Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
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Meet me in St. Louis, Louis.
Meet me at the fair.
Don't tell me the lights are shining
Any place but there.
We will dance the hoochie coochie.
I will be your tootsie wootsie
If you will meet me in St. Louis, Louis.
Meet me at the fair.
--by Kerry Mills and Andrew B. Sterling (1904)
MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944) was a landmark among movie
musicals. First, it was a period piece set in the American Midwest at the
turn of the century. Second, its plot didn't revolve around Broadway or
show business or show people, concentrating instead on a typical upper-middle
class family. And third, the songs and dances were so well integrated into
the plot of the film--yes, a musical with a plot--that they actually advanced
the storyline and revealed the personalities of the characters. The
characters sang and danced because they felt like it, not because the script
called for it, and the atmosphere this creates for the story is beyond anything
seen in a musical before.Credit for MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS's achievements is
all-encompassing. It features a memorable cast, from the vocal talents of Judy
Garland to the veteran caricatures of Harry
Davenport, Marjorie Main, Chill
Wills, Mary Astor and Leon Ames, and
the memorable performances of youngsters Margaret
O'Brien and Joan Carroll. Irving Breecher and Fred F. Finklehoffe
adapted a marvelous screenplay from Sally Benson's autobiographical Kensington
Stories. Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin contributed a number of wonderful
tunes, Irene Sharaff took full advantage of the setting in designing her period
costumes, and George Folsey earned an Oscar nomination for his Technicolor
cinematography. And overseeing it all, director Vincente Minnelli and
veteran MGM musical producer Arthur
Freed succeeded in pulling everything together to create a nostalgic piece
of Americana that continues to transcend the years.
The year is 1903 and St. Louis teenager Esther Smith (Judy
Garland) develops a crush on "The Boy Next Door," John Truett (Tom
Drake), who just moved into town. The complