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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
1940's interior sound stage and exterior set movie lighting equipment used Klegl Brothers lamp fixtures equipped with carbon-arc lamps. These lamps became famous for being so bright that it hurt the eyes of the actors, causing them to wear sun glasses during camera rehearsals. In the "Meet Me in St. Louis" after party sequence between Esther Smith (Judy Garland) and neighbor John Truett (Tom Drake), Esther asks John to stay while she turns off the rooms lighting, gas-sourced chandeliers, in the living room, dining room, entrance hallway, and main staircase. Klegl carbon-arc lamps can not be dimmed. In the 1940's, movie studios did not have dimmer boards for the movie Klegl lighting fixtures. For this sequence, to create the illusion of the set's gas light fixtures being turned off, large venetian blinds were hung in front of the carbon-arc set lighting fixtures. As Esther and John turn off each chandelier, the electrician-grip would close the Venetian blind hung in front of the set lighting lamp, hanging in the stage-set's overhead scaffolding cat-walk surrounding the set wall perimeter. Closing the Venetian blind closed off the light source creating the illusion of the chandelier being turned off. After John leaves the house, Esther's action is to ascend the staircase, where she turns the two staircase wall gas lamps back on! The electrician-grip, stationed at his assigned carbon-arc lamp, opened the Venetian blind in front of the carbon-arc lamp, creating the illusion that the staircase wall gas lamp fixture was re-lighted, lighting the staircase as Esther heads to her upstairs bedroom. See more »
It is often incorrectly claimed that an off screen male voice calls out "Hiya, Judy" (referring to actress Judy Garland instead of her character, Esther). The voice actually says "Hiya, Johnny". This refers to Tom Drake' s character, John Truett, who has been trying to catch the trolley and apparently just made it. As soon as the line is delivered Esther looks expectantly screen right but we do not see John until the end of the trolley song sequence. See more »
I'm going to let John Truett kiss me tonight.
Well, if we're going to get married, I may as well start it.
Nice girls don't let men kiss them until after they're engaged. Men don't want the bloom rubbed off.
Personally, I think I have too much bloom. Maybe that's the trouble with me.
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One of the greatest movie musicals, and thus one of the greatest American movies, "Meet Me in St. Louis" tells a story that may appear insultingly inconsequential: a happy family living in turn-of-the-century St. Louis considers moving to New York, but decides against it. Yet Vincente Minelli, working with a wonderful cast and unusually intelligent songs, takes this story and makes it the one really convincing screen refutation of Tolstoy's claim that all happy families are alike, and indeed perhaps the only fully rounded and persuasive representation of a happy family in the history of movies. From the small family conflict over the quality of homemade ketchup that begins the movie, to the agony over moving at the end, the Smiths are a collection of distinctive, vibrant and at times almost incompatible characters bound together not only by love but by a contagious, and very particular, sense of fun.
Minelli's genius for musical numbers in interior spaces--most notably the great party in the Smith home near the beginning of the movie--is complemented here by two unforgettable outdoor sequences, Judy Garland's matchless "Trolley Song" and Tootie's Halloween adventure in the neighborhood, where she shows such vulnerability, such courage,and in the end such diabolical lack of conscience that no one can fail to love her. These outdoor scenes protect "Meet in St. Louis" from the claustrophobia that so frequently limits the power of "family" dramas.
Tootie, at five, is the youngest of the five Smith children, and as played by the great child actor Margaret O'Brien, she is also the center of most of the fun. Her relationship with her older sister Esther (Judy Garland) is captivating in its joy, complexity, and ultimately in its sadness. For even though the catastrophe (!) of moving to New York is narrowly avoided, Esther will still leave home for life with the boy next door, and the powerful unity of these lucky people will ultimately give way to other claims of new love, new suffering and new duty. The happiness the Smiths knew while living together will only increase the pain of each parting. We're blessed, though, to have glimpsed their particular brand of happiness at its glorious peak.
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