Seeing as it’s Christmas Eve, it’s time to review my favorite Christmas movie for “All Good Things”. Today I’m going to do Vincente Minnelli’s indelible masterpiece “Meet Me In St Louis” starring Judy Garland in one of the most preeminent musicals of all time.
Judy Garland lights up the screen in this romantic musical. With an array of show stopping tunes, including “The Trolley Song”, “The Boy Next Door” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” audiences are bound to be enchanted by this laudable musical extravaganza. Set in St Louis in 1903, the months leading up to the 1904’s World Fair. The film follows the story of the Smith family who has been living a life of opulence and have resided in St Louis for all their life. Esther Smith ( Judy Garland ) is the second oldest daughter of five children, and is wildly beguiled by boys. When John Truett ( Tom Drake ) moves in next door, Esther contiguously becomes infatuated by him and is interested in getting to know him. Although John has been living next door for three weeks he doesn’t notice her at first, and doesn’t know that she even exists. However Esther finally gets to become acquainted with John at a party in which the Smith’s host. Even though Esther tries to pursue a relationship, things don’t quite go as planned, but John appreciates Esther and later comments that she has a “mighty strong grip for a girl”. It’s not until Halloween night that Esther and John share their first kiss, but at first Esther runs to John’s house to bash him after Esther’s little sister Tootie ( Margaret O’Brien ) calumniates John after returning home injured. Later Tootie confesses the truth and admits that John was trying to protect Tootie and her sister Agnes after being involved in a perilous prank. Upon hearing the real story, Esther immediately runs next door to apologize to John and conciliate and kiss. During that same night Mr. Smith ( Leon Ames ) arrives home and announces that he is being transferred to New York for business and that the family will have to move to New York. Aghast with the news, the Smith’s are reluctant about the move and concerned about missing the World’s Fair which is suppose to be even more spectacular that year.
“Meet Me In St Louis” remains my favorite Christmas movie to this day. Although some might say that this is not primarily known as a Christmas movie, but the film highlights some of the most celebrated Christmas themes, most notably Judy’s inimitable rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” in where she sings to Margaret O’Brien. Nobody can sing that song as well as Judy, nor can they put as much emotion into one song like she did. Also the film features a stellar cast including Margaret O’Brien, Mary Astor and Leon Ames in which happens to be my favorite performance of his.
Margaret O’Brien’s mother wanted more money for her to play “Tootie” in the film. The studio then cast the young daughter of a 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. O’Brien 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.
Vincente Minnelli and Judy Garland met on this movie, and married soon afterwards. Minnelli was the director for the film. Garland claimed she married him because she felt extremely beautiful during the film.
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.
Esther Smith: “I’m going to let John Truett kiss me tonight.”
Rose Smith: “Esther Smith.”
Esther Smith: “Well, if we’re going to get married, I may as well start it.”
Rose Smith: “Nice girls don’t let men kiss them until after they’re engaged. Men don’t want the bloom rubbed off.”
Esther Smith: “Personally, I think I have too much bloom. Maybe that’s the trouble with me.”
Esther Smith: “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.”
Judy Garland: Born Frances Ethel Gumm on June 10th, 1922 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Died: June 22nd, 1969 in Chelsea, London. Aged 47. Cause of death: Barbiturate overdose.
Margaret O’Brien: Born Angela Maxine O’Brien on January 15th, 1937 in San Diego, California.