Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)
Is it St. Loui-ee or St. Loui-s?
The movie makes it a point to answer the question from the beginning, though it is hard to say St. Loui-s (which they teach us is the correct pronunciation, by the way) when the s is silent in the song (“Meet me in St. Louiee, Louiee, meet me at the fair!”).
Judy Garland is the star of this film, and boy, she really shines! She’s rocking some really weird bangs, but for me this is where she’s prettiest. And she agrees, because apparently she loved her look so much that she hired the makeup artist from the movie for all her succeeding roles. Of course, it didn’t hurt that she was dating the director too. The lighting for her was just heavenly. As for the bangs, we learned from
Wikipedia our extensive fact-checking that they wanted to reshape her hairline for some reason.
There really isn’t much of a plot to the film. It’s a year in the life of the Smith family who are living in St. Louis at the time of the World’s Fair. Everyone’s excited about the fair until Mr. Smith (played by Leon Ames, who’s one of my favorite actors to play the dad roles in classic movies) announces that he’s moving everyone to New York because of a promotion. Of course they’re all crushed that they’ll miss the fair and leave everyone behind. This leads us to the scene with Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Christmas” to Margaret O’Brien.
This is another one of those films that wasn’t originally released as a holiday movie, but that song is enough to make it one. Also, Judy’s dress in that scene reminds me of a Christmas angel my aunt gave us many years ago, because she was also wearing a red velvet dress.
My favorite scene is of course, “The Trolley Song”. I swear I look like a demented clown every time I watch that, because I always have a big goofy grin on my face.
The story doesn’t require you to think while watching it, but you cannot take your eyes off the film. The cinematography is a feast for the eyes, and the clothes are period eye candy. I would love to live in the Smith house with its big rooms and kitchen. There are also title cards signifying each of the four seasons, and they look like those vintage calendars or tin cans come to life. And the house in winter, with all the snow and children sledding down the yard, looks like something out of a postcard. The Halloween scene is a bit too long for me, but then I can just imagine the smells coming out of that huge kitchen and I can forgive it. And even with Mr. Smith’s surprise announcement, everything still ends well for the family.
A heartwarming happy ending, gorgeous clothes and parasols that make the women look like Gibson girls, a storybook-perfect house, and the most perfect sad Christmas song – what’s not to love?