1944 musical Meet Me In St. Louis is a film about a family that really like living in St. Louis. I don’t think it would be too disingenuous to claim that it’s not really about much else. There are a few subplots involving the love lives of the older siblings and some others involving the hijinks of the younger sisters, and, at one point, the jeopardy of the fact that the family might have to move away from St. Louis, but mainly it’s a series of vignettes with no particular overarching narrative.
Nonetheless I would defy anyone to sit through the 113 minutes running time and not feel entirely uplifted by the end. It is an absolute joy from start to finish yet retains a quirky and slightly surreal edge that prevents it from becoming overly saccharine. Judy Garland receives top billing and completely justifies this status, but the whole cast is eminently likeable and arguably Margaret O’Brien as the mischievous and surprisingly macabre youngest child ‘Tootie’ is the most memorable performance.
Score for Christmasishness
The movie incorporates a year in the life of the family, covering a period from summer 1903 until spring 1904. The ‘winter’ part of the movie is entirely set at Christmas, but it really only takes up around 25% of the running time. Nonetheless, it is very Christmassy during that part of the movie, and the film would always have scored highly on my ‘Christmas(ish) scale’. However, the fact that this is the movie that gave us the song ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ means I can’t award it anything other than top marks. You could legitimately watch Meet Me In St. Louis at any time of year, but it really works well as a Christmas movie.