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Meet Me in St. Louis


DVD review of Meet Me in St. Louis – starring Judy Garland, directed by Vincent Minelli – one of the best musicals of the 20th Century

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) starring Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, Mary Astor

How do you measure the power of a movie musical?   In the case of Meet Me in St. Louis, it can be measured in decades — I first saw Meet Me in St. Louis in college, as part of a class on movie musicals, and at this moment I can visualize highlights of the movie in my mind as clear as day — Judy Garland singing “clang, clang, clang went the trolley …” (better known as The Trolley Song), a tear-inducing rendition of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas as Judy Garland sings to her “younger sister”  Margaret O’Brien, and the climax where the father of the family (Leon Ames) makes a climatic decision that affects the entire family.

The basic plot is as follows: set in St. Louis in the 1890’s, a young girl, Esther Smith (played very well by Judy Garland) is on the verge of becoming a young woman, against the background of her family – a ‘precocious’ younger sister (played by Margaret O’Brien), her loving mother (Mary Astor) and father, and the “boy next door”.   The conflict in the movie comes from the father being offered a promotion, which would involve them moving away from their beloved home in St. Louis to New York City, separating them from their friends and family, and separating Judy Garland’s character from her first serious boyfriend — all before the World’s Fair would come to St. Louis.

Set against this background, there’s room for character development, some wonderful musical numbers, and a resolution to the conflict.   It’s not an end-of-the-world conflict, but the sort of thing that I could understand then, and that I can understand my daughters’ going through now.   In short, it’s the normal sort of everyday human stress that everyone can relate to.   It’s a wonderful movie, one that I love, and one that I recommend strongly.

If you’re a fan of musicals like me, one of the best things is the music — and Meet Me in St. Louis has a plethora of great songs:

Editorial review of Meet Me in St. Louis, courtesy of Amazon.com

Amazon.com essential video — Meet Me in St. Louis

One of the finest American musicals, this 1944 film by Vincente Minnelli is an intentionally self-contained story set in 1903, in which a happy St. Louis family is shaken to their roots by the prospect of moving to New York, where the father has a better job pending. Judy Garland heads the cast in what amounts to a splendid, end-of-an-era story that nicely rhymes with the onset of the 20th century. The film is extraordinarily alive, the characters strong, and the musical numbers are so splendidly part of the storytelling that you don’t feel the film has stopped for an interlude. —Tom Keogh

Product Description of Meet Me in St. Louis

St. Louis 1903. The well-off Smith family has four beautiful daughters, including Esther and little Tootie. 17-year old Esther has fallen in love with the boy next door who has just moved in, John. He however, barely notices her at first. The family is shocked when Mr. Smith reveals that he has been transfered to a nice position in New York, which means that the family has to leave St. Louis and the St. Louis Fair.

Funny movie quotes from Meet Me in St. Louis

Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): Sure, don’t mind what happens to your family. At a time like this you think about the chickens.

Agnes Smith (Joan Carroll): Katie, where’s my cat?
Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): I don’t know … a little while ago, she got in my way and I kicked her down the cellar steps. I could hear her spine hitting on every step.
Agnes Smith (Joan Carroll): Oh, if you killed her, I’ll kill you! I’ll stab you to death in your sleep, then I’ll tie your body to two wild horses until you’re pulled apart.
Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): Oh, won’t that be terrible, now? There’s your cat.

[about her doll]
— €˜Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): Poor Margeretha, I’ve never seen her look so pale.
Mr. Neely the Iceman (Chill Wills): The sun oughta do her some good.
— €˜Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): I suspect she won’t live through the night, she has four fatal diseases.
Mr. Neely the Iceman (Chill Wills): And it only takes one.
— €˜Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): But she’s going to have a beautiful funeral, in a cigar box my Papa gave me, all wrapped up in silver paper.
Mr. Neely the Iceman (Chill Wills): That’s the way to go, if you have to go.
— €˜Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): Oh, she has to go.

Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): Money. I hate, loathe, despise and abominate money.
Mr. Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames): You also spend it.

Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Oh, Katie, they were just little white lies.
Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): A lie’s a lie. Dressin’ it in white don’t help it. And just why was I lying this time? Why must we have dinner an hour early?
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Because Rose is expecting — €¦
Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): Now don’t go blaming your sister.
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Blaming her? Why, we’re doing this for her. You know Rose’s problem. Warren Sheffield has been writing to her for six months without one word that even smells like a proposal.
Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): What’s that got to do with having dinner an hour early?
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Warren is telephoning Rose long-distance from New York at half-past six.
Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): Long-distance?
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Yes, and if the whole family is sitting here drinking in every word, she may be loathe to say the things a girl’s compelled to say to get a proposal out of a man. If that man, unfortunately, is Warren Sheffield.
Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): Personally, I wouldn’t marry a man who proposed to me over an invention.
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Well, we can’t be too particular. While we love Rose, the brutal fact is that, well, she isn’t getting any younger.
Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): There’s the poor old maid now!

Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): Would it start a minor revolution in this household if dinner was served an hour early today?
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): Mr. Smith hates to eat early on a hot day.
Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): Eating early on a hot day gives you more time to digest your food before retiring. Besides, I’m due at my sister’s at seven o’clock on a family matter.
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): Is there something wrong with your sister?
Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): She’s having trouble with her husband. Him bein’ a man.
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): Well, eating early is all right with me, but you’ll have to explain it to Mr. Smith.
Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): Oh, he won’t mind, seein’ as how tonight’s corn beef night.

Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Meeting him across the lawn for the first time would be so ordinary. I don’t want to be just introduced to him. I want it to be something strange and romantic and something I’ll always remember.

Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): Rose, Esther, the water’s hot. We’re eating early tonight, so if you’re going to wash your hair, you better do it now.
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): All right, Mama. Es, why are we eating early?
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Well, you certainly don’t want the whole family sitting there drinking in every word while a man proposes to you long-distance.
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): Proposes? I don’t see why you think Warren’s going to propose to me.
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Well, why else would he be calling you long-distance? Do you know what it costs?
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): I’m not even sure I’ll be in. My dear, when you get to be my age, you’ll find there are more important things in life than boys!

Agnes Smith (Joan Carroll): I can’t get hungry till it gets dark.
Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): Dinner’s at five-thirty. You can eat blind-folded!
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): We have to be out of the dining room by six-thirty. Warren Sheffield is telephoning Rose from New York. And Rose, if I were you, I wouldn’t committ myself one way or another. After all …
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): Mama, for goodness sakes!
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): After all, we know very little about him. Why, we haven’t even met his folks.
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): It seems to me that one little phone call is causing an awful lot of excitement in this family!
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): Besides, you’re entirely too young and I don’t think your father will allow it.
Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): Mrs. Smith, if I’m going to keep lying to your daughters, I’ll have to ask for more money.
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): Now, remember, not a word of this to your papa. You know how he plagues the girls about their beaus.
Agnes Smith (Joan Carroll): Everybody knows but Papa?
Grandpa: Your papa’s not supposed to know. It’s enough we’re letting him work hard every day to support the whole flock of us. He can’t have everything.

Rose Smith, Esther Smith (Judy Garland): [singing] Meet me in St. Louie, Louie, meet me at …
Mr. Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames): For heaven’s sake, stop that screeching!
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): We’re sorry, Papa.
Mr. Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames): The fair won’t open for seven months, and that’s all anybody ever sings about or talks about. I wish they would all meet at the fair and leave me alone.

Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Papa, if losing a case depresses you so, why don’t you quit practicing law and go into another line of business?
Mr. Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames): That’s a good idea. Starting tomorrow, I intend to play first base for the Baltimore Orioles. I’m sorry, Anna, if I was a little bombastic.
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): That’s all right, dear, you’ll feel better once you’ve had your dinner.
Mr. Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames): I suppose so, but right now I’m going to soak in that cool bathtub for one solid hour.
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): But that’s impossible. Dinner’s being served in five minutes.
Mr. Alonzo Smith: It’s only five twenty-five, not six twenty-five.
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): We’ve planned on eating an hour early tonight.
Mr. Alonzo Smith: Well, the plans have just been changed. I’m taking a bath.
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): We’re eating early for Katie’s sake. Family trouble. She wants to go over there as soon as we’ve finished eating. Her sister’s fighting with her husband.
Mr. Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames): I see. And I suppose they’ll stop fighting if I don’t take a bath?
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): Now she’s been with us for ten years, and she never asks favors. We don’t want to risk losing her.
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): No, nowadays you can’t get a maid for less than twelve dollars a month.
Mr. Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames): I don’t care if we have to pay a maid fifteen dollars a month! Dinner’s at six-thirty, and if Katie wants to hand in her notice, she can reach me in the bathtub!

