The life of a St. Louis family in the year before the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.
A bit of cake and a song to blow away the wind of change. A film that is firmly ticking all the boxes for those looking for a family classic to admire and tap your feet along with. This delightful musical deals with one family and their struggle to deal with the changing of the times at the turn of the century. When the Father is requested to move to New York permanently with his job, the rest of the family are not that keen to leave their memories and their beloved home in St. Louis, and in to the mix is the varying degrees of blossoming love involving the elder daughters and their respective beaus. This film is just so gorgeous on many fronts, the colour beautifully realises the tremendous scope director Vincent Minnelli brings with his recreation of the era, the attention to detail is quality supreme. The story is good and earthy, a sort of tale to have the viewer hankering for the good old days before the world got itself in one big hurry. The songs are crackers, enjoy standards such as The Boy Next Door, The Trolley Song, and the simply precious Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. The cast are across the board doing good work but it is of course Judy Garland who carries the movie firmly on her slender shoulders, and here she has never been prettier, and her voice is practically as good as it ever was in her career. A film for all the family to enjoy, a film that is from the top echelons of musicals, and a film that simply demands you relax and enjoy. Right, I'm off to get a piece of cake... 9/10
The trick with this film is not to look for anything serious or complicated in it. It is an engaging early 20th century bit of Americana - a charming costume drama peppered with gentle comedy, some fantastic songs, and Judy Garland probably the most comfortable in any role that I have sever seen her play (except, perhaps in "Easter Parade" released 4 years later in 1948). The story is set across a year in the life of the well-to-do "Smith" family from St. Louis. Mary Astor and Leon Ames try to raise their daughters "Esther" (Garland), "Rose" (Lucille Bremer) and the youngest, "Tootie" (Margaret O'Brien), whom I have to say stole most of the scenes the she was in (and I really don't like children in films). It tackles courtship - and a fairly clumsily carried out courtship at that - with Tom Drake ("Truett") and the poor men in the family - son "Lon Jr." (Henry Daniels) and "Grandpa" (Harry Davenport) are consistently run rings around... "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", "The Trolley Song" and "Skip to My Lou" keep the toes-a-tapping - well maybe not the first one, so much - and the ensemble provide for a colourful, entertaining piece of cinema that Vincente Minnelli can be proud of. Sure it is a bit gloopy at times, but that's part of the overall sentiment of the film so if you have any cynical bones in your body - perhaps this is not for you.