ESSENTIAL

Meet Me In St. Louis joins my list (along with The Searchers and Rear Window) of Blu-ray editions that belong in every home — that are in themselves worth buying a Blu-ray player for.

Meet Me In St. Louis is one of the greatest of all Hollywood musicals, and one of the greatest of all movies. It grows deeper and more astonishing with each viewing. If this film doesn’t make you cry, you need to totally reexamine your life, your values, your sense of what the world is really all about.

Producer Arthur Freed was the driving force behind getting the film made at MGM.  Most of the other executives at the studio strongly opposed it — they didn’t think it was about anything, not understanding that the dysfunctional moments of a happy family is a subject of the most sublime profundity.

Louis B. Mayer intervened and told Freed to go ahead with the production, saying, “Either he’ll learn something or we’ll learn something.”  The result was the most profitable film in MGM’s history, beating out even Gone With the Wind, which MGM only owned part of.

Gene Kelley said it was his favorite musical, and Martin Scorsese lists it among the films that most influenced his visual style.  It’s an absolute miracle — especially on Blu-ray, where it’s possible to more fully appreciate director Vincente Minnelli’s elegant exploration of the house at the center of the film, and the choreography of the family members within it which reflects the shifting elements of the family dynamic.

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WHAT I’M SPINNING NOW

The lyrics Oscar Hammerstein II wrote for Richard Rodgers’s melodies were always clever and professional, though they sometimes verged on the treacly. Still, what an avalanche of beautiful music in their collaborations — we’ll never encounter anything like it again.  When the lyrics rise to the level of the music, as they often do, you get examples of musical theater at its very best.

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