Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, Lucille Bremer, Marjorie Main, Joan Carroll
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Release Date: January 1945
Length: 113 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 4/5 stars
“Judy Garland stars as Esther Smith, who just can’t ignore the boy next door (Tom Drake), in director Vincente Minnelli‘s musical masterpiece about the trials and tribulations of a tight-knit family living in St. Louis on the eve of the 1904 World’s Fair. Memorable characters and charming songs, which include “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “The Trolley Song,” make this one of the greatest American musicals ever lensed.” — Netflix.com
This is a cute, upbeat musical about a family living in St. Louis. There is really nothing special or unique about them, but their story is memorable due to the timing (1904 World Fair) and the charming music contained in this movie. I really enjoyed Liza Minnelli’s (Judy Garland’s daughter) introduction and recommend that you watch it as it adds to the enjoyment of this film. She mentioned that this is her favorite movie of her mother’s and a few other details, such as the fact that Judy Garland really didn’t want to play this part as she was tired of portraying young girls. Still, she manages to pull off the fresh-faced, enthusiastic charm of a teenage girl in love with the boy next door and all of the joys and heartaches that that brings. She is really quite wonderful in this movie and I think it is one of her best next to The Wizard of Oz where she plays a young girl. The other girls in the movie were charming too, but it is the two youngest (Margaret O’Brien & Joan Carroll) who really steal the show! They are such a hoot and I was just waiting with breathless anticipation to see what scheme those two mischief makers will get embroiled in next!
The costumes were lovely in this movie and I loved the spring outfits at the end. They really put in some nice attention to detail in the costumes and the sets and this makes the movie visually very appealing and captivating. The music is lovely, too. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is contained in this movie, as are some nice family scenes about Christmas, but this is not a holiday movie, per se. It is really the story of a family through several seasons so you go through bottling ketchup in the harvest season to celebrating the holidays to enjoying the fair in the spring. The title song “Meet Me in St. Louis” is memorable and fun, as well as “Clang, Clang, Clang Went the Trolley” and other random songs that they sing throughout the movie. Instead of having huge cast numbers with lots of singing and dancing paced throughout this movie, this movie has a family that frequently breaks out in song and just sings about whatever they are feeling or doing at the time. This was kind of cool as it makes the musical different and unique in a sea of musicals from this time period.
I know that I watched this musical way back in the day, but could not really remember anything that happened, other than the opening sequence. It was a lot of fun to see it again and I noticed details that I didn’t before. I also noticed that I knew quite a few of the songs in this movie so I must have seen it more than I thought when I was younger. If you are looking for a clean musical that features plenty of music and lots of girly stories and situations, this is a great movie for you to rent. Don’t miss out on this classic musical if you like musicals or classics from this time period. A great rental for anytime of the year.
This movie features a few moments of brief nudity by the young girls (getting dressed sitting on her bed with her back to the camera and swimming in their underclothes, which makes them translucent), but they are done in a tasteful and normal way. The youngest girl sings a song about arriving home drunk and plays a prank involving a stuffed dummy over the trolley car tracks so she is a bit of a hoodlum and you want to make sure your daughters don’t follow her example! This movie is recommended for viewers of all ages.