6 Dec 2008

Movie Magic: Meet Me In Saint Louis

Over on The Film Experience (a website where I spend a little bit too much time, more on that another day) this Saturday Dec. 6th is Musical Of The Month day. :p And so I'm dipping my toe into the world of communal blogging (hmmm... dunno if that's the proper term) to talk about one of my all-time favourite films, Vicente Minelli's musical masterpiece Meet Me In Saint Louis starring the superbe Judy Garland! :o)

The fact that Judy Garland is in it is pretty much enough to explain a more than simple liking of this film. Her presence tends to light up the screen, her voice can give you shivers down your back. That was all it took for me to buy a dvd of a movie I'd never heard of (something I almost never do) and sit down asap to watch. That was several years ago; can't even remember when. The movie got into me in such a way that I can't believe I didn't know about it before! I can only say thanks for the studios finally releasing their hidden gems onto dvd for those of us who weren't around back in the day to discover them now!

For those who don't know anything about this film (I recommend Nathaniel's post at The Film Experience, or the very detailed -if bland- Wikipedia entry), it's about a family living in Saint Louis, Missouri at the turn of the century (1903), shortly before the Word's Fair was held there. It's a very simple and sweet tale. Partly autobiographical, it's a portrait of 4 sisters (the poor brother doesn't get much screen time) and basically lets us catch glimpses of their lives centered around their family and friends (once per season: a summer party, Halloween, Christmas and spring). Domestic bliss is marred when the father (a lawyer) announces his firm is shipping them off to New York just after Christmas and they all realise they will have to leave behind the only world they've ever known. To make matters worse they'll miss the World Fair! But as this plays out partly like a fairy tale you know ends well.

Main source of appeal (for me) of this film: Judy Garland.
She fits into Esther's skin like it was a glove, bringing to the surface the right combination of spunk and tenderness. In a documentary accompanying the dvd, Liza Minelli comments on how her father was very taken with Judy and how you can tell by the way he lovingly frames her in doorways, window casings etc. The soft colours and lighting also elevate her beauty, and the costumes are simply gorgeous!
A role bridging her career playing "young" and "innocent" to more adult roles soon after.

Another bundle of joy: child star Margaret O'Brien.
She's got so much energy you can sometimes feel the screen sizzling! Her character Tootie (a.k.a. the book's author) is a mischievous little devil brought to life in a very endearing way. Her chemistry with Judy (as well as the other actors) is obvious in every scene they share, particularly in some of the musical sequences.

The Musical Numbers. :o)
I'm a big fan of Musicals. Always have been. But even I
sometimes get tired of musicals when they just break into song and dance for no apparent reason. Or when numbers exist solely to showcase the star's talent (ego trips, i.e. Gene Kelley's dream sequence in most of his movies). I think this is one of first musicals I saw where the songs just fit seamlessly into the general film. Where the songs tell a part of the story. Songs I want to sing all day long.

And any film that includes one of my favourite Judy Garland numbers HAS to be wonderful! ;o)

Or one of my favourite Christmas Carols:

Ok, I think I've rambled on long enough. Hope it peaked your interest though! As for me... I think I might go put a dvd in the machine, it's been a while since I've seen it!


  1. I got the movie the same way you did, I bought it one day without ever having seen it before.
    It obviously was one of my best buys ever!
    Nice post!

  2. Nice summary! I just watched it on tv, so I definitely have check out the dvd, since you and Jose have both mentioned the interviews. And I agree, the songs do fit very seamlessly. I love the way the musical numbers are filmed.


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