Turkey Day Classics

The Retro Set would like to wish all of its readers a very happy Thanksgiving! In honor of National Food Coma day, (which, incidentally, is celebrating its 150th Anniversary as a national holiday this year) two of the Retro Set contributors got together and decided to wax poetic about the one film that means “Thanksgiving” to them more than any other. Here they are, and we hope you’ll find them to be visual comfort food just like we do.

My favorite film to watch on Thanksgiving every year is The Shop Around the Corner (1940), which to me is the perfect way to kick off the Christmas season. I love everything about this gentle, lovely, oh-so-romantic movie. The warm and sexy chemistry between James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan always makes me want to swoon. (Yes, I said “sexy.” Just check out that scene in which Klara lies in bed, heartsick, while Kralik visits and then listens to her read his own words out loud from his letter. Look at Stewart’s face, the way he watches Sullavan. And the closing sequence in the shop–ye gods, the sexual tension is subtle, but fierce. Fierce, I tells you!) Also, I adore the supporting cast, especially Frank Morgan as Mr. Matuschek and William Tracy as precocious Pepi. What I most appreciate about Shop, however, is that it doesn’t sink into pure sentimentality, which would be oh-so-easy with material like this. Instead, it radiates genuine emotion even when at its most melancholy, and the film really earns its happy ending. Truly, if any movie exemplified the storied “Ernst Lubitsch touch,” I think it’s this one.

In fact, I love the storyline of this film so much, I even enjoy its two remakes, In the Good Old Summertime (1949) and You’ve Got Mail (1998). They aren’t quite as special to me as Shop, but I like them (particularly Mail) all the same.

Happy Thanksgiving, Dear Friends. 🙂

-Brandie Ashe

Nothing feels more like a warm blanket, a cup of hot cocoa (with marshmallows, thank you very much) and slice of hot apple pie than Vincente Minnelli’s Meet Me in St Louis. And it’s been a staple in my family over the Thanksgiving weekend for as long as I can remember. This 1944 nostalgic ode to Americana is an idealistic vision of the Good Old Days. Who knows, perhaps this version of America never truly existed–it’s a film about the romanticized past and how we like to remember our family and the holidays. We follow the Smith family through the months leading up to the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, sharing in the Halloween tricks and treats of the incorrigible yet irresistible little Tootie (Margaret O’Brien), the innocent blush of young love of Esther (Vincente Minnelli’s glorious, magical muse Judy Garland), their Christmas heartbreaks, and the “there’s no place like home” sentiment that comes with the St. Louis Fair.

It is of course the film that gave the world the standard “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” but it also gave the world “The Trolley Song,” “The Boy Next Door” and, most important of all, a new style of musical storytelling. The reason the Smith family is so dear and warm to the viewer, is because Minnelli brought us into their lives with what was to become known as the “integrated” musical. The sounds around them are natural, fluidly leaving into the musical numbers (as the clanging of the trolley naturally flows into the toe-tapping Trolley Song–a magnificent one-take feat from a top-of-her-game Garland) and served to progress the plot, not pause it. Shot in sumptuous Technicolor, there is a dreamy quality to the film that makes one simply want to pull it close and snuggle up–which is what I’ve done, along with my mother, every year since childhood. Whenever I watch Meet Me In St. Louis, I feel like I’m going home.

What about you, dear readers: What movies most remind you of Thanksgiving?

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