Agnes Smith (Joan Carroll): Rose, it’s six-thirty and Warren hasn’t called yet.
‘Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): Maybe he found another girl.
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): Quiet, you two.
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): Mama, I assure you that I’m not the slightest bit sensitive about Warren Sheffield.
Grandpa: The queen has spoken.
Alonzo ‘€˜Lon’ Smith Jr.: I suppose Warren’s too young, too. Every fellow I introduce her to is too young.
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): Now, listen. Your papa will be down in a minute, and if we all eat quickly, we may still get out of here before the call comes through.
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Warren is twenty-one and I think that’s a perfect age.
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): He’s practically a child.
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): Your father was twenty when we were married.
Grandpa: We gave him the bachelor dinner the night before. He almost missed the wedding!

‘€˜Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): Papa, we buried Margeretha today, and you missed all the fun.
Mr. Alonzo Smith: Oh, I wouldn’t say that. I’ve had a pretty full day. Tootie, remind me to spank you right after dinner.
‘€˜Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): Yes, Papa.
Mr. Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames): Lord, we thank thee for the bountiful blessing we are about to receive. Amen.
‘€˜Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): Agnes, if I forget to remind Papa, you remind me.
Agnes Smith (Joan Carroll): All right.

Mr. Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames): Ah, corn beef and cabbage. Katie, I could smell that cabbage when I got off the trolley.
Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): Cabbage has a cabbage smell.

Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): What did you say, Warren?
Warren Sheffield: Nothing. I was waiting for you to talk.
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): Oh. Well, did you want to discuss anything in particular?
Warren Sheffield: What?
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): I said, was there anything special you wanted to ask me?
Warren Sheffield: I can’t hear you, Rose.
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): That’s funny. I can hear you plainly.
Warren Sheffield: Isn’t this great? Here I am in New York and there you are in St. Louis and it’s just like you’re in the next room.
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): What was that?
Warren Sheffield: I said, it’s just like you’re in the next room! Uh, Rose, I hope you don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say.
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): Yes?
Warren Sheffield: I don’t think you better mention this call to anyone.

Mr. Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames): Anna, I’m curious, just when was I voted out of this family?

Esther Smith (Judy Garland): I’m going to let John Truett kiss me tonight.
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): Esther Smith.
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Well, if we’re going to get married, I may as well start it.
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): Nice girls don’t let men kiss them until after they’re engaged. Men don’t want the bloom rubbed off.
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Personally, I think I have too much bloom. Maybe that’s the trouble with me.

‘Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): We’ll fix him fine. It’ll serve him right for poisoning cats … He buys meat and then he buys poison and then he puts them all together.
Agnes Smith (Joan Carroll): And then he burns the cats at midnight in his furnace. You could smell the smoke …
‘Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): …and Mr. Braukoff was beating his wife with a red hot poker … and Mr. Braukoff has empty whiskey bottles in his cellar.

Esther Smith (Judy Garland): John Truett. I’ve come here to ask you something — €¦ What do you mean hitting a five-year-old child?  The next time you want to hit somebody, pick on somebody your own size. If there’s anything I hate, loathe, despise, and abominate, it’s a bully.
[punches and kicks him]

[John Truett & Esther shakes hands]
John Truett: You’ve got a mighty strong grip for a girl.

[after John & Esther kiss]
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): You’ve got a mighty strong grip for a boy.

‘€˜Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): Here comes the invalid. I have to have two kinds of ice cream. I’m recuperating.
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): If I ever catch you fibbing again like you did about John Truett, I’ll give you something to recuperate about.

[When the family finds out that they are moving to New York City permanently]
‘€˜Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): It’ll take me at least a week to dig up all my dolls in the cemetery.

Esther Smith (Judy Garland): It’s our last dance in St. Louis. I feel like I’m going to cry.

Esther Smith (Judy Garland): [singing] Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let your heart be light. Next year all our troubles will be out of sight.

[after John tells Esther he couldn’t pick up his tuxedo from the tailor because he was busy playing basketball]
John Truett: This is a fine going away present I’m giving you for Christmas. I’ll bet you really hate me.
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Oh, no, John, I don’t hate you! I just hate basketball!

[about the pronunciation of  “€œSt. Louis”€]
Mr. Neely the Iceman (Chill Wills): Well, I got a cousin who spells it the same way, and we call him “Louie”€.
‘Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): He’s isn’t a city though, is he?
Mr. Neely the Iceman (Chill Wills): No …
‘Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): Is he a saint?
Mr. Neely the Iceman (Chill Wills): Uh, no.
‘€˜Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): Then there’s no comparison.

