Thursday, January 11, 2018

#619: Meet Me in St. Louis

1944, TSPDT Rank #213

I've never been a fan of Vincente Minelli, Judy Garland, or musicals in general, so Meet Me in St. Louis was never high on my watch list. However, I finally watched it today and was pleasantly surprised. It's an early example of what we know as the classic Hollywood musical, something that it pulls off with great warmth and feel-good charm in its portrait of a St. Louis family in the year before the 1904 World's Fair. There is really no more of a story than that - Meet Me in St. Louis is unique in its essentially plotless nature, instead using a loose series of vignettes based upon the seasons to convey the Smith family's connection to their hometown and each other. The film also incorporates an extraordinary degree of period detail in its costumes and sets, which are all tailor-made for Technicolor, creating a perfect vision of a more innocent time in American history. Furthermore, Judy Garland is effortlessly radiant here, possibly even more at her peak than she was in The Wizard of Oz.

If you're resistant to musicals like I am, or have just never gotten around to seeing this classic film, I recommend putting aside your reservations and giving Meet Me in St. Louis a try. It sits comfortably alongside films like Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz as a prime example of Technicolor's eye-popping potential, and its brilliant ensemble cast (including Lucille Bremer, Mary Astor, Margaret O'Brian, Marjorie Main and Henry Davenport) and endearing script make it much more than a Judy Garland feature.

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