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Blu-ray Review Meet Me in St. Louis Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Citizen87645

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Cameron Yee

The classic 1944 musical starring Judy Garland charms its way on to Blu-ray with an impeccable audio and video presentation and a great set of special features. Though the disappointing “My Fair Lady” and “West Side Story” Blu-ray releases dashed the hopes of many a film musical collector, Warner Brothers’ impressive efforts with “Meet Me in St. Louis” should restore some of that hope back.



Meet Me in St. Louis
Release Date: December 13, 2011
Studio: Warner Home Video
Packaging/Materials: Two-disc DigiBook
Year: 1944
Rating: NR
Running Time: 1:52:57
MSRP: $29.98

  THE FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURES
Video 1080p high definition 4x3 1.37:1 Standard definition
Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.0 / Dolby Digital: French 1.0, Spanish 1.0 Various
Subtitles English SDH, French, Spanish Various


Note: This review includes content from the HTF review of the 2004 DVD special edition.

The Feature: 4.5/5
In the year leading up to the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, the Smith family at 5135 Kensington Avenue will reach a number of milestones. The eldest child, Lon Jr. (Henry H. Daniels Jr.), will be off to Princeton College; his sister Rose (Lucille Bremer) will be graduating from high school (while also looking to get engaged to a longtime beau); and their younger sister Esther (Judy Garland) will be finding love for the first time, she hopes with the handsome new neighbor John Truett (Tom Drake). But their father, Alonzo Sr. (Leon Ames), has plans that will alter Rose and Esther’s hopes for the future, not to mention the wholesome Midwestern life the entire family - including Grandfather Prophater (Harry Davenport), mother Anna (Mary Astor), sisters Agnes (Joan Carroll) and Tootie (Margaret O’Brien), and faithful housekeeper Katie (Marjorie Main) - has come to know and love.

Adapted from a series of short stories by Sally Benson, director Vincente Minnelli’s “Meet Me in St. Louis” is a simple story at heart, but one with significant charm. To the cynical, the depiction of an idyllic Midwestern family whose biggest struggle amounts to choosing between a great life and an even better one, probably seems endlessly corny and unrealistic. But everyone needs a little taste of hope and romanticism, even if it is purely escapism. The film’s musical format also gives us two incomparable standards, sung by the magnificent Garland  - “The Trolley Song” and, one of my personal favorites for the holiday season, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” The other standout performer is the adorable O’Brien, who often comes close to stealing the show, in both singing and acting. The cast of supporting players is similarly strong, though it’s hard not to notice the utter blandness and even underdeveloped quality to Esther’s love interest. It’s the classic musical’s one shortcoming, though it ultimately isn’t enough to diminish the film’s enduring appeal.  

Video Quality: 4.5/5
The film is accurately framed at 1.37:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec. The transfer features a number of impressive qualities, not least of which is the color. 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 color shifts and blemishes, but nothing that isn’t understandable given the film’s age.

Audio Quality: 4/5
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. LFE is of course non-existent, but the track shows consistent depth and fullness throughout the film’s runtime.

Special Features: 4.5/5
Most of the extras from the 2004 two-disc special edition DVD have been carried over, with the exception of the film stills gallery and the collection of Vincente Minnelli movie trailers (though their absence is made up for by the collectible book and soundtrack sampler CD). As before, the special features prove to be wide-ranging and detailed, providing plentiful information about the production and the history of MGM Studios.

Content evaluation of disc-based items by former HTF reviewer, Herb Kane.

Introduction By Liza Minnelli (4:59, SD): Offers up some interesting tidbits about the film relating several stories from her mother and father (Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli), including Louis B. Mayer’s skepticism after hearing the initial storyline. Nice to have Liza do the introduction in light of it being her mother’s favorite film.

Commentary By John Fricke, With Margaret O’Brien, Irving Brecher, Hugh Martin, Barbara Freed-Saltzman: This is basically narrated by Garland biographer John Fricke, with additional recorded clips from the other participants. Although he sounds a little stiff, Fricke possesses a great deal of knowledge pertaining to Garland and MGM and does an admirable job at keeping this predominantly academic history lesson interesting.

Meet Me In St. Louis: The Making of an American Classic (30:47, SD): 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. A solid feature.

Hollywood: The Dream Factory (50:31, SD): Narrated by Dick Cavett, this is a great documentary on the MGM studio. It starts with a bio on Louis B. Mayer and the history of the original “Ben Hur,” which leads to the studio’s “do it big, do it right” motto. It features many of the studios “assets” as well as the great films the studio produced through the golden age of film. Although it’s not specifically related to the film, its relevance and inclusion is appropriate. I’d never seen this before and it is my favorite feature on the disc. For fans of classics, this shouldn’t be missed.