[after hearing Mr. Smith fall down the stairs]
‘€˜Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): Now I remember where I left my other skate!

Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): Anybody want dessert?
Mr. Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames): Dessert? What happened to dinner?
Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): I didn’t think anybody could eat meat on a hot day like this!

[talking on the telephone]
Warren Sheffield: Isn’t this great? Here I am in New York, and there you are in St. Louis, and it’s just like you’re in the next room!
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): What was that?
Warren Sheffield: [yelling] I said, IT’S JUST LIKE YOU’RE IN THE NEXT ROOM!
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): Oh.

Warren Sheffield: [on the telephone with Rose] Wait, Rose! We still have … 36 more seconds!
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): I have an engagement. I think I can hear Joe’s voice, now.
Grandpa: [lifts the tablecloth and looks under the table] Good evening, Joe!

Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): Agnes Smith, you’re nothing less than a murderer. You could have killed dozens of people!
Agnes Smith (Joan Carroll): Oh, Rose, you’re so stuck up.

Johnny Tevis: Tootie, if you don’t hit Mr. Braukoff in the face with flour and say “I hate you”€, the Banshee will haunt you forever!

Grandpa: [moaning] Ohhhhhhh.
Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): What was that?
Grandpa: Here are your sacks of flour.
[Hand them to Tootie and Agnes]
Grandpa: You couldn’t get me out on a night like this for a million dollars!
Agnes Smith (Joan Carroll): Did anyone hear a noise just now?
Grandpa: Did it sound like this?
[moans again]
Grandpa: Ohhhhhh?
Agnes Smith (Joan Carroll): Uh-huh.
Grandpa: [Shakes his head] I didn’t hear it.
Grandpa: If you wet the flour before you throw it, it makes it harder for the victim to remove it.

Agnes Smith (Joan Carroll): Rose, what did you get me for Christmas?
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): You’ll find out tomorrow.
Agnes Smith (Joan Carroll): I hope it’s a hunting knife!

John Truett: Wow, that’s nice perfume.
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Do you like it? It’s Essence of Violet. I only take it out on special occasions
John Truett: Exactly the kind my grandmother wears.

Grandpa: You’ll all be safe with me; I’ve got twelve guns in my room!

[last lines]
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): I can’t believe it. Right here where we live – right here in St. Louis.

Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): Mrs. Smith, who are these boys?
Agnes Smith (Joan Carroll): It’s me, Katie, it’s Agnes!
Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): Saints preserve us, it is! You had me fooled!
‘€˜Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): Mama, we fooled her!
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): Well, if you can fool our Katie, you can fool anyone.
Katie the Maid (Marjorie Main): Agnes, I thought you were a drunken ghost.
Agnes Smith (Joan Carroll): But I am. Tootie’s a horrible ghost, and I’m a terrible drunken ghost.
‘Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): She was murdered in a den of thieves, and I died of a broken heart. I’ve never even been buried because everyone’s scared to come near me.

Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): Thank you for dropping me off, Colonel Darly.
Col. Darly (Hugh Marlowe): It’s my pleasure, Miss Smith.
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): I’m sure the ice cream would have melted if it weren’t for your thoughtfulness.
Col. Darly (Hugh Marlowe): Glad to be of service. Good night.
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): Wouldn’t you like to come in? There’s plenty of ice cream, and I’m sure my folks would love to meet you.
Col. Darly (Hugh Marlowe): Thank you, Miss Smith, but some other time.

Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): Oh, Es, isn’t he simply enchanting? And so mature!
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Well, how did it happen? Where did you meet?
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): I was coming out of the shop and he was coming in. We bumped into each other!
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Accidentally?
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): Almost!

Grandpa: That doctor must be walking!
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): Should I call Papa at his office?
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): Oh, heavens no, don’t call your father! What could he do? There, there, Tootie, darling.
‘€˜Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): He tried to kill me …
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): Now tell Mommy what happened.
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): It was the streetcar. I think it hit her.
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): It must have knocked her onto the sidewalk, didn’t it, Tootie?
‘€˜Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): No, it wasn’t a streetcar. It was John Truett. He tried to kill me.
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): John Truett hit you?
‘€˜Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): He tried to kill me, and when I screamed, he ran away.
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Tootie Smith, that’s a monstrous falsehood. John Truett would never hit a girl, least of all my sister.

