Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) Vincente Minnelli
“Tootie! What’s wrong with Tootie?”
Why, her sister just sang her the most melancholy song ever, of course she’s bashing in the heads of snow people.
Meet Me In St. Louis is an unexpected treasure. This was my second viewing, and I could see owning this film. On the surface, it is a charming ode to family and the Midwest. But even the sweetest confections need to be tempered with some darkness, and this film certainly is.
The film centers around the Midwestern Smith family - mother, father, grandpa, maid, and five children - older sisters Rose and Esther (Judy Garland), brother Lon Jr., and younger sisters Agnes and Tootie. The younger sisters provide much of this darkness - both seem strangely obsessed with death and illness, and while this produces the funniest and most memorable lines, it is also strangely (and perfectly) unsettling. In one of the weirdest non sequitur scenes in cinema, Agnes and Tootie partake in a totally dark and bizarre Halloween ritual.
This is also Judy Garland at her best. Her voice swings and slides through some really delightful songs. Particularly of note is “Have yourself a merry little Christmas”, my favorite Christmas carol and a really beautiful (but melancholy) song, which was supposed to be even more of a downer in earlier versions. She’s particularly beautiful in this film, but still shows a bit of her youthful gawkiness. This translates into a really appealing funniness, but a deep vulnerability also shows through. Another layer of darkness also comes from this vulnerability, and from a knowledge of her troubled private life.
And just think - without this movie we might not have gotten **Liza Minelli**! (jazz hands)
#148 - 7/1/2012