[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B008PEHX8A][/pullquote] Meet Me in St Louis (1944) was the film that almost didn’t happen (Judy Garland was reluctant to take the role of Esther Smith because she didn’t want to play anymore childish characters and because she thought Margaret O’Brien would steal the film) but almost seventy years later, it’s still on our screens. The film follows the Smith family who lead a comfortably middle class life in turn of the century St Louis, Missouri in the run up to and during the 1904 World’s Fair.
Much like Little Women, each of the Smith sisters has their own thing going on; sensible Rose (Lucille Bremer) is waiting for her gentleman love to propose, while voracious Esther (Judy Garland) tries to win over John Truitt the dreamy boy next door and Agnes (Joan Caroll) and Tootie (O’Brien) the younger siblings cause havoc in the neighbourhood by getting themselves into various scrapes. They moan and cry and ˜make a great fussin’ about their childish and adolescent worries, but when their banker father (Leon Ames) announces the family is to move away from their beloved St Louis and re-locate to New York, suddenly it puts everything into perspective. It all comes together when tougher-than-nails-six year old Tootie finally breaks down over the family’s impending move and Esther sings ˜Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ to her in the nostalgic glow of the Christmas tree, and Mr Smith finally has a change of heart.
A film that is still on every TV Christmas schedule seventy years later is a film that has its heart in the right place. Having said that, if you don’t like films which are described as ˜having its heart in the right place’ and frequently burst into music-hall song, then this probably isn’t the movie for you.
Director Vincent Minelli (Liza’s father) uses technicolour to its upmost (the songs, sets and dresses are all larger than life) and happily for Garland and O’Brien, together they steal the show.