‘Meet Me in St Louis’ comes to the Fair on American Region free Blu-ray with a beautiful 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer, framed in the 1.37:1 aspect ratio. The restored three strip Technicolor picture exudes old Hollywood warmth with its rosy skin tones, saturated reds and lush greens. The shadows have a velvety quality about them that sets off the dresses worn by Ms Garland and makes their colours more vibrant. People used to say of old Technicolor that ‘the colours just leap off the screen at you’ and it’s very true of this transfer. The image is sharp and detail is magnificent. Just check out the wall paper patterns, the weave of the carpet and the stitching in dresses. There’s very fine grain throughout, as you’d expect from the origination format but it doesn’t offend the eye. The lighting of some of the interiors, particularly close-ups is the work of a real cinematographer and the transfer does it full justice. It’s almost like having your own brand new 35mm IB Technicolor print, without the noise and heat of a Gaumont Kalee projector in your lounge. It looks great whether shown on a 50 inch Plasma panel or projected on a 7 foot screen.
The audio on ‘Meet Me in St Louis’ comes in a DTS-HD MA 5.0 surround track, which purists would normally claim to be akin to sacrilege as it was originally released with an optical mono sound track. The new mix doesn’t try to capitalise on the surround effect, but merely uses the extra depth to add richness to the sound. The opening Hollywood choir still seems distant over the main titles, but Judy Garland’s voice sounds much fuller during her musical numbers in the movie. If you strain your ears with the wick wound up, you can just hear a faint hiss in the background but the clean up is very good as most snap, crackle and pop has been removed.
Dialogue is locked to front centre and is intelligible at all times. Just don’t go expecting much to come from the surround speakers. In its way, the mix has tried not to be disrespectful to the original intention but to augment it. It’s the first time I’ve almost been persuaded that converting a vintage mono track to surround is a good idea.
‘Meet Me in St Louis’ comes to us on American Region free Blu-ray in a nicely bound Digibook with 40 pages of features on the songs, the stars and the director of the movie. It contains 2 discs – the Blu-ray itself and a CD soundtrack sampler featuring four of the songs.
Introduction by Liza Minnelli (SD, 5 mins ) - Liza with a ‘zee’ introduces the picture during which her Mum & Dad met and fell in love. She does so with great affection and shares some warm memories with us.
Audio Commentary - Judy Garland’s biographer and historian John Fricke enthusiastically introduces some archival recordings of actress Margaret O'Brien, screenwriter Irving Brecher, composer Hugh Martin, Barbara Freed-Saltzman (daughter of producer Arthur Freed) and actress June Lockhart (the 'Mom' in TV’s ‘Lost in Space’), who recall fond memories of the production. It’s great to hear their reminiscences. John Fricke is a tireless font of knowledge on all things Garland and keeps this fascinating comm. track moving.
‘Meet Me in St Louis’: The Making of an American Classic (SD, 31 mins) - This lightweight documentary first appeared on the 50th Anniversary DVD release, but it’s good to have it here. Narrated by Roddy McDowell, we have input from most of the same names as in the Audio Commentary. We hear of Garland’s initial problems with being cast as another teenager, her blossoming love for Minnelli during production, the script development as well as the score.
Hollywood- the Dream Factory (SD, 50 mins) - Fans of Tinsel town will love this chunky 1972 documentary about the dream factory, with its main focus on MGM. It looks at the stars, the movie moguls, the glamour – and paints an insightful picture that also entertains.
Becoming Attractions: Judy Garland (SD, 46 mins) - This 1996 TCM Special uses 13 trailers from Garland’s movies to chart her career as she moves from awkward teen to troubled adult star. Judy fans will love it.
TV Pilot: ‘Meet Me in St Louis’ (SD, 26 mins) - This oddity of a pilot for a 1966 TV series based on the movie comes complete with canned laughter and it’s a pale imitation of the original. Thankfully a series was never commissioned, but it’s interesting to see it all the same.
Bubbles (SD, 8 mins) - This real gem of a Vitaphone short from 1930 shows Judy and her sisters (The Gumm Sisters) performing together. The sparkle is there in her eyes, but the performance needs some work. A joy to watch.
Skip to my Lou (SD, 3 mins) - Song writers Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane perform the popular number in much the same way as it appeared in ‘St Louis’ in this 1941 short.
Audio Vault - This area contains the ‘Music only’ track from the film, a deleted song ‘Boys and Girls Like You’ as well as the Lux Theatre radio broad cast of ‘Meet Me in St Louis’ from 1946, where the most of the movie cast reprised their roles for this 57 minute wireless production.
Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2 mins) - They don’t make trailers like this any more.
CD Sampler Disc - This audio CD includes the songs ‘Meet Me in St Louis, Louis’, ‘The Boy Next Door’, ‘The Trolley Song’ and ‘Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ sung by Ms Garland. Very charming it is too.
That all time MGM movie musical classic ‘Meet Me in St Louis’ comes to American Region free Blu-ray with a beautifully restored 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer, framed in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio.
The transfer of three strip Technicolor gives us rosy skin tones, velvety backs, bright reds and fine detail. It's just lovely to look at.
The audio comes interestingly in a DTS-HD MA 5.0 mix which doesn’t ruin what was originally a mono mix, but it adds depth and range to the musical numbers.
Many of the bonus materials, including a great commentary, have come from the previous DVD release and it’s good to see them here.
The film tells the story of the Smith family who are told they need to move to New York, away from their beloved St Louis at the time of the 1904 World’s Fair. Great musical numbers and Judy Garland too with a superb supporting cast.
One for the collections of Movie Musical fans and admirers of Ms Garland.
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