In the sublime Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), Judy Garland plays a teenaged girl even though she was then in her early 20s and divorced. But it hardly matters: she is both convincing and luminous in the role. This is partly due to makeup artist Dorothy Ponedel, but Garland’s technical skills remained first-rate and are the most winning thing about the film. There is never any lack of nuance or proper restraint in her singing; well does she serve such dandy numbers as “The Boy Next Door” and “The Trolley Song.”
Directed by Vincente Minnelli, St. Louis is a 1940s pop masterpiece. After seeing it for the umpteenth time, I noticed something: the characters in the film are strangely sanctified through being a close-knit family. No wonder they sing a lot; they’re usually happy and expectant. They’re far removed from the dark domain Judy chose to create, before the making of the film, by getting both a divorce and an abortion.