‘€˜Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): I wanna sleep right here.
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): Of course you will, darling.
‘Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): And I wanna wear Esther’s nightgown.
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): I’ll get it for you right now.
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): I hate to think about what your papa’s going to do when he hears about all this. He may strike that Truett boy.
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): I’ll do that, Mama.
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): All right. And I’ll get you some ice cream and cake, Tootie.
‘€˜Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): [singing] Feed a cold, starve a fever. I was drunk last night, dear Mother, I was drunk the night before. But if you’ll forgive me, Mother, I’ll never get drunk anymore!
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): I got him! He didn’t even have a chance to scratch me.
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): Why, your dress is torn.
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Oh, that must’ve happened while he was trying to hold me off. I bit him!
;€˜Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): [clapping her hands] I bit him, too!

‘Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): And I’m taking all my dolls, even the dead ones. I’m taking everything.
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Of course you are. I’ll help you pack them myself. You won’t have to leave anything behind. Except your snow people, of course. We’d look pretty silly trying to get them on the train, wouldn’t we?

‘€˜Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): Nobody’s going to have them, not if we can’t take them to New York! I’d rather kill them if we can’t take them with us!
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): Oh, Tootie, don’t cry. Don’t cry, it’s all right. You can build other snow people in New York.
‘€˜Tootie’ Smith (Margaret O’Brien): No, you can’t! You can’t do any of the things that I can do in St. Louis!
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): No, no, Tootie, you’re wrong. New York is a wonderful town. Everybody dreams about going there, but we’re luckier than lots of families because we’re really going. Wait till you see the nice new home we’re going to have, and the loads and loads of new friends we’re going to make. But the main thing is, Tootie, that we’re all going to be together, just like we’ve always been. That’s what really counts. We could be happy anywhere as long as we’re together.

Warren Sheffield: Rose Smith, we can’t go on like this any longer. I’ve positively decided we’re going to get married at the earliest opportunity and I don’t want to hear any arguments. That’s final. I love you. Merry Christmas.
Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer): Merry Christmas
Mr. Alonzo Smith: Anna, who is that boy?
Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor): Now Lonny he’s a very fine young man. We’ll talk about it later.
Grandpa: That young man is so excited he’s liable to leave on his honeymoon without Rose.

Grandpa: Excuse me, young man, but in the great country of China, when a stranger admires one of your possessions, it’s common courtesy to offer it to him.
Kid at the ball: That’s very interesting …
Grandpa: Well I spent many years in China, and if you want me to feel thoroughly at home, you might offer me your partner.
Kid at the ball: Huh?
Grandpa: Spoken like a true gentleman.

John Truett: Gee, Ms. Esther. I hope you don’t mind me sounding presumptuous, but you don’t need any beauty sleep.
Esther Smith (Judy Garland): What a nice compliment.

