Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Genres - Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Americana, Family Drama, Musical Romance  |   Release Date - Nov 28, 1944 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 113 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Richard Gilliam

Meet Me in St. Louis is a "family values" exercise in traditional Americana, following the life of a midwest family as the World's Fair comes to early 20th century St. Louis. There are songs, family crises, more songs, more crises, and more songs. The highlight of the film is Judy Garland's singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Meet Me in St. Louis was the first team-up for Garland and director Vincente Minnelli, whom Garland would go on to marry, producing their daughter Liza Minnelli, though they would divorce six years later, in 1951. Minnelli's talent for handling complex set pieces works well in this film, as does the lively Technicolor cinematography of George Folsey. At least some of the credit should go to songwriter turned producer Arthur Freed for his excellent work in bringing together the proper talent. Freed also doubled as the singing voice of actor Leon Ames.

One piece of Hollywood backstage lore -- that this was the film for which the director (Minnelli) resorted to telling a child actress (Margaret O'Brien) that her dog had been run over and killed, in order to get her to cry properly in the next scene to be shot -- has since been denied by O'Brien. The actress recently told Turner Classic Movies' Robert Osborne that her impetus for crying in the scene was hearing (from her mother) that actress Jane Powell wouldn't have any problem drumming up tears. O'Brien - fiercely competitive with Powell -- then wept on camera without any problem. She cried at full volume, and she later received a special Oscar for her performance.