Thursday, May 9, 2013
166. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Running Time: 113 minutes
Directed By: Vincente Minnelli
Written By: Irving Brecher, Fred F. Finklehoffe, from novel by Sally Benson
Main Cast: Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien, Mary Astor, Lucille Bremer, Tom Drake
Click here to view the trailer
FAMILY AND STUFF
Come hell or high water, "Meet Me in St. Louis" was apparently determined to be viewed THIS season. Under the blueprints of the old format, it was scheduled to be watched as part of "Vincente Minnelli" week. However, when the format was changed to the "5 and 5" method, it still came up and therefore, I was destined to have Judy Garland and a whole lot of melodrama shoved down my throat.
The film really isn't about anything, but instead is simply fodder for singing songs and showing a portrait of perfect family life & values, in the heart of America - via St. Louis. Okay, okay, so it has a loose plot, but it's barely there and trust me, it's really about that family stuff. The family is the Smith's (typical) and the one Minnelli is most concerned with touting is Esther Smith (Garland), a late teen - early twenty-something girl who spends her days swooning over her handsome next door neighbor, John Truett (Drake). Esther has three sisters - the eldest, Rose (Bremer) and two younger - and a brother. Of course, there's mom and dad too. Hell, there's even a grandpa and a maid, so it's a regular freakin' Brady Bunch. The film is really just a collection of vignettes, as we see the Smith's hosting a dinner party, a scene depicting the two younger sisters and the time they have during the Halloween festivities and we end around Christmastime and a big dance, where the eldest sister is forced to go with her brother (ewww). The brunt of the plot finally arrives, past the one hour mark, when Dad announces that he's moving the family to New York, for a career opportunity. The entire family acts as if it's the end of the world that they must leave the (apparent) paradise that is St. Louis and that takes us into the film's finale.
You know how when you go to the doctor and complain of a sore throat and they want to take an extra long q-tip and touch the back of your throat and you gag a little bit, because, let's face it, q-tips weren't meant to be touching the back of one's throat? Well, that's kind of equivalent to watching "Meet Me in St. Louis", because there are plenty of moments where you just want to gag. The film is just so damn wholesome and goody-goody, almost as if it's REQUIRED to be watched while sitting around a roaring fireplace, with Ma, Pa, Pappy and the family dog, Scruffy. The good news is, the fact that the songs seem to come out of nowhere is quite realistic, because you expect a gag inducing family like this to be singing songs round the clock, while they wait for the next big dance, family function or dinner party.
Okay, so maybe I'm being a little too hard on this one. It wasn't as bad as I'm making it out to be, but it's just about average at best and when I rate a movie average, I usually like to make a choice between praising the little that I can or just totally driving it into the ground. I've apparently chosen the latter here. It uses it's time wisely, doesn't drag and Lucille Bremer is a vision of loveliness. I also liked the guy who played the father (Leon Ames), but he was barely in the movie. I've also realized how much I really dislike Judy Garland and never want to see another one of her pictures, as long as I live. Liza Minnelli, if she valued my opinion, might be happy to know that I think her world's better than her mother and that's after only ever seeing her in one film - "Cabaret". Anyway, call it an average affair, a movie full of cringe worthy moments and way too wholesome for my tastes, but with enough good to not drag. Watch it around Christmas and you may be able to stomach it a little better, as it has a lot of qualities that may come off as more charming during the holidays.
RATING: 5.5/10 That's the best I can do. Let's hope that's the last Judy Garland movie in the book...I'm pretty sure it is!
MOVIES WATCHED: 678
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 323
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