Trivia for Meet Me in St. Louis

  • Producer-lyricist Arthur Freed dubbed the singing for Leon Ames.
  • Van Johnson was supposed to play John Truett, but Tom Drake took over.
  • First intended as a duet for Alfred Drake and Joan Roberts, the Rodgers and Hammerstein song, — €œBoys and Girls Like You and Me — € had been discarded from their 1943 Broadway triumph, — €œOklahoma! — € MGM producer Arthur Freed then purchased screen rights to the song, planning to interpolate it into the film score as a — €˜Judy Garland (I)’ solo, but her rendition was cut from the picture. Miss Garland’s Decca album of songs from the film included — €œBoys and Girls Like You and Me — € in an arrangement similar to her MGM prerecording. Later, the ballad was chosen to be crooned by Frank Sinatra to Betty Garrett in another Arthur Freed production, Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949), but again the tune was deleted. The footage of Judy singing the song to Tom Drake no longer exists, but on the Warner Home Video special-edition DVD, the original audio recording is played over Garland-Drake production stills. Only about two or three seconds of footage from this sequence may be seen on the trailer in which Tom Drake’s name is screened. It shows a medium shot of Tom Drake, and in the background, you can see some buildings supposedly under construction as they would appear in the blue hour before nightfall. Actually, it was just a backdrop for the scene that was filmed on a sound stage.
  • Vincente Minnelli and Judy Garland met on this movie, and married soon afterwards.
  • Director Vincente Minnelli worked hard to make the movie as accurate to the times as possible. Not only did its novelist, Sally Benson, give explicit directions as to the decor of her home down to the last detail, but the movie’s costume designer took inspiration for many of the movies costumes right out of the Sears & Roebuck catalog from the time period.
  • The movie was based on the real-life experiences of novelist Sally Benson. The character of Tootie was based on her own childhood; she was called Tootie as a little girl.
  • The Trolley Song was inspired by a children’s picture book. The book had a page with a picture of a trolley car, captioned “Clang! Clang! Clang! went the jolly little trolley.”
  • The book on which the film is based originally ran as a weekly feature in the New Yorker Magazine in 1942. For the film many of the actions attributed to Tootie were actually done in real life by Benson’s sister Agnes. Also in reality Benson’s father moved the family to NYC and they never did come back for the World’s Fair.
  • The success of the film had encouraged MGM to create further movies involving the Smith family and was to be based on further tales of Sally Benson’s family. MGM wanted to make sort of a deluxe color group of serials in the spirit of the popular Andy Hardy series. A sequel named Meet Me in Manhanttan was in the works in which the Smith family actually moved to New York. This happened in real life to Sally Benson’s family. However, the movie never got out of planning stages and was never made.
  • Judy Garland scoffed at the idea of portraying yet another teenager (she was 21 when filming began) and wanted nothing to do with the film. Her mother even went to MGM chief Louis B. Mayer on her behalf. However, Vincente Minnelli convinced her to play the part of Esther Smith, and Judy later fell in love with the story. In her later years she considered it one of her favorite roles.
  • “The Trolley Song” € was ranked #26 and — €œHave Yourself a Merry Little Christmas — € was ranked #72 by the American Film Institute in 2004 on the 100 Greatest Songs in American Films list.
  • In “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”€, Judy Garland refused to sing the grim original line, “Have yourself a merry little Christmas, it may be your last” € to little Margaret O’Brien. The version she sang is the one everyone knows today.
  • Judy Garland missed 13 days of work causing the production taking 70 days to complete from the original budgeted 58 days.
  • Margaret O’Brien’s mother wanted more money for her to play ‘€œTootie’ in the film. The studio then cast the young daughter of lighting man working on the film, going so far as to even fit her with costumes. They then changed their minds and decided to go ahead and cast Margaret O’Brien. She was playing a scene when that lighting man intentionally dropped a heavy spotlight to the sound stage, narrowly missing the young actress. He was taken away and actually admitted to a mental institution for a time for his deed.
  • The Halloween sequence on the street outside of the Smith home was primarily filmed from a low angle, so that the movie audience would experience the Halloween night on screen as though they were seeing it through the eyes of a child. When Tootie (Margaret O’Brien) embarks on her adventure to the Braukoff home, the houses appear to be large and looming.
  • The street on which the Smith home stood was built specifically for — €œMeet Me in St. Louis. — € Located on MGM’s vast Backlot #3 that was at Jefferson and Overland Boulevards in Culver City,it was known at the studio as — €œSt. Louis Street — € and all of the houses that were on it were used in various film and television shows throughout the next 27 years, until Lot 3 was demolished to make way for an apartment and condominium project. Even in 1970, the last year of Lot 3’s existence, the Smith home still looked like it did in 1944, minus the set dressings, of course.
  • Hugh Martin of Martin and Blaine – composers of the film’s original songs, did not enjoy his MGM experience. Although Martin greatly admired Garland and the talent of those he was working with, he did not appreciate Producer Arthur Freed’s volatile temperament, or the one-upsmanship and self important attitudes shared by the MGM hierarchy. He has said that he found all that showing off and competing for attention — €œdepressing — €. A devout Christian, in later years he adapted — €œHave yourself a Merry Little Christmas — € into — €œHave yourself a €œBlessed Little Christmas — € for a popular Gospel singer.
  • After Tootie crashes Lon’s going-away party, Esther asks her if she would like to recite “Did You Ever See a Rabbit Climb a Tree?” for the company. This is a nonsense poem by L. Frank Baum, author of  The Wizard of Oz (from “Father Goose: His Book”, 1899).
  • This film was a box-office smash, grossing more money than any prior MGM release in 20 years — €”with the exception of David O. Selznick’s Gone with the Wind (1939).
  • The stage version of Meet Me In St. Louis opened at the George Gershwin Theater on November 2, 1989 and ran for 252 performances.


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