After three weeks of black-and-white Christmas films, the technicolor explosion of Meet Me in St. Louis (Disc/Download) is quite a shock for the eyes. Visually stunning, this Judy Garland classic screams Hollywood Studio System, while signaling a modern auteur-driven type of storytelling still to come. With a creepy Victorian snow family, a night of trick-or-treating straight out of Stranger Things, and a horrifying platter of corned beef and cabbage, this movie is one crazy trolley ride.
Set in St. Louis at the turn of the century, the film is about the mundane lives of a large middle-class family, the Smiths (lord, even their name is boring). The daughters are chasing after boys, the dad is rolling his eyes, and everyone’s all atwitter about the upcoming World’s Fair. Though the plot of Meet Me in St. Louis holds little interest for me, the visual pop of Vincente Minnelli’s directorial style is what truly makes this film a classic. The vibrant costumes, unusual lighting, and ahead-of-its-time Halloween horror sequence—these are the elements I keep coming back to.
This film tends to get lumped into holiday movies due to Judy Garland’s heartbreakingly lovely rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, and the red velvet dress she wears. This was the moment the world sat up and took note of Garland, child actress no more. She’s beautiful and sexy, like something out of a John Singer Sargent painting. While watching Meet Me in St. Louis, celebrate Judy with this Red Velvet Martini.
Red Velvet Martini
2 oz Cake vodka
1 oz White Crème de Cacao
3/4 oz Grenadine
1/4 oz Simple syrup
2-3 dashes Aztec bitters
Chocolate drop for garnish
Mix liquid ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigoriously, then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a chocolate drop.
Because this film is full of iconic costumes, it makes me eager to learn more about the stories behind them. Until the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures opens in Los Angeles, whet your appetite with the book Hollywood Costume. And for anyone interested in the scary underbelly of a World’s Fair, I highly recommend Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City. Chronicling the true story of a serial killer targeting visitors to the Chicago World’s Fair, this book will have you wondering if the Smith family home is really as boring as it seems. Cheers, and happy reading!