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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
This movie is sheer delight from start to finish. I'm sure St. Louis in 1904 wasn't really the same as its depicted here...but it should have been! Only the most jaded cynic imaginable could not be charmed by this film.
The songs are perfect, the cinematography, the set direction, costumes, everything really - MGM movie magic at its best! Vincente Minelli did a superlative job of direction, and the cast simply could not be bettered. Judy Garland gives what I feel is the most relaxed and charming performance of her career, and sings like an angel, not like the jittery bundle of nerves she would become in later life. Tom Drake is very winning as the "Boy Next Door" we should all be so lucky to have. But Margaret O'Brien absolutely steals the picture as the adorable but irrepressibly morbid Tootie, a refreshing change from the normally saccharine moppets of Hollywood's golden years. Marjorie Main also swipes a scene or two as the mouthy cook, and Mary Astor and Leon Ames give sterling support as the parents. Their "make-up" scene at the piano is beautifully done.
What a wonderful antidote this movie is when you need to retreat from the harsh world and have your spirits lifted for a while.
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