By Thomas Myler
Scan your television listings shortly because Christmas would not be the same without a screening of Meet Me In St Louis. A captivating 1944 movie considered a classic today and set around the World’s Fair of 1903, it has Judy Garland singing some of her most famous songs such as Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, The Boy Next Door and The Trolley Song. What more can you ask?
“The movie has a kind of bloom, a nostalgic scent from the safe past of childhood,” said Dilys Powell in the Sunday Times. “It is beautifully played, in particular by Ms Garland, whose talents as an actress are, I believe, of a much higher order than is generally recognised.”
The idea of Meet Me In St Louis came to MGM producer Arthur Freed in early 1942 while he was looking over a collection of short stories by Sally Benson, the rights of which Freed had just purchased. They were based on her childhood in St Louis, Missouri.
One of the stories which caught Freed’s eye was called Meet Me In St Louis. Set in the summer of 1903, it related the story of a year in the life of the Smith family in St. Louis, leading up to the opening of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, more commonly referred to as the World’s Fair, in the spring of 1904.
Packed with nostalgic incidents relating to a simpler, more peaceful era, the stories tapped into the same “There’s no place like home” feel as The Wizard of Oz, an earlier MGM movie starring Garland.