December 17, 2015
Directed by Vincente Minnelli
113 min | 1944 | USA | Not Rated
Meet Me in St. Louis is a classic MGM romantic musical comedy that focuses on four sisters (one of whom is the nonpareil Judy Garland) on the cusp of the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The film spotlights the sisters’ education in the ways of the world, which includes, but isn’t limited to, learning about life and love, courtesy of the prototypical boy next door. In the end, love—accompanied by song, dance, and period costumes, all in glorious Technicolor—conquers all. This classic musical is not driven by plot, but more a series of three seasonal vignettes of family life: summer, autumn, and winter. The movie is a lovingly rendered still life of a family (and town) on the brink of great change.
Today’s filmmakers would do well to study Meet Me in St. Louis, which fills its central family’s life with music: they hum, they sing phrases of songs even when no production number is on the way, they play piano. Music feels as natural here as it’s ever felt in a movie. The space between musical performance and acting of the non-singing variety is blissfully blurred.
Upon it’s release, Bosely Crowther’s, 1944 New York Times review encapsulates this classic “holiday” film:
“Vincente Minnelli, in his direction, has got all the period charm out of ladies dressed in flowing creations, gentlemen in straw ‘boaters’ and ice-cream pants, rooms lush with golden-oak wains-coating, ormolu decorations and red-plush chairs. As a comparable screen companion to ‘Life With Father,’ we would confidently predict that Meet Me in St. Louis has a future that is equally bright. In the words of one of the gentlemen, it is a ginger-peachy show.”