mon 08/08/2022

12 Films of Christmas: Meet Me in St Louis | reviews, news & interviews

12 Films of Christmas: Meet Me in St Louis

12 Films of Christmas: Meet Me in St Louis

A Christmas classic from an innocent age positively glows with joy

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas: Judy Garland and Tom Drake enter into the festive spirit

Blessed with the finest (and most infuriatingly catchy) soundtrack of any Christmas film, Vincente Minnelli’s 1944 movie-musical Meet Me in St Louis is a festive classic of a simpler, happier time. Small girls roam the streets in safety getting up to all kinds of wholesome mischief, bigger girls sing songs around the piano and fall for the boy next door.

As a cinematic metaphor for the virtues of the small-town life it’s enough to make any commuter swap their season ticket for picket-fence.

“We don’t have to come here on a train or stay in a hotel, it’s right in our own home town, right here in St Louis!” When the eyes of the world are suddenly all on Missouri’s very own St Louis with the opening of the 1904 World’s Fair, life for the Smith family has never been so good. But when a job offer lures Mr Smith to New York the lives of his wife and five children are threatened with upheaval and they must celebrate their very last Christmas in their old home.

Judy Garland’s luminous Esther (shot in Technicolor of peculiar intensity) is at the heart of the story, crooning her love for "The Boy Next Door" and spinning the cheerful romantic fantasy of "The Trolley Song". But this is the film that first introduced the world to "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", and surely the ballad has never been sung better than here by Garland as a husky lullaby to Margaret O’Brien’s precocious Tootie. This is the film on which she met Minnelli for the first time, and you can see him falling in love in every shot.

Christmas ballrooms festooned with ivy, snowy proposal scenes and plenty of cake and good cheer – you’d have to go a long way to find a more reassuring, appealing portrait of the holiday season than Meet Me in St Louis. Who knows what dancing the “Hoochie-Koochie” involves, or what exactly you sign up to when you promise to be someone’s “Tootsie-Wootsie” – it’s all part of the exotic, old-fashioned charm of this classic film.

Follow @AlexaCoghlan on Twitter

Judy Garland sings "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"

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