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Meet Me In St. Louis

Meet Me In St. Louis

By Patrick Samuel • December 8th, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 5/5

Original release: November 28th, 1944
Running time: 108 minutes

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Writers: Irving Brecher, Fred F. Finkelhoffe

Cast: Judy Garland, Lucille Bremer, Robert Sully, Tom Drake, Marjorie Main, Leon Ames, Mary Astor

Meet Me In St. Louis

Few stars have shone as brightly as Judy Garland. From child star to MGM’s most bankable actress, she went on to become a gay icon and was synonymous with the Stonewall movement that rose up on the night of her death on June 27th 1969, but when we think of her it’s always that beautifully innocent face and angelic voice we remember, along with the roles she played in films such as Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938) and The Wizard of Oz (1939), but she also lights up the screen in Meet Me In St. Louis.

Based on the novel ‘The Kensington Stories‘ by Sally Benson and set in 1903, it’s the story of a well-to-do family in mid-western St Louis at the time leading up to the World’s Fair the following year. Judy plays Esther, a young woman desperately trying to attract the attention of her new neighbour, John (Tom Drake), who lives next door. So far he hasn’t taken the slightest bit of notice of her. In one of the film’s stand-out song moments she sings The Boy Next Door while looking longingly over at him from afar, but still nothing.

We also meet Esther’s older sister, Rose (Lucille Bremer). She’s waiting for a long distance telephone call from her beau, Warren (Robert Sully) who’s in New York and hopes he will propose to her. There’s also an older brother, Lon Jr. (Henry H. Daniels, Jr.), two younger sisters, Agnes (Joan Carroll) and Tootie (Margaret O’Brien) and mom Anna (Mary Astor) and dad Alonzo (Leon Ames). They’re all looked after by Katie the maid (Marjorie Main) who helps to keep the household warm, fed and looking immaculate. Happy as they are, things look like they’re about to change when a promotion for Alonzo means the family will be uprooted to New York.

In another memorable scene, Esther comes home after a ball on Christmas Eve to find her little sister Tootie distraught over the prospect of the move; she sings her Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. In The Christmas Carol Reader by William Emmett Studwell, he mentions this very song but first tells us a little bit about the writers:

Meet Me In St. Louis

“The authors of this merry little Christmas song were Alabam-born composer, lyricist, and singer Hugh Martin, who wrote the music, and Oklahoma-born singer, lyricist, and composer Ralph Blane Hunseeker, also known as Ralph Blane, who wrote the lyrics. Martin and Blane were frequent collaborator, also combining on “Buckle Down Winsocki” (1941), “The Trolley Song” (1944), “The Boy Next Door” (1944), and “Pass that Peace Pipe” (1948).”

He then goes on to offer why the song has endured as long as it has, especially during the holiday season:

“Their most enduring song, possibly, is “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” In part this is because it is a pleasant and accessible piece of musical dreaminess, and in part because it is strongly entrenched in the December holiday season, a most favourable sitatuion for the preservation of any song, including lesser ones than this ballad.”

  • Studwell, W.E. The Christmas Carol Reader (1995), Routledge

I couldn’t agree with him more. It’s a moment that’s right up there with Bing Crosby singing White Christmas. It’s simply one the world’s best loved Christmas songs. With its heart-tugging lyrics, it can bring a tear to even the hardest among us and when Judy sings it here, no matter how bad things might be, she shines with an optimism that’s needed today as much as it was in 1944.

It’s part of what makes Meet Me In St. Louis such a timeless classic, and even though the rest of the cast do an amazing job with their performances, our eyes are always drawn to Judy when she’s onscreen. I can’t think of a star today who has an ounce of her star power and talent – they just can’t compare. Though there are many other festive classics to choose from, this film remains special in my heart because of her.

Meet Me In St. Louis

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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