Now we have one last Christmas movie before the holiday itself, the classic musical Meet Me In St. Louis, starring Judy Garland!
The story of the movie centers on the Smith family. Youngest daughters “Tootie” (Margaret O’Brien) and Agnes (Joan Carroll) are generally up to some mischief, especially on Halloween. Older daughters Esther (Judy Garland) and Rose (Lucille Bremer) are both eagerly looking forward to the upcoming St. Louis World’s Fair, while also trying to gain the attention of the men they are attracted to. Their father, Alonzo “Lon” Smith (Leon Ames), is offered a promotion with his law office that would require the family to move to New York, which he takes them up on, with plans to leave after Christmas.
The film’s origins come from a series of short stories written by Sally Benson. There were eight stories originally published in the New Yorker magazine from June 1941 through May 1942, all based on Sally Benson’s childhood memories of the Smith family’s adventures. They proved so popular that they were compiled into the book Meet Me In St. Louis with four new stories in 1942. MGM producer Arthur Freed liked them, and wanted to do a film musical based on them. Vincente Minelli was brought in to direct (after George Cukor had to turn it down when he was called in to serve in World War II). The film was planned all along for Judy Garland, even though she was reluctant to go back to doing a juvenile role after having finally done a few adult roles. It took a bit of work, but she finally came around, and the movie would become one of her best-known roles.
And this is just such a wonderful movie, fun to watch at Christmas or any other time of the year! The music is a mixture of old and new, with the new tunes provided by songwriters Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin. Judy obviously gets some of the film’s best songs, such as “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” “The Trolley Song” and “The Boy Next Door” (and the latter would be used again ten years later with altered lyrics to reflect a change in gender of the singer in the MGM musical Athena). But the rest of the cast is equally wonderful, with Marjorie Main a little dialed back (well, more than she usually seems to be) as the maid Katie, Lucille Bremer does well as older sister Rose in her film debut (before her career would go downhill very quickly with a few box office bombs), and Harry Davenport as the grandfather just feels like the grandfather you’d always want to have, he’s so wonderful! And I could easily get into more about the cast, but the story is so much fun! Yes, it is a bit episodic in nature, but it works, as it takes place over most of a year. It was already a period film at the time it was made, and boy, do some things seem different (especially like how they celebrated Halloween, which is so different now it’s not even funny)! This movie definitely rates high with me, and I have no trouble whatsoever in recommending it!
This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection.
So, to everybody, I hope you “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (and for those that don’t celebrate it, I wish you happy holidays)! I wish you all peace on earth, and goodwill to ALL!
Film Length: 1 hour, 53 minutes
My Rating: 10/10
*ranked #9 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2019
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List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
The Palm Beach Story (1942) – Mary Astor
Lucille Bremer – Ziegfeld Follies (1945)