Meet Me in St. Louis
Oct 3, 2018 | by Jessika Loucks
Meet me at the fair!
Based in the 1900’s, on a series of short stories by Sally Benson, Meet Me in St. Louis directed by the talented Vincent Minnelli would become the second highest grossing film of 1944. The short stories and the character of Tootie were based on the real-life experiences of the young Miss Benson (who was called Tootie as a little girl).
Originally, Judy Garland wanted nothing to do with the film – since once again she would be portraying a teenager when she was already a twenty-one-year-old woman. However, she changed her mind when Vincente Minnelli convinced her to play the role. Garland fell in love with the story and, when asked years later, stated that it was one of her favorite parts to play. Not only did Garland fall in love with the story, but also with Minnelli. After their meet cute on the set, the two love birds were married soon after. So, with all this love and music in the air, does this film really do an amazing job of transporting you to the 1900’s?
“Nice girls don’t let men kiss them until after they’re engaged. Men don’t want the bloom rubbed off.” – Rose Smith
The movie begins with a lively score highlighting the main theme song, “Meet Me in St. Louis.” We are first transported to the summer of 1903 where we meet the Smith family. The Smiths are an upper-middle class family who live in the namesake city. The first family member to make an appearance is Lon Smith (Henry Daniels Jr.) who comes riding up to the house on his bike and seems to be very excited about starting college. When Lon comes into the kitchen, we meet Anna Smith (Mary Astor) mother to five children and wife to lawyer Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames).
Anna is busy making dinner with their maid Katie, when Agnes (Joan Carroll) comes in soaking wet from swimming in the pond. Agnes marches upstairs and the musical begins, with the theme of the movie being the first number. During the song we meet grandpa and get our first glance at Esther (Judy Garland), who promptly runs into the house after getting dropped off by her friends after playing tennis.
Esther quickly enters the kitchen with a mission: asking Katie to make up a lie so that her mother will make dinner an hour earlier. The reason for this schedule change: her sister Rose (Lucille Bremer) is expecting a long-distance call from Warren Sheffield and wants some privacy. Enter Rose, who has just come home from the store and sees their neighbor outside – a young John Truett (Tom Drake). Rose rushes into the house looking for Esther (who is in love with John but can’t seem to get him to notice her).
“Hello, Papa, I buried Maude Rockerfeller today, and you missed all the fun.” – Tootie Smith
After a beautiful song we are sent to an ice wagon where we meet Tootie (Margaret O’Brian), the youngest of the Smith family. Tootie, while cute and full of personality, has a strange obsession with her dolls becoming sick and having to bury them. Back at the house, Alonzo comes home in a bad mood after losing a case and has no desire to eat early or deal with any joyfulness. During dinner the phone rings and Rose (who thinks that Warren is going to propose) takes the call with the whole family in the room. When Warren doesn’t propose, Rose gets off the phone frustrated and the family enjoys the rest of their dinner.
The next day Esther and John finally meet at Lons’ going away party. Her attempts at romancing John fail, but they share a small moment while he helps her turn the lights down after the party. The World’s Fair is coming and Esther, along with all her friends, are headed to the construction site. Esther is sad that John has missed the trolley but bursts out into a fun song when she realizes that he is late and running to join her on the trolley.
“You’ve got a mighty strong grip for a girl” – John Truett
It’s Halloween and shenanigans ensue. The night ends with Esther getting a kiss from John and Alonzo telling the family that he has taken a job in New York. The family is not happy at first about the news, but after some family discussions, are supportive of his decision to move by Christmas. During the beautiful Christmas season the Smith family prepares for their big move and attend the last Winter dance in St. Louis. Esther is all ready to go when John shows up and tells her that his tux is locked up in the tailor’s shop and he can’t take her. Will John and Esther be together? Will Warren propose to Rose? Will the Smith family start a new life in New York?
Content for Concern
Children are seen stealing and burning people’s property during the Halloween festivities.
The question remains: does Meet Me in St. Louis really make you feel like you have been transported to the 1900’s? Yes! The costumes, scenery and music are a wonderful and whimsical treat! So, grab yourself some candy, relax and enjoy this heart-warming story.