TBT: Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)


Hardly a week goes by when I don’t sing a cat-themed version of ‘The Trolley Song’ while feeding my two cats their breakfast, so I’ve long wanted to do a proper full review of Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). I even thought I’d make this a Patreon review with scads of screencaps and historical research. But as delightful as it was to rewatch this classic, I couldn’t make myself do all the extra work for this post because I’m dragging from both pandemic flux syndrome (that’s a thing, you may have it too, sorry!) and some asshole nitpicking a dumb joke on one of our posts last week.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) - There's no hope for me no.

How many times do I have to remind people that we do this for fun, in our free time, almost entirely for free? Also, we may offend you! We make all kinds of silly jokes, we use swear words, we are pretty goddamn irreverent. If you don’t like it, just move right along. If you think us saying “blah” is prejudiced against “blahs,” we don’t fucking care! Just go away, don’t use our blog as your little soapbox to defend the rights of “blahs” (oh and don’t personally insult us while you virture-signal, m’kay?). FWIW, we strive to be as hella inclusive as three white and white-passing, middle-class, over-educated, left-coast chicks can be. But we’re gonna make random jokes that are not always kind and loving and courteous to all creatures under the sun because the root of humor is pain (well that’s what I learned in college anyway). So because of last week’s whiner, the rest of you fine folk who aren’t assholes unfortunately don’t get as full a review of this amazing musical. Sorry, my tank is running on bitter fumes right now.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) - She's just stating a fact.

Well, how about this classic technicolor musical? It’s very specifically set in 1903, being the year leading up to the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Costume designer Irene Sharaff tried hard to give a turn-of-the-last-century look to everything worn by the four Smith sisters. It’s really the hair and makeup that trademark it as 1940s.

Judy Garland, as the second-oldest daughter, Esther, whose love life much of the plot revolves around, first appears in this jaunty tennis outfit. She’s just stinkin’ cute as a button in stripes head to toe.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Her older sister Rose (Lucille Bremer) is prissy in her shirtwaist outfits, but she does get some nice period-style detailing.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Mom and the maid look appropriate, if unexciting. Also, kitty!

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

The first really big musical scene is the party they throw for their brother Lon, who’s going away to college. All the local gang comes over, and song-and-dance numbers break out.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

This chick in the fabulous striped skirt brings her horn.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Esther & little sister Tootie (Margaret O’Brien) do a number together.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Screen test for Judy’s costume. I freakin’ love all that fringe!

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

The costume in Debbie Reynold’s auction catalog.

Let’s face it, if you don’t love ball fringe or breaking out in song, you won’t like this movie. Speaking of songs, here comes my fave!

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

There’s your earworm for the day. You’re welcome!

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Esther wears this stylish black velvet jacket & tartan skirt for the trolley.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Test shot for costumes of some of the trolley passengers. Nice take on the period with appropriately gigantic hats.

Everyone remembers this movie for its final Christmas scene and song, but many forget the truly insane Halloween scene neatly tucked in the middle of this movie. Families let their toddlers and grammar-school-age kids out to wreak havoc in the streets. No mere trick-or-treating, oh no. There’s raging bonfires built of furniture, they threaten to kill neighbors, and they try to overturn the town’s public transit system. No helicopter parents in sight.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Halloween costumes of this era were just old clothes, dirt smudges, & inexplicably fake noses & creepy masks.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) - I'm the most horrible!

While their little sister is out training to be a hoodlum, Rose and Esther just chill at home, bitching about boys.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Did I mention ball fringe?

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

It’s a really cute blouse. Especially if you like ball fringe.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

The stripey tie & belt really make Rose’s chartreuse suit POP.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) - I was drunk last night, dear mother

Tootie tries to pass off her wild shenanigans on booze (who doesn’t). Halloween is also when Dad tells the family that they’re all moving to New York City and, darn, they’ll miss the World’s Fair, making the whole point of this movie moot.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) - It'll take me at least a week to dig up all my dolls from the cemetery

While these weird kids sort their shit out, time jumps forward to Christmas. The fam builds a yard full of snowpeople (who will come to tragic destruction), and then there’s a big formal dance ball in town.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

They dress up their snowpeople in regular people clothes — what, doesn’t everyone?

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Dress Esther wears under her coat in the snow. Pic from Debbie Reynolds auction catalog.