Becoming Attractions: Judy Garland (46:10, SD): Hosted by film historian Robert Osbourne, this is a quasi-biography on Judy Garland, told through many of her MGM film trailers.

Meet Me In St. Louis TV Pilot (26:31, SD): The episode for the short-lived, 1966 TV show comes complete with laugh track.

Bubbles (7:54, SD): A Vitaphone short from 1930 thought to be some of the earliest footage of Judy Garland captured on film.

Skip To My Lou (3:11, SD): A rare 1941 “soundie” features future “Meet Me In St. Louis” songwriting 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.

Boys and Girls Like You and Me (3:37, SD): A musical number excised from the final cut of the movie.

12/2/1946 Lux Radio Theater Broadcast (57:12, DD2.0 at 192 kbps): Radio theater adaptation of the film includes Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien and Tom Drake reprising their roles.

Music Only Track: Fans of movie music scoring will be pleased with this feature. Presented in Dolby Digital 5.0 at 640 kbps.

Theatrical Trailer (1:42, SD)

Soundtrack Sampler: The CD includes four tracks - “Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis,” “The Boy Next Door,” “The Trolley Song,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

Collectible Book: Integrated into the packaging, the book includes production stills, cast and crew biographies, song lyrics, trivia and an essay about the film.

Recap
The Feature: 4.5/5
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 4.5/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4.5/5

Warner Home Video delivers a stellar presentation for “Meet Me in St. Louis,” a great MGM musical that charms with its unabashed idealism. With the extras carrying over the majority of extras from the 2004 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. For first-time purchasers, it also qualifies as a “must buy.”

 

Robin9

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OK. I'm buying this. A work colleague has an eight-year old grand daughter who loves musicals and is fascinated by the dancing of stars like Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth. Whenever I upgrade a musical, I give the DVD to my colleague for him to hand over to this young girl with such splendid taste. My DVD of Meet Me in St. Louis will be hers.
 

Why did they not include the mono track? The original track should always be provided as an option.
 

bigshot

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Stephen
I normally prefer the original mono mix on classic movies, but in this one I didn't really miss it. There is almost no rear channel info and the splits between the three front speakers is minimal. The sound is excellent.
 

MatthewA

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Originally Posted by Robin9

OK. I'm buying this.
A work colleague has an eight-year old grand daughter who loves musicals and is fascinated by the dancing of stars like Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth. Whenever I upgrade a musical, I give the DVD to my colleague for him to hand over to this young girl with such splendid taste. My DVD of Meet Me in St. Louis will be hers.


He's lucky to have such a smart granddaughter. I've got a 15-year-old cousin who loves musicals and counts Singin' in the Rain among her favorite films; I may give the DVD to my sister, who has some of my hand-me-down DVDs.
 

Frank Ha

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Thanks for the review Cameron. A definite upgrade. I'll pick this up next time I am in the States. Meanwhile, I'll enjoy watching the DVD this Christmas.
 

Ethan Riley

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It's out today, but kinda pricey. The cheapest seems to be WalMart at $24+. Target has it for $28+. Amazon is holding steady at $25.99. Is there any hope the dang thing will be at a reasonable price point before Christmas? Somewhere? Somehow--
 

KODACHROME64

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OLIVIER COMTE
Is it an ABC regions, or only region A release? Even such a well known movie is still unreleased in Europe in BR. The US DVD was quite good
 

adklz

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This is one of my favorite films and the reviews of this blu-ray have me yearning to see it, but money is tight, the disc is expensive, and I've already bought this film several times in previous formats. Still, if I found it for under $20., in a store, I would probably pick it up. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell it is not being carried in any stores, at least not in the Boston area. Best Buy, Target and B&N only have it available on-line and the last time I checked Newbury Comics wasn't carrying it either. We keep hearing about the lack of sales for catalog titles and there are certainly many reasons for that, but I can't help wondering how anyone can expect these titles to sell if they're not available in stores.
 

nealg

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Jim, with B&N's 40% off Blu-ray sale (ends Saturday), you can get it at BN.com for less than $20 using a 20% off coupon code (free shipping for members), or buy it in-store using the 25% off in-store printable coupon. I bought mine in-store this way, so call your store(s) to check stock. The sale and these coupons are only good through Saturday.
 

David_B_K

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Thanks to all who posted coupon codes. I ordered it from B & N and applied the 20% code. I had also been given a $15 B & N gift card for Xmas; so I was only out less than $4 right at a time where I've spent to much for Xmas!
 

Rick Thompson

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Excellent Blu-ray that's a pleasure to watch, but I can do without the digital book. Were there some content to it, that'd be one thing, but what's in this book would fit on an inset card. It's a waste, and gives less protection to the disk.
 

Charles Smith

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Sad to hear that. I don't have this one yet. I love digibooks ... in theory. When they're nothing more than a few pretty pictures, they're a total waste.
 

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