Monday, 19 December 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 353: Thursday Dec 22

Meet Me in St Louis (Minnelli, 1944): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20 & 8.45pm
This re-released film is on an extended run until December 29. Details here.

I went to see this on Sunday and the film certainly lives up to its reputation as one of Hollywood's finest musicals. There are numerous articles and features on this film, including an excellent one by Richard Dyer in the January edition of Sight & Sound. Dyer refers to work by Andrew Britton on the film which has been reproduced in the recent publication of his complete film criticism and by Robin Wood in his collection Personal Views. Both are well worth seeking out.

And here is an excellent piece by the Guardian's John Patterson on Minnelli to coincide with the re-release of tonight's film.

Time Out review:

'In 1939, rosy-cheeked chanteuse Judy Garland trumpeted the cosy, all-American proverb that ‘there’s no place like home’ in ‘The Wizard of Oz’. She returned five years later to reaffirm those beliefs in Vincente Minnelli’s musical masterpiece, ‘Meet Me in St Louis’, a Technicolor ode to the joys and tensions of living side-by-side with your fellow man.

In a snow globe rendering of St Louis, Missouri circa 1903, the affluent Smith clan must face the prospect of ripping up their ancestral roots to chase future fortunes. The film has only a whisper of a plot, preferring to amass the simple pleasures of life (flirting with neighbours, riding the trolley, Christmas with the folks) into a single romantic vision of a perfect society.

Framed as a sepia-tinted postcard come to life, Minnelli’s panoramic city symphony examines the meanings of nostalgia and memory while offering a sweetly ironic depiction of Middle American conservatism where sex is taboo, dinner is at six, money is evil and father knows best. A heavenly slice of brassy Hollywood romanticism that’ll still have you swooning all the way to the trolley stop.'
David Jenkins

Here is the remarkable Halloween sequence which Britton and Wood found so fascinating.

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