Getting ready for the ball, the older sisters indulge in some corset cliches. Esther hasn’t worn a corset before (the hell?) so Rose laces her up and yanks it tight. sigh

Judy Garland, Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Bedposts, essential to corset-lacing since GWTW, gag.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Pink for Esther.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Blue for Rose.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Here’s when I should insert something relevant about how the studios starved Judy Garland and pumped her full of pills to make her skinny as a young girl. It was shitty and there’s some kind of analogy to this scene, but y’all are gonna have to look it up for yourselves this time.

There’s a big kerfuffle about the ball and everyone’s dates and dance partners. Kind of silly, but that’s this kind of flick. Here’s Esther in her gorgeous 1940s, er, 1900s evening gown. When the original dress was on display at a St. Louis museum, it did look a bit more historical — check out the article.

Judy Garland, Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

After the ball, Esther sings the saddest Christmas song ever (the original lyrics were even sadder!).

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Damn, I hope so.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Guess it was sad enough to change Dad’s mind — the family is NOT moving to New York! So everyone can stay, the girls can hook up with their boyfriends, and it’s on to the World’s Fair in frilly white dresses.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Mom gets perhaps the most Edwardian dress in the entire flick right here!

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Image from the Debbie Reynolds auction catalog.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

All the girls, ready for the fair.

Judy Garland, Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Esther in her fair-going glory!



Is “The Trolley Song” stuck in your head now?

39 Responses

  1. Edith Kemp

    You just can’t mention “cat-themed” lyrics to the Trolley Song and not supply them.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Heh, they vary, but include things like ‘meow meow meow went the kitty, chomp chomp chomp on the food’ — I’m not a great lyricist but they don’t care, they just want breakfast.

      • Liesl

        I came to the comments section for precisely this. Thank you so much!

      • M.E. Lawrence

        I’m glad other people make up song parodies for their cats. MMiSL is up there with “Singing in the Rain” in our family’s estimation, and Tootie is the best kid in movie-musical history.

        • Saraquill

          I think it’s a law that if you made cat song parodies, at least one should be to “What’s New Pussycat?”

      • Terry Towels

        I tried to come up with some– couldn’t, but came here. You’ve helped “meow meow went the kitty clang clang went the bowl”

  2. susan l eiffert

    You, my fellow left-coast gals, (okay I’m way out East now) are hilarious but trenchant, profane but spot on, quite literate but not taking yourselves or anything else too seriously. I love checking in each morning on your derision as well as admiration when a costumer gets it right. Don’t go changin’ and more importantly, don’t let the bastards grin you down!

    • Mist

      As an Englishwoman (just because you stated your home place ;-) I was going to write something about whiny idiots, how this place never fails to make me smile & how awesome this website is.

      But then you wrote something a lot better & more awesome. Thank you & totally agree with you x

    • susan l eiffert

      Make that grinD you down! Thanks for all you do, ladies.

      • Janet

        I’m so glad fellow Fock Flick Fans come here, to the comment section, to show their support💞✊🏻.

        I know “it’s NOT done” and you wouldn’t stoop so low. But I would gladly gang-up (with fellow enraged Frock Flick Fans) on that arshole and privately “troll him to max”…so he would never dare to show his face on Social Media again. ✊🏻🤣😅

    • florenceandtheai

      Arseholes gonna arse. I come here to forget that once outside my (lovely) little college town I’m stuck in the middle of GOP cornland. Keep doing the work!

    • Lisa

      I can’t believe that you did not mention the thickest, shiniest, most inferiority- complex-for-a-little-girl creating hair in movie making history. I loved this movie.

    • Susan Pola Staples

      This and Music Man are two of my favourite musicals. The other is Wizard of Oz. One of my favourite scenes is when we meet the younger Lassie’s Timmy’s mom as the rich New York Deb. She’s not stuck up but nice, and the looks on both Esther’s and Rose’s face. Also the running gag about Rose’s boyfriend calling from New York. Favourite songs are the Christmas one, The Trolley Song and of course, Meet Me In St Louis,

      Hope you recover quickly and feel tons better.

      Doesn’t Esther’s red Ballgown remind you of Worth’s red one at MCNY?

  3. Fran in NYC

    I was able to see this movie on PBS in its entirety and I loved it! I had never seen the whole movie before and that made a big difference for me! It has downbeat aspects and gorgeous sets and costumes. Not a cookie-cutter piece of escapism! The Halloween segment is bananas in showing what the local kids get up to. The segment where the fam protest the move to NY and the mother brings them back together at the piano is so good.

    Ignore the attention trolls!

    • Trystan L. Bass

      It’s a surprisingly complex movie with ups & downs, as well as amazing songs. And yeah, the mom & dad singing at the piano makes me cry.

  4. thedementedfairy

    I have always LOOOOOVVVED this fillum, and now I love your review as well. [I could cheerfully drown Tootie though- ew her voice grates]
    Fabulous dahlinks

    • Janet

      Oh my good your “cheerfully drown Tootie” comment 🤣🤣🤣

  5. Kathyglo

    The costumes are beautiful but sure seem elaborately over the top today! I cannot imagine tromping around a fair in that white dress! Oh well…Hollywood escapism!! Nice review!!

  6. Frances Germeshausen

    I, personally, adore ball fringe and have it on lamp shades. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is harder to get through every year – it hits that bittersweet note of the holidays spot on. And, of course, Judy’s voice just slays. And Margaret O’Brien is the cutest little nut case ever. Love this movie.

  7. Gail

    When Tootie knocks down the snow people and Judy sings – gets me every time.

  8. Saraquill

    My memory has failed me. I could have sworn there was already a Frock Flicks review of this.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      I’ve mentioned it a billion times bec. it’s one of my faves, & we have a WCW of Judy Garland & a guide to the costume designer’s work, but not a full-length review.

  9. Nzie

    Gotta love this flick… yeah, the hair is so wrong, but some great costumes in this too.

    Also, I love this blog. If something isn’t my cup of tea (which does happen), I just keep scrolling.

  10. Kelly

    I’m a fan of ball fringe–and that blue blouse always made me think of those little dots-on-paper candy. Do they make those anymore? I think I’ve just seriously dated myself.
    And I think the costume designer of Disney’s Mary Poppins said, “Yeah, we want Mary’s jolly holiday dress to be just like Judy Garland’s in MMISL!” But I would wear that lovely red dress with the grapes trapunto every day!
    Thanks for the laughs–and the comment about the insane Halloween shenanigans!

    • Janet

      Loved her whole description around the Halloween segment of the movie as well. “Tootie training to be a hoodlum” 👌🏻🤣🤣🤣

  11. Mrs.D

    I’m curious about the blue fringed suit with the yellow blouse—if it faded over time or was originally a different color and just looked blue onscreen? The yellow blouse is still yellow, but the blue suit looks light grey.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      I wonder too! But I didn’t get far researching it. My guess is mostly fading, but maybe a little bit how it looked onscreen. The catalog/auction pix can be wildly different that what was onscreen, & Technicolor in particular was known for juicing up colors so they were more vivid.

  12. Rebecca

    I also love this movie- Judy is most adorable here and people who don’t get the Frock Flicks flava can go suck a lemon. I talk to my cats and the dog, but now am thinking a little song and dance with the morning and evening kibble might be what we all need

  13. Mary

    Nolite te carborundurum! Want to say THANK YOU all for being you, I’ve enjoyed your blog for a nice long bunch of years, have directed other people your way, and hope to continue to do so. Some especial treats: the Patreon zoom discussion last year was so much fun, and this week’s “where to find good classic stuff” post is great! I’m watching “Miss Pettigrew” right now.
    I’ve noticed a very unpleasant trend, in which people who join in or partake of various social media offerings will demand a level of moderation and comfort that they are unlikely to require in face-to-face settings with, say family and friends, where their voices might make a real difference. Let’s keep our energy focused in the right arenas, people, please! And keep the snark flowing!

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Definitely an unpleasant trend!

      But hey maybe we should do another Patreon zoom thing? We especially love all y’all who keep us going :)

  14. Melissa C

    I love this movie, it’s one of my favorite old movies ever. I love the songs, the look, just all of it. And yes, I will be singing “The Trolley Song” for the rest of the day.

  15. Terry Towels

    Kids got be hoodlums for Halloween back in the day. I had an uncle who described dismantling a Model T to put on top of a neighbor’s house, and putting a frozen (dead) bear in someone’s outhouse.

    I also love this movie, and realized I’ve not seen it in quite a while (can’t remember how the Christmas song goes). Thanks for the reminder.

  16. MJ

    HOW did I miss this the first time around?? One of my favorite movies ever. We watch it as a family for Halloween, because so few films have a really good trick-or-treating scene and this one is classic. Awesome review and love y’all.

  17. Maureen

    So I looked up the original lyrics to Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – wow! No wonder they changed ’em! This version is already melancholy enough.

    Thanks for being you, FF, and for giving me so much fun. The snark, the screenshots of costume details I might have missed, and all that lovely costuming eye candy.