2020 Blind Spot Series: Meet Me In St. Louis/Summer Stock
What I knew going in: The famous songs.
IMDB sums up Meet Me In St. Louis up best. "In the year leading up to the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, the four Smith daughters learn lessons of life and love, even as they prepare for a reluctant move to New York." The majority of the film follows Esther Smith (Judy Garland) as she tries to get her new neighbor Jon Pruitt (Tom Drake) to notice her. Esther also has an older love sick sister Rose (Lucille Bremer) and two mischievous little sisters, Agnes and Tootie (Joan Carroll and Margaret O'Brien)
I realized, embarrassingly that I'm not very well versed in the late, great Judy Garland's filmography. I knew plenty about the drama surrounding her life, but I had only seen two of her films. This year I decided to right that wrong and I figured Meet Me In St. Louis was a good place to start.
This movie was delightful and just what I needed after a long, depressing week of another needless killing of a black man by a police officer in America. (You're reading this in August, but I'm typing this review on May 31st. Hopefully people have started to listen to the protesters more by now) It lifted my spirits for a short while, and for that I'm very thankful.
Judy is wonderful and her voice is just something else. The films is so bright and colorful and she radiates joy throughout. The Smith family was fun to watch and it was nice to get all the context behind the musical numbers I was familiar with. I wish Joan Carroll would've gotten more to do though. She opens the movie singing the title song briefly, then she's really just background noise to Margaret O'Brien, who had the juicer role of the two younger sisters.
Memorable Quote: "Oh I don't hate you, I just hate basketball." - Esther (Judy Garland)
Now onto Summer Stock, in this film Judy plays Jane, a down on her luck farmer whose sister Abigail (Gloria DeHaven) shows up one day with about 20 actors in tow and has promised them the barn for the show. Jane beings to butt heads, then fall for the show's director and star, Joe. (Gene Kelly)
I love me some Gene Kelly but everyone in this movie aside from Jane, Joe, and Esme (Marjorie Main) is too dumb for words. That made it a little hard to watch at times, but the dance numbers were so much fun that I would forget it about briefly. I read a lot about the backstage drama surrounding this film. How Judy was at the height of her drug addiction, and performance wise you never would've guessed. She's good here too and Kelly is an absolute delight.
As you probably can tell, I liked Meet Me In St. Louis far more, but don't sleep on Summer Stock. It's enjoyable enough, plot contrivances aside.
Memorable Quote: "We're trying to tell a story with music and song and dance." - Joe (Gene Kelly)