Along with Singin’ in the Rain, classic musical Meet Me In St Louis is probably the most loved around the world. Judy Garland is Esther Smith, the second daughter of Anna and Alonzo Smith (Mary Astor and Leon Ames), who lives with her four siblings (including Tootie, played by the film-stealing Margaret O’Brien) and Grandpa (Harry Davenport) in turn-of-the century St Louis, the city that’s hosting the St Louis Exposition.
As the elder sisters begin to fall in love (Esther with next door’s John Truett, played by Tom Drake), their father comes home to announce his promotion, which means a move to New York. Distraught, all the family, from Tootie to older Rose (Lucille Bremer) try to come to terms with the upheaval but, as in all musicals, everyone enjoys a happy ending.
Garland, already famous from The Wizard of Oz , saw her fame soar in this film and also fell for the director, Vincente Minnelli – the pair married the year after the film was released and a year later, Lisa was born – and he reciprocated by making a film that is almost a love poem to her, framing her in luminous shots, making her centre screen whenever she was in action and allowing her free rein to act. Possibly a little too much free rein – her tantrums, tardiness and illnesses delayed shooting and even led Mary Astor to give her a talking to about her attitude. However, it’s impossible not to forgive her for such classics as The Trolley Song , Meet Me in St Louis and the wistful solo Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas , one of cinema’s genuine tearjerkers.
USA / MGM / 113 minutes / 1944
Writers:Irving Brecher, Fred F Finklehoffe, from Sally Benson’s novel,
Margaret O’Brien as ‘Tootie’ Smith
Judy Garland as Esther Smith
Mary Astor as Mrs. Anna Smith
Lucille Bremer as Rose Smith
Leon Ames as Mr. Alonzo Smith
Tom Drake as John Truett
Marjorie Main as Katie
Harry Davenport as Grandpa
June Lockhart as Lucille Ballard
Henry H. Daniels Jr. as Alonzo ‘Lon’ Smith Jr.
Joan Carroll as Agnes Smith
Hugh Marlowe as Col. Darly
Robert Sully as Warren Sheffield
Chill Wills as Mr. Neely
Robert Emmett O’Connor as Motorman (uncredited)
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