As 1944 brought the D-Day landings, Hollywood was reminding audiences just why (to steal a line from an earlier Judy Garland movie) "there's no place like home". Set in 1903, in the St Louis house of the Smiths, Vincente Minnelli's enchanting musical is all about the joys of family life.
In keeping with the momentous events occurring at the time of its release, the story focuses on the upheaval that threatens the family's cohesion: the eldest daughters are searching for husbands, the only son is due to go to Princeton, and the lovable but slightly out of touch father is about to give everyone some bad news - he's been offered a promotion... in New York. Life, it seems, will never be the same again.
Combining some wonderful song and dance routines with a cast of memorable characters, "Meet Me in St Louis" is certainly one the best Hollywood musicals ever. It's also one of the least ostentatious.
Minnelli makes sure that the musical interludes never upstage the central family drama. Instead, songs like the signature tune "Meet Me in St Louis" or Garland's rendition of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" dispel any chance of an unhappy ending, wrapping the characters and the audience in the musical equivalent of cotton wool.
Full of nostalgia for the romantic traditions of the Old South - complete with horses and traps, gentlemen callers, and evening dances - and bursting with homespun Technicolor warmth, "Meet Me in St Louis" is pure celluloid sugar.