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USA 1944
Directed by
Vincente Minnelli
113 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Meet Me In St Louis

Vincente Minnelli’s meticulously crafted chocolate box ode to small town America of yesteryear is for the most part a delight although it loses some of its appeal in its latter stages with Margaret O'Brien’s “Tootie”, a 5 year-old poppet over-exposed (she won a special Oscar for her performance) and the already sketchy romantic dalliances of the two older sisters, Rose (Lucille Bremer) and Esther (Judy Garland), getting schematic resolutions.

Based on the memoirs of Sally Benson the film tells the story of the Smiths, an upper-middle-class family with four daughters living in a large Edwardian home in the suburban part of St. Louis in the summer of 1903 and counting down to the 1904 World's Fair. 

The catchy title song, of course, gets a good airing although, rather surprisingly, it does not, as one might expect, appear as a grand finale. Judy Garland (then twenty-two but playing a seventeen year old and soon to marry the director) sings one of her best-known numbers, 'The Trolley Song', and also introduces the classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. Most of the musical numbers are included in the first half of the film which as a result there is a tendency to drag at least by today’s standards.  

Marjorie Main as the no-nonsense housekeeper, Harry Davenport as the genial grandad and Leon Ames as the grumpy but loveable dad all provide entertaining support in a film that is ideal for family Yuletide viewing.




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