The film serves up a delightful slice of Americana as it takes a nostalgic, romanticized look back at a well-to-do family living in St. Louis around 1903. Based on the memoirs of Sally Benson that first appeared in "The New Yorker" in the early 1940s, the movie centers around a picturesque Victorian mansion, MGMs version of the house where Benson lived as a girl at 5135 Kensington Avenue. That address is immortalized in the lyrics of the wistful song Judy Garland sings about "The Boy Next Door."
Ill admit that "Meet Me in St. Louis" is occasionally a little sappy, but for me, it mostly manages to pull back quickly. Actually, I think the film sometimes has a bit of an edge, as when Margaret OBriens character throws flour in the face of a mean neighbor on Halloween or when she angrily knocks the heads off the snow people at Christmas. But OBrien can also be irresistibly cute, as when she performs the music hall song "I Was Drunk Last Night, Dear Mother."
"Meet Me in St. Louis" doesnt have much of a plotits little more than a series of vignettesbut I dont find that particularly important. It seems to me the movie is really all about musical numbers, lavish sets, and sumptuous costumes combining to create a memorable atmosphere. Judy Garland was about 21 years old when the film was shot, and I think she is at her most luminous in it. But Garland doesnt have to carry the load alone because MGM was able to surround her with a truly impressive supporting cast that included Margaret OBrien, Mary Astor, Leon Ames, Marjorie Main, Harry Davenport, and June Lockhart.
Vincente Minnelli directed "Meet Me in St. Louis" and went on to direct other famous movies, including "Father of the Bride" (1950), "An American in Paris" (1951), "The Bad and the Beautiful" (1952), and "Gigi" (1958). It seems likely the director and his leading lady began falling for each other during the filming of "Meet Me in St. Louis," and in 1945, they got married. The daughter they had together, Liza Minnelli, gives a five-minute introduction to the movie on the DVD.
The two-disc DVD set comes with lots of bonus materials. The feature-length audio commentary track is mostly the voice of Garland biographer John Fricke, but we also hear remarks by actress Margaret OBrien, composer Hugh Martin, screenwriter Irving Brecher, and Barbara Freed-Saltzman (daughter of legendary MGM producer Arthur Freed). The DVD set also includes two documentaries, the first being a 30-minute making-of documentary for "Meet Me in St. Louis" hosted by Roddy McDowall, and the second being a 50-minute MGM Studio profile narrated by Dick Cavett. Another special feature on the DVD set is the 40-minute Turner Classic Movies Special "Becoming Attractions: Judy Garland." One of the most interesting extras is "Bubbles," a 1930 short film that briefly shows Judy Garlandthen about eight years old and known as Frances "Baby" Gummperforming with her two older sisters. Below Ive compiled a list of all the special features found on the "Meet Me in St. Louis" DVD set.
- MPAA Rating: Not Rated
- Feature Run Time: 1 Hour 53 Minutes
- Two-Disc Set
- Full-Screen (1.33:1)
- English 5.0 Dolby Digital
- English Monaural
- English Subtitles
- French Subtitles
- Spanish Subtitles
- Introduction by Liza Minnelli (5 min.)
- Audio Commentary by Judy Garland Biographer John Fricke
- Music-Only Audio Track
- Vincente Minnelli Trailers (8)
- Meet Me in St. Louis: The Making of an American Classic (30 min.)
- Hollywood: The Dream Factory (50 min.)
- Becoming Attractions: Judy Garland (40 min.)
- "Meet Me in St. Louis" (1966) TV Pilot (26 min.)
- Short Film "Bubbles" (1930) With Appearance by Judy Garland
- Short Film "Skip to My Lou" (1941) With Composers Singing
- Audio from Deleted Scene: Song "Boys and Girls Like You and Me"
- 1946 Lux Radio Theater Broadcast
- Stills Gallery