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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. Written by
Composer Hugh Martin did not enjoy his experience writing the film's score. Although Martin greatly admired Judy 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 "depressing". A devout Christian, in later years he adapted "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" into "Have Yourself a "Blessed" Little Christmas" for several popular gospel singers, including Mahalia Jackson. See more »
When Warren bursts in, the distance the door is open changes. See more »
[John Truett & Esther shakes hands]
You've got a mighty strong grip for a girl.
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I don't think that there's any doubt that this is one of the best Musicals ever made. It remains a real classic and doesn't feel dated.
On the surface the story seems trivial: We follow a family through 4 seasons, getting to know them very well, laughing with them and feeling for them. The only enemy, as producer Arthur Freed put it, is New York. The threat of moving away , to leave the places you love and care for. As it is in a world like today, where people constantly moving this picture represents some ideal place of continuity many people long for.
But of course underneath the surface there are some disturbing emotions. Little Tootie (Margaret O'Brien) displays some hysterical emotions, who probably show some signs, that Kansas after all is not a perfect place. Her doll has mortal diseases, in an absolute rage she destroys snow mans.
Next to Margaret O'Briens wonderful performance (for which she won a special juvenile Oscar) the film focus of course on Judy Garland as the men-crazy Esther, who is able for the first time to display some more mature and also mischievous emotions than in her previous parts, where she often enough was the ugly duckling. But here her beauty is finally seen and wonderful photographed.
The credit for this goes to director Vincente Minelli, whose camera flows through the scenes, picking up every detail.
The supporting cast is (as in most movies made under the old studio system) full of perfect character actors, Mary Astor, Marjorie Main, Harry Davenport and Lucille Bremer in her screen debut are just a few to mention.
This movie was one of the first to connect the story with the music numbers, so that they no longer appear as showstoppers, but as part of the story. Especially memorable are "Have yourself a merry little Christmas", which surely had in the wartime some special meaning for the soldiers and their relatives at home. And of course "The Trolley Song" which is with no doubt one of the best musical numbers ever filmed (and done in an amazing single take).
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