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Another classic musical from the MGMs golden age, starring the immensely talented Judy Garland (it’s a good job she is multi-talented too, because a lesser star would have had the show stolen from right under her nose by Margaret O’Brien as adorable Little Tootie).  This isn’t strictly a Christmas film, but it does feature Judy singing ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’, so it almost counts!

Set in 1904, the Smith family live in St Louis and are excited about the yearly St Louis World’s Fair.  Judy plays Esther, the second eldest daughter and one of five children.  The aforementioned 7 year old Margaret O’Brien is youngest child Tootie, and anyone who thinks that children can’t be exceptional actors should see this film!  While eldest daughter Rose (Lucille Bremer) hopes for a proposal from her boyfriend Warren Sheffield (Robert Sully), Esther falls in love with the family’s new neighbour John Truitt.  The family’s happiness is threatened when their father (Leon Ames) announces the he has been given a job in New York, and the family will have to move there.  There are some superb songs – the title track, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Skip To My Lou and The Trolley Song, to name a few – and there is lots of colour, romance and humour.

This isn’t my favourite Judy Garland film – I think the lesser known films The Harvey Girls and The Pirate are both better movies – but it is hugely enjoyable and bound to make the viewer feel good.  Judy looks beautiful, and there is not a weak link among the cast.  And it made me want to visit St Louis!

Recommended for all fans of great musicals.

Year of release: 1944

Director: Vincente Minnelli

Writers: Sally Benson (book), Irving Brecher, Fred F. Finklehoffe, Doris Gilver, Victor Heerman, William Ludwig, Sarah Y. Mason

Main cast: Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, Mary Astor, Lucille Bremer, Leon Ames, Tom Drake, Marjorie Main, Henry Davenport, Joan Carroll, Henry H. Daniels Jr.

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