Friday, January 13, 2012

Meet Me in St. Louis (2011 digibook blu-ray edition)

Tyttö ja kosija / Vi mötas i St. Louis. US © 1944 Loew's Incorporated. P: Arthur Freed. D: Vincente Minnelli. SC: Irving Brecher, Fred F. Finklehoffe - based on the book by Sally Benson (1942) - based on her "5135 Kensington" vignettes in The New Yorker (1941-1942). DP: George J. Folsey - Technicolor. AD: Lemuel Ayers, Cedric Gibbons, Jack Martin Smith. Set dec: Edwin B. Willis. Cost: Irene [Sharaff]. Makeup: Jack Dawn. Makeup for Judy Garland: Dorothy Ponedel. Score adapted by Roger Edens, orchestrations by Conrad Salinger, conducted by Georgie Stoll. Songs: Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane – »The Trolley Song»; »The Boy Next Door»; »Over The Banisters»; »Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas». Other songs: »Meet Me In St. Louis» (Andrew B. Sterling, Kerry Mills); »You And I» (Arthur Freed, Nacio Herb Brown); the cakewalk »Under The Bamboo Tree» (Bob Cole, J. Rosamond Johnson). Folk song dance medley »Skip To My Lou» (trad. arr. Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane). Dance D: Charles Walters. ED: Albert Akst. Cast: Judy Garland (Esther Smith), Margaret O’Brien (Tootie Smith), Lucille Bremer (Rose Smith), Mary Astor (Mrs. Anna Smith), Leon Ames (Alonzo Smith), Tom Drake (John Truett), Harry Davenport (grandpa Potter). 113 min. Blu-ray released by Turner Entertainment / Warner Bros. 13 Dec 2011. 1030p High Definition 4x3 1,37:1 DTS-HD Master Audio English 5.0. With subtitles English, Français, Español. Viewed at home, Helsinki, 13 Jan 2012.

Special features from the 2004 special edition (information copied from DVD Verdict, by Judge Erich Asperschlager): "Introduction by Liza Minnelli" (4:59). - Audio Commentary: hosted by historian John Fricke, with archival interviews from Margaret O'Brien, screenwriter Irving Brecher, songwriter Hugh Martin, and Barbara Freed-Saltzman, Arthur Freed's daughter. - "The Making of Meet Me in St. Louis" (30:47): Hugh Martin recollecting the original, darker version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" that Garland refused to sing — with lyrics like "Have yourself a merry little Christmas / It may be your last / Next year we may all be living in the past." - "Hollywood: The Dream Factory" (50:31), narrated by Dick Cavett, focuses on the history of MGM and Hollywood's "Golden Age," including a profile of Louis B. Mayer. - "Becoming Attractions: Judy Garland" (46:10), a Turner Classic Movies TV special, hosted by Robert Osborne, is a collection of trailers from Garland's major movies: "Everybody Sing," "Love Finds Andy Hardy," "The Wizard of Oz," "Babes in Arms," "For Me and My Gal," "Presenting Lily Mars," "Meet Me in St. Louis," "The Clock," "The Pirate," "Easter Parade," "Summer Stock," "A Star is Born," and "I Could Go On Singing." - Meet Me in St. Louis 1966 TV Pilot (26:35). - "Bubbles" (7:54), the 1930 short is one of the earliest surviving records of Garland on film, as a singing-dancing member of The Vitaphone Kiddies. - "Skip to My Lou" (3:11), Martin and Blane's rearranged version of this pop standard goes back to the days when they were part of a singing group called The Martins, as seen in this 1941 "soundie." - The three remaining bonus features all fall under the category "Audio Vault": "Boys and Girls Like You and Me": Before it was cut from the film, this Rodgers & Hammerstein song appeared immediately after "The Trolley Song" sequence. Because footage of the scene no longer exists, it is presented here alongside a collection of rare photographs. - Lux Radio Theater Broadcast: this hour-long radio play version of Meet Me in St. Louis was broadcast on 12/2/1946, with Garland, O'Brien, and Drake reprising their roles, along with various other actors. - Music Only Track.

New 2011 special bonus features in the blu-ray set: a 40-page booklet, and a bonus CD sampler of four songs.

The music comments from English Wikipedia: "The musical score for the film was adapted by Roger Edens, who also served as an uncredited associate producer. Georgie Stoll conducted the orchestrations of Conrad Salinger. Some of the songs in the film are from around the time of the St Louis Exposition. Others were written for the movie.
* "Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis" Kerry Mills and Andrew B. Sterling, 1904
* "The Boy Next Door", Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, 1944, performed by Judy Garland.
* "Skip to My Lou", Traditional, with section sung to the tunes of "Yankee Doodle" arranged by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, 1944
* "I Was Drunk Last Night," performed by Margaret O'Brien.
* "Under the Bamboo Tree," Words and music by Robert Cole and The Johnson Bros., 1902, performed by Judy Garland and Margaret O'Brien.
* "Over the Banister," 19th-century melody adapted by Conrad Salinger, lyrics from the 1888 poem "Over the Banisters" by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, adapted by Roger Edens (1944), performed by Judy Garland.
* "The Trolley Song", Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, 1944, performed by Chorus and Judy Garland.
* "You and I," Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed, sung by Arthur Freed and D. Markas, mimed by Leon Ames and Mary Astor.
* "Goodbye, My Lady Love," (Instrumental), Joseph E. Howard, 1904.
* "Little Brown Jug", (Instrumental), Joseph Winner, 1869.
* "Down at the Old Bull and Bush," (Instrumental), Harry von Tilzer, 1903.
* "Home! Sweet Home!", (Instrumental), Henry Bishop, 1823/1852.
* "Auld Lang Syne", (Instrumental)
* "The First Noel", (Instrumental)
* "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, 1944, performed by Judy Garland. The lyrics for "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" were originally different. The lyricist, Hugh Martin, wrote lyrics which referred to the soldiers fighting during World War Two. Judy Garland thought the song as written was too mean to sing to Margaret O'Brien, so he changed the lyrics. Further revisions were made when Frank Sinatra objected to the generally downbeat tone of the piece. The latter revised version is the one most commonly performed.

Having read Dave Kehr's review in The New York Times and his blog entry on the movie in I ordered a copy of the blu-ray edition of Meet Me In St. Louis to the Filmihullu [Movie Crazy] dvd and blu-ray store. It did not arrive in time for Christmas but exactly a month after its U.S. release date. A suitable ending to my extended Christmas holiday related to my recovery. Four seasons in St. Louis in the life of a large family in 1903-1904 just before the St. Louis World's Fair. This is the movie where Judy Garland met Vincente Minnelli, the result being Liza Minnelli, who appears in the special dvd / blu-ray introduction. Judy Garland is wonderful, but the most astonishing performance is by Margaret O'Brien in one of the most original and most personal performances of a child actor. Unsentimental, profound, terrible, and funny. The 60th anniversary dvd of 2004 was reportedly already excellent, and the blu-ray does look brilliant. The Technicolor is wonderful, sometimes bordering on the excessive, and the family feeling gets sometimes too cute, but deep conflicts appear, and Minnelli shows his psychological sense in handling them. "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" may be the saddest mainstream Christmas song number in a movie. It's not always fair weather. The profound feeling of sorrow and longing seems to reflect the situation of the nation and the world at the time when the movie was made - even after the Judy Garland revisions. Families were broken, and husbands, brothers and sons were fighting abroad. But "next year all our troubles will be out of sight", "Someday soon we all will be together / if the fates allow. / Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow".

I can personally relate to this movie as a child of a large family which moved constantly during my childhood (from Helsinki to Vaasa, Lempäälä, Tampere, Helsinki again, and finally Pirkkala; and before Pirkkala we always moved to summer homes for the whole summer). The family meetings in Meet Me in St. Louis about the impending move from St. Louis to New York have some emotional truth in them. After Tootie destroys the snowpeople because they cannot take them with them to New York anyway the father decides the family will stay in St. Louis. So this is a movie about permanence. But in my childhood the only permanent thing was change.

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