A loving St. Louis family learns that they're moving to New York, and must decide what's truly important in their lives while they've still got time.
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Directed by Vincente Minnelli
Written by Irving Brecher and Fred F. Finklehoffe
Starring Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien, Mary Astor,
Lucille Bremer, Leon Ames, Tom Drake, Marjorie Main,
Harry Davenport, Joan Carroll, Henry H. Daniels Jr.
Based on the novel by Sally Benson
Oscar Wins - Juvenile Award (Margaret O'Brien)
Oscar Nominations - Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original
Score (George Stoll), Best Cinematography, Best Original Song
(The Trolley Song)
Meet Me in St. Louis is one of Judy Garland's most enduring musicals, thanks to her bubbly performance and unmatched charisma. Garland was a rare talent who was underappreciated in her time, and she brought a sense of love and strength to every film she did. I've stated before in my reviews and in the podcast that I'm not typically a fan of lily white 20th century musicals. But there's something about Meet Me in St. Louis that kept me engaged and held my interest. The songs are charming, the characters are likable, and the humor still works.
Garland is Esther Smith, a St. Louis girl from a big family. She's in love with her neighbor John Truett (Drake), but he can't tell. Esther's sister Tootie (O'Brien) gets in all sorts of mischief, including an extended Halloween scene that made no sense and was honestly a bit disturbing. Her other sisters, Rose (Bremer) and Agnes (Carroll), have their own things to worry about, but everything comes crashing down when their father (Ames) announces that they're moving to New York. Now, it's a race against time to get their affairs in order and find love before it's too late. Sure, it's all a bit melodramatic, but that's the way of the musical. I'm more surprised than anyone that I enjoyed it.
Meet Me in St. Louis has lasted this long because of Judy Garland's enduring onscreen presence and the supporting cast's fantastic job as well. Famous songs like "The Trolley Song," the title song, and the now traditional Christmas classic "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" have all become a significant part of 20th century pop culture. However, I don't think they would've if the movie had been lousy. The movie is funny and touching, and it stands out in Garland's vast filmography.