Meet Me in St. Louis Screen 12 articles

Meet Me in St. Louis

1944

Meet Me in St. Louis Poster
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    The Nation: James Agee
    November 25, 1944 | Agee on Film (pp. 112-113)

    This habit of sumptuous idealization seriously reduces the value even of the few scenes on which I chiefly base my liking for the picture; but at the same time, and for that matter nearly all the time, it gives you, for once, something most unusually pretty to watch. I can't remember ever having seen studio-sealed Technicolor better used.

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    The New Republic: Manny Farber
    December 18, 1944 | Farber on Film (pp. 206-208)

    The producers don't look very long at these facts, preferring more pleasant things like Hallowe'en, frankly tissue-paper love affairs for the kids, and a good deal of boneless comedy—all of which is talented and quite amusing. I think this should be mentioned, since "Meet Me in St. Louis" is a lot more than Andy Hardy or the average film or stage musical and obviously knew enough to be stronger than it is.

  • Sally Benson's memories of childhood in St. Louis, Judy and Margaret as heartland sisters, the Currier & Ives look, and, above all, Minnelli's stylistic flair on the crane make this a thoroughly enchanting entertainment. . . . On the homefront, the shifting, weaving scenes of hubbub and minor discord, followed by group reconciliations, constitute one of the most glorious tributes ever paid to the American family.

  • The movie has achieved iconic status for its musical numbers and for Judy Garland's radiant performance; but thanks to Vincente Minnelli's inspired direction, it is an inexhaustible work of art. The rich mise-en-scène--a reflection of Minnelli's long tenure as a production designer--yields a complex dream of Americana that takes on a different timbre nearly every time you see it: The cinematic past rarely feels so vibrant and yet so distant, so much like an autonomous creation.

  • Technicolor nostalgia has its pitfalls and Minnelli is aware of them ("I feel elegant, but I can't breathe!"): his canvases and lithographs hum with uneasy edges, even cramped trolley seats are transformed by the choreography of torsos, hats, straphangers. . . . "Isn't it breathtaking!" "I liked it better when it was a swamp." A light show caps the perfection of the family portrait, the only thing to do afterwards is investigate the fissures (Home from the Hill, The Courtship of Eddie's Father).

  • There are many reasons to love ''Meet Me in St. Louis,'' among them the movie's cheerful, postcard vision of small-city family life in the early-20th century. But if you look more closely, you see it really is a musical of extremes, a version of nostalgia in overdrive. . . . Garland pours all sorts of conflicting ingredients into the song and into her performance over all: nervous energy, genuine delight, false cheerfulness and a few shadowy doses of true misery.

  • Minnelli gives a musical stylization to seemingly prosaic moments, as when Esther and Tom tour the house after the party, turning down the gas lamps and creating, as Minnelli’s camera floats above and follows them, an atmosphere of otherworldly intimacy. Slowly the deep, dark red that is Minnelli’s trademark . . . blossoms around them, making the darkened room seem far warmer than it did with the lights on. Pure artifice becomes pure feeling — and the effect is pure Minnelli.

  • Freed is certainly responsible for a large part of the thing called “Hollywood” . . . by making the feature-length color movie musical a part of the landscape of 20th-century American pop culture. But Minnelli’s richly layered and detailed compositions in Meet Me in St. Louis, which seem to embed (or embalm) the Smith family in fabrics and woodcuts, ends up transmitting what’s important about family unity and young love through physical patterns of impossible complexity.

  • It is in fact intensely wonderful, pure delight from beginning to end; people think of it primarily as a Judy Garland vehicle (and she's magnificent) but it's really one of Hollywood's greatest ensemble pieces, so enraptured with everybody onscreen that its essential plotlessness barely registers. The only bum note, as Theo observes, is Dad's climactic decision to remain in St. Louis, which is cheaply crowdpleasing in a way that undermines much of what makes the film so special.

  • That [producer/songwriter Arthur Freed's] vision resulted in movies like Cabin in the Sky , Meet Me in St. Louis, On the Town, An American in Paris, Singin’ in the Rain, The Band Wagon, and Gigi, should remind us of the malleability of the term authorship in cinema... There’s no better—or trickier—place to start than Meet Me in St. Louis, one of the most naggingly perfect of all American movies, and the film that is generally considered the first true blossoming of director Minnelli’s genius.

  • Director Vincent Minnelli dances nimbly on the line between comedy and drama, keeping the camera and the story moving as he cuts from one member of the family to another.

  • A nostalgic, war-time hit featuring one of Judy Garland’s best performances (she would soon become Minnelli’s wife) and a memorable collection of songs by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane; this film was a tour de force of design, color, and graceful camera movement, and it secured Minnelli’s position at MGM.

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