MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS

WARNER HOME VIDEO

Any curmudgeons foolhardy enough to dispute the oft-repeated claim that Judy Garland was the greatest female entertainer of the Twentieth Century will find nothing that substantiates their decidedly misguided opinions in Warner Home Video's current collection of five Garland MGM classics, all available on dvd for the first time, the most popular of which is unquestionably MEET ME IN ST.LOUIS, which gets the deluxe treatment a sumptuous visual treat of this caliber most assuredly deserves.              

The fact that, story-wise, nothing much happens in this lovingly nostalgic look at a closely-knit turn-of-the-century St. Louis family is beside the point, so lovingly created, spectacularly colored, good-humored, and melodically magnificent is this luminous family classic, which is produced with the utmost care and affection by Arthur Freed and directed with uncanny attention to visual detail by the great Vincente Minnelli, whose second film this was, and his first in Technicolor.

In fact, this film is so spectacular-looking that it would be entirely understandable if  even the most talented of principal players were overwhelmed by the sheer force of the Technicolored visual splendiferousness that permeates this film. Unless, of course, Judy Garland was the star.

Forget, if you can, Garland's unbeatable renditions of such great songs as The Trolley Song and The Boy Next Door. Ignore the fact, if you must, that Garland, lovingly photographed by soon-to-be husband Minnelli, has never looked as beautiful. The truth is, even subtracting the factors above, Garland's performance alone would be more than enough to supply the heart and soul that a visually opulent but thinly plotted film like this so desperately needs. And supply those essentials she does---in spades, as only the greatest of intuitive actresses could. Make no mistake about it, this is her show.

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS is the third Technicolor classic to be released utilizing the deservedly-praised Ultra-Resolution process that was responsible for the shimmering excellence of their previous special editions of SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, as well as what I believe to be the greatest Technicolor dvd restoration I've eve seen, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, and ST. LOUIS provides further proof, if anyone needed it, that the Ultra-Resolution process is easily the most significant development ever devised for the recreation of 3-strip Technicolor classics. The uniquely challenging cornucopia of colors that dominate ST. LOUIS are reproduced on this full-screen dvd with eye-popping confidence, and never has a transfer of a classic film, or indeed ANY film, looked this razor-sharp. (Too sharp, perhaps, for a film whose spirit is steeped in  soft, dreamy nostalgia? Just asking.) In a press release I received from Warners, Rob Hummel, Warner Bros. Studios Senior Vice President of Technical Operations states that  " 'Ultra-Resolution' continues to be improved each time out---". Hey, Mr. Hummel, haven't you heard? You can't improve on perfection!

P.S. If you own the three-disc special laserdisc edition of ST. LOUIS, hold onto it, as it features all the raw recording sessions in stereo: the above-referenced dvd does not include this feature. 

--DICK DINMAN 

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