Christmas Movies I

film 11 of 16

Meet Me in St. Louis

Film Review by Dean Duncan Apr 1, 2015

A superlative demonstration of studio resources and studio craft, a superlative example of design and cinematography, and of design and cinematography conforming themselves to the mandates of the Technicolor™ Corporation; a superlative showcase for the sublime soon-to-be/already woman of sorrows Judy Garland, and for her soon-to-be/already superlative studio director/artist/husband, Vincente Minelli, a superlative example of how and that commercial Hollywood could often be quite adventurous—dig that narrative architecture!—at the same time that it provided the most ingratiating and accessible entertainment to every possible sense or sensibility.

Furthermore: though set in the early 1900s, Meet Me in St. Louis is an emblematic, extraordinarily poignant parable of the time in which it was produced and released. Though not immediately visible to the naked eye, ca. 1944 MMiSL might as well be called Why We Fight, as was Frank Capra/Anatole Litvak/the US War Department’s celebrated series of informational documentaries explaining the roots and reasons of the 2nd World War. Imagine the comfort and courage it must have provided during the early part of that terrible winter, with Allied victory practically assured and yet still agonizingly distant. Futhermore, with regard to the cluster in which we have placed it, sports the most absolutely crushing of movie Christmas climaxes. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” as most may know, is so wrenchingly not as cheerful as its blithe title might indicate. “Through the years we all may be together/if the fates allow/until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow …”

We pause briefly to mention that this movie has one of the dullest of film history’s long litany of dull romantic needs. Doesn’t slow it down in the least. Tootie, Gramps, Katie the maid, H. to pay, the immortal Mr. Braukoff, a certain trolley, etc.