Flash back musical time! I adore musicals. My mother must have had them on repeat most of my childhood. From the tame classics to Rocky Horror, nothing was off limits for musicals in our house. Let’s jump into one of my favorites, Meet Me In St. Louis.
Meet Me In St. Louis takes place at the turn of the century, when St. Louis is about to host the 1904 World’s Fair. The film itself stars Judy Garland, Margret O’Brien, Lucille Bremer, and more. It was directed by Vincent Minnelli, and this would be the movie that, while making it, Judy Garland would meet Minnelli and soon marry. It would also be the movie that would bring us such classic songs such as the “Trolley Song” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”
The story revolves around the Smith family, who leads a comfortable middle-class life. Mr. Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames) and Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor) have four daughters: Rose (Lucille Bremer), Esther (Judy Garland), Agnes (Joan Carroll), and Tootie (Margaret O’Brien), and a son, Lon Jr. (Henry H. Daniels, Jr.) Esther, the second eldest daughter, is in love with the boy next door, John Truett (Tom Drake), although he does not notice her at first. She therefore plots throughout the film to develop a relationship with him. The movie starts with Rose, the eldest, expecting a phone call in which she hopes to be proposed to by Warren Sheffield (Robert Sully).
Esther finally gets to meet John properly when he is a guest at the Smith’s house party, although her chances of romancing him don’t go according to plan when he tells her she uses the same perfume as his grandmother and that she has “a mighty strong grip for a girl”. Despite it not going well at first, the relationships grow and the characters become even more embedded in your heart. However, Mr. Smith announces to the family that he is to be sent to New York on business and eventually they will all move. The family is devastated and upset at the news of the move, especially Rose and Esther whose romances, friendships, and educational plans are threatened. Esther is also even more upset because they will miss the World’s Fair.
Soon an elegant ball takes place on Christmas Eve. Esther is devastated when John cannot take her as his date, due to his leaving his tuxedo at the tailor’s and being unable to get it back; he forgot to pick it up after basketball… yeah, I know, dumb excuse but moving on! She is relieved when her grandfather offers to take her instead. However she is overwhelmed when John turns up after somehow having managed to obtain a tuxedo, and the pair dance together for the rest of the evening. This is to be their last Christmas in St. Louis. Esther returns home to find an upset Tootie, and sings her “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Tootie becomes more upset at the prospect of the family’s move and runs downstairs, out into the cold to destroy the snowmen they have made.
At that moment Mr. Smith sees his daughter’s upsetting outburst, and has a change of mind. He later announces that the family will not leave St. Louis after all. Soon, John declares his love for Esther, and Warren declares his love for Rose and together they state that they will marry at the first possible opportunity. And all of the family finally are able to attend the World’s Fair. The film ends at night with the entire family overlooking the fresh new lake at the center of the World’s Fair just as the lights come up on the entire fair.
Cheesy sounding, I know, but this movie isn’t like most musicals. I say that because in all the ones I have watched, none have ever quite captured that amazing family dynamic that is brought out in these characters. There is singing and dancing, but it is not overdone. The dialogue is allowed to take place without being overwhelmed with the “musical” aspect of the film. Last but not least, any movie that brings us a classic Christmas song is worth every penny you paid for it on DVD. It is that moment when you start tearing up because that song catches you in the heart and doesn’t let go. Same for the “Trolley Song,” those words are burned in my heart as one of my favorite songs. I highly recommend this movie to any of you out there. You will not regret it. If you have seen it, take an hour or two and just sit back, rewatch, and relax. They don’t make movies like this anymore.