals that he has been transfered to a nice position in New York, which means that the family has to leave St. Louis and the St. Louis Fair.« less
"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"
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 07/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
A beautiful timeless movie loved by people of all ages.
Byron Kolln | 09/24/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Wonderful journey to a time long gone by
Simon Davis | 01/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""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."
A Technicolor Postcard From The St. Louis World's Fair
DC Glass | San Diego | 04/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."