Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien, Mary Astor, Lucille Bremer,
Meet Me in St. Louis is a movie starring Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien, and Mary Astor. In the year leading up to the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, the four Smith daughters learn lessons of life and love, even as they prepare for a...
  • 7.6 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Irving Brecher, Fred F. Finklehoffe, Sally Benson, Victor Heerman, William Ludwig, Writer:
  • Vincente Minnelli, Director:
  • Producer:

Trailer:

10 / 10

A Feel Good Movie if Ever There Was One

This movie is sheer delight from start to finish. I'm sure St. Louis in 1904 wasn't really the same as its depicted here...but it should have been! Only the most jaded cynic imaginable could not be charmed by this film.

The songs are perfect, the cinematography, the set direction, costumes, everything really - MGM movie magic at its best! Vincente Minelli did a superlative job of direction, and the cast simply could not be bettered. Judy Garland gives what I feel is the most relaxed and charming performance of her career, and sings like an angel, not like the jittery bundle of nerves she would become in later life. Tom Drake is very winning as the "Boy Next Door" we should all be so lucky to have. But Margaret O'Brien absolutely steals the picture as the adorable but irrepressibly morbid Tootie, a refreshing change from the normally saccharine moppets of Hollywood's golden years. Marjorie Main also swipes a scene or two as the mouthy cook, and Mary Astor and Leon Ames give sterling support as the parents. Their "make-up" scene at the piano is beautifully done.

What a wonderful antidote this movie is when you need to retreat from the harsh world and have your spirits lifted for a while.

9 / 10

Judy Garland never looked better

This is such a sweet, wonderful movie - a slice of 1900's America that probably was never so perfect, but we would like to think that it was. The storyline is not a love story between Esther (Garland) and "The Boy Next Door" (one of the three timeless classic songs found in this movie). The storyline is really about the whole Smith family, based on an actual family who lived in St. Louis at the turn of the century. The real-life "Tootie" Smith (played by Margaret O'Brien) wrote stories of her life for the NewYorker. These stories were bought and compiled into this classic musical.

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" originated here, and has become a classic yuletide song. It has been sung a thousand times by a thousand artists, but no one could ever capture the heartfelt emotion expressed by Judy Garland. If it doesn't bring a tear to your eye as you listen to her sing the song to little Tootie, I would have to wonder if you have a heart at all.

The most fun song is "The Trolley Song" - you can even see that Judy herself had a ball singing it. That scene was done in one take.

Judy Garland never looked better in any of her films as she did in this one. Perhaps it was one of the happiest times in her life? It is well-known that she married director Vincent Minelli after this picture.

Beautifully directed, depicting with accuracy the passing of the seasons of one year in the life of the Smiths of St. Louis. What a fun, charming, movie. I could never tire of it.

7 / 10

Minnelli Directs Garland In MGM Classic

"The day was bright, The air was sweet, The smell of honeysuckle almost knocked you off your feet ..." This is unashamed nostalgia for an idealised America, dating back to an age of innocence before the two World Wars.

It is 1903, and the city of St. Louis is ablaze with excitement as it prepares to host the World's Fair. Here in the geographic heart of the USA, the very pleasant Smith family lives in a very pleasant suburb of the very pleasant St. Louis. We watch the Smiths through the seasons and into Spring 1904 as they fall in love, dress up for Hallowe'en, bottle their home-made ketchup and .... well, ride the trolley.

This is a world of tranquillity where nothing can threaten the homely complacency of Middle America. The evening meal is always a wholesome family gathering, the month of July is always sunny, big brothers are always handsome Princeton freshmen and the iceman's mare knows the neighbourhood so well that she stops at each home on her round without needing to be told. The only shadow which falls across the Smiths' domestic bliss comes when Alonzo, the paterfamilias, proposes to move the household to New York. However, Alonzo soon realises what a terrible mistake it would be to tear his wife and daughters away from their beloved MidWest: he relents, and family harmony is restored.

This heartwarming, exuberant musical is one of the very best ever made, and MGM knew exactly what it was doing in terms of box office success. The film was calculated to cash in on the zeitgeist of 1944, the year in which vast American armies were sent across to Europe and the war in the Pacific turned decisively in America's favour. Millions of young American men found themselves far from home in what was certain to be the last Christmas of the War, and millions of families back home missed them terribly: " Some day soon we all will be together, If the fates allow. Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow ..."

In this idealised America, everyone is prosperous, everyone conducts himself like a good citizen should, old folks are cheerful, healthy and alert, domestic servants feign grumpiness but actually adore their masters, and teenage girls are flirtatious but impeccably proper. There are strong American folk-resonances in the homespun wisdom of the family elders, the strong, straight young adults and the 'down home' hearthside gatherings and dances. It could be argued that the film invokes an America that has never in fact existed. This maybe so, but the Perfect America which we experience here exerts an emotional pull far stronger than any real place could command.

Vincente Minnelli directed the movie with panache. There are many subtle but sure touches - for example, two short scenes which establish the proposition that the family's happiness is inextricably linked to St. Louis. Alonzo announces the move to New York, and with clever choreography Minnelli turns him into a pariah in his own living-room. Esther and Tootie gaze at the snowmen which they will have to abandon in the yard, and we know without any dialogue to help us that the eastward migration isn't going to happen. With similar cinematic economy, Minnelli shows us the happy commotion around the Christmas tree without allowing it to distract our attention from Alonzo and Anna, whose wordless reconciliation sets the seal on the plot. This is directing of rare skill.

In films of the 1960's and 70's a stock device was used: a sepia-tinted photograph would 'come to life' with colour and motion, to show that the scene was laid in the past. Minnelli employs the trick elegantly in this film, and I am not aware of any example which pre-dates this one.

This is a 'formula' movie, but its ingredients are so fine and they are combined with such marvellous skill that the whole eclipses the parts. Among the elements which contribute to the project's success are the songs - and the film contains three classics: "The Trolley Song", "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and (of course) "Meet Me In St. Louis".

Judy Garland was 22 years old when she made this film (though she easily passes for a 17-year-old) and it was this movie which cemented her relationship with Minnelli. They married one year later and Liza was born in March 1946.

Predictably enough, the film has a happy ending. The teenage girls Esther and Rose are paired off, and the Smiths get to visit the World's Fair as one big happy family. As they look for the restaurant (once again, a meal signifies domestic harmony) they are distracted by the lighting-up of the city, a filmic metaphor for the approaching end of World War Two. The sisters are filled with awe at America's technological ascendancy, and that such miracles can be achieved by such folksy, simple people - "Right here where we live: right here in St. Louis!"

7 / 10

No Exactly a Christmas Movie

BEWARE OF FALSE REVIEWS & REVIEWERS. SOME REVIEWERS HAVE ONLY ONE REVIEW TO THEIR NAME. NOW WHEN ITS A POSITIVE REVIEW THAT TELLS ME THEY WERE INVOLVED WITH THE MOVIE. IF ITS A NEGATIVE REVIEW THEN THEY MIGHT HAVE A GRUDGE AGAINST THE FILM . NOW I HAVE REVIEWED OVER 300 HOLIDAY FILMS & SPECIALS. I HAVE NO AGENDA

The backdrop for Meet Me in St. Louis is St. Louis, Missouri in the year leading up to the 1904 World's Fair.

It is summer 1903. The Smith family leads a comfortable upper-middle class life. Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames) and his wife Anna (Mary Astor) have four daughters: Rose (Lucille Bremer), Esther (Judy Garland), Agnes (Joan Carroll), and Tootie (Margaret O'Brien); and a son, Lon Jr. (Henry H. Daniels, Jr.). Esther, the second eldest daughter, is in love with the boy next door, John Truett (Tom Drake), although he does not notice her at first. Rose is expecting a phone call in which she hopes to be proposed to by Warren Sheffield (Robert Sully).

Esther finally gets to meet John properly when he is a guest at the Smiths' house party, although her chances of romancing him don't go to plan when, after all the guests are gone and he is helping her turn off the gas lamps throughout the house, he tells her she uses the same perfume as his grandmother and that she has "a mighty strong grip for a girl".

Esther hopes to meet John again the following Friday on a trolley ride from the city to the construction site of the World Fair. Esther is sad when the trolley sets off without any sign of him, but cheers up when she sees him running to catch the trolley mid journey.

Even though the there is barely a story-line the film works. IT gets a tad slow here and there but Margret O'Brien steels every scene she is in. Judy Garland however is always a delight to watch. If you like her in this then make sure to see "In the Good Old Summertime".

This film was beautifully filmed. If you can watch it on a Blu-ray.

10 / 10

The Happiness of Not Moving--At Least for Now

One of the greatest movie musicals, and thus one of the greatest American movies, "Meet Me in St. Louis" tells a story that may appear insultingly inconsequential: a happy family living in turn-of-the-century St. Louis considers moving to New York, but decides against it. Yet Vincente Minelli, working with a wonderful cast and unusually intelligent songs, takes this story and makes it the one really convincing screen refutation of Tolstoy's claim that all happy families are alike, and indeed perhaps the only fully rounded and persuasive representation of a happy family in the history of movies. From the small family conflict over the quality of homemade ketchup that begins the movie, to the agony over moving at the end, the Smiths are a collection of distinctive, vibrant and at times almost incompatible characters bound together not only by love but by a contagious, and very particular, sense of fun.

Minelli's genius for musical numbers in interior spaces--most notably the great party in the Smith home near the beginning of the movie--is complemented here by two unforgettable outdoor sequences, Judy Garland's matchless "Trolley Song" and Tootie's Halloween adventure in the neighborhood, where she shows such vulnerability, such courage,and in the end such diabolical lack of conscience that no one can fail to love her. These outdoor scenes protect "Meet in St. Louis" from the claustrophobia that so frequently limits the power of "family" dramas.

Tootie, at five, is the youngest of the five Smith children, and as played by the great child actor Margaret O'Brien, she is also the center of most of the fun. Her relationship with her older sister Esther (Judy Garland) is captivating in its joy, complexity, and ultimately in its sadness. For even though the catastrophe (!) of moving to New York is narrowly avoided, Esther will still leave home for life with the boy next door, and the powerful unity of these lucky people will ultimately give way to other claims of new love, new suffering and new duty. The happiness the Smiths knew while living together will only increase the pain of each parting. We're blessed, though, to have glimpsed their particular brand of happiness at its glorious peak.