Meet Me in St Louis
Dir. Vincente Minnelli
USA 1944 | Colour | 113 mins | Cert U | Musical
Cast: Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien
‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas…’ So sings Esther Smith (Judy Garland) to her sister Tootie as they ponder the prospect of the family leaving behind their loved ones in St Louis and relocating to New York.
It’s this imminent change that undermines the Smiths’ customary happiness over the four seasons leading up to the great Louisana Purchase Exposition of 1904 – a change too, perhaps, for the wider world as it nears the end of an era. Despite these dark undercurrents, however, Minnelli’s tender, witty musical rivals the start of Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons in expressing, elegantly and eloquently, a warm nostalgia for an easier, slower, gentler way of American life. The production design, Technicolor and songs – including ‘The Boy Next Door’, ‘Skip to My Lou’ and ‘The Trolley Song’ – all contribute to the affectionate mood, but it’s the performances and the deceptively light script which supply the emotional substance. As so often, the late, great Tom Milne was right in assessing it as ‘one of the great musicals’. Geoff Andrew
Available on: DCP, 35mm
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