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Edwin L. Marin
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
Introducing Margaret O'Brien (Tootie) riding in the horse drawn cart with Chill Wills (Mr. Neely), this single camera sequence was filmed on the MGM sound stage in film process. The "moving background projected screen action" had been previously filmed by a second unit filming company, coordinated with extras, horse drawn and motorized vehicles moving as background action. The exterior MGM-Culver City back-lot set's background reveal the existing Culver City foothill terrain, located behind the exterior Victorian street set. Ignoring the fact that St. Louis is flat land country, the back-lot newly constructed Victorian Saint Louis street had "foothills". The "Trolley" sequence was also filmed on the same MGM sound stage in film process. The "process plates" are projected by a motion picture projector onto a "rear screen" set directly in center line with the film camera's lens. The distance between the projector and the rear screen requires approximately 200' of separation. The film process requires a huge stage for the process projector/screen set-up, which also must include the vehicle and actor's film action occurring in front of the screen projection screen. See more »
In the scene where Esther and John are turning out the lights in the house, the exterior lights representing moonlight come up faster than the interior lights are extinguished. See more »
And I'm taking all my dolls, even the dead ones. I'm taking everything.
Of course you are. I'll help you pack them myself. You won't have to leave anything behind. Except your snow people, of course. We'd look pretty silly trying to get them on the train, wouldn't we?
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This is such a sweet, wonderful movie - a slice of 1900's America that probably was never so perfect, but we would like to think that it was. The storyline is not a love story between Esther (Garland) and "The Boy Next Door" (one of the three timeless classic songs found in this movie). The storyline is really about the whole Smith family, based on an actual family who lived in St. Louis at the turn of the century. The real-life "Tootie" Smith (played by Margaret O'Brien) wrote stories of her life for the NewYorker. These stories were bought and compiled into this classic musical.
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" originated here, and has become a classic yuletide song. It has been sung a thousand times by a thousand artists, but no one could ever capture the heartfelt emotion expressed by Judy Garland. If it doesn't bring a tear to your eye as you listen to her sing the song to little Tootie, I would have to wonder if you have a heart at all.
The most fun song is "The Trolley Song" - you can even see that Judy herself had a ball singing it. That scene was done in one take.
Judy Garland never looked better in any of her films as she did in this one. Perhaps it was one of the happiest times in her life? It is well-known that she married director Vincent Minelli after this picture.
Beautifully directed, depicting with accuracy the passing of the seasons of one year in the life of the Smiths of St. Louis. What a fun, charming, movie. I could never tire of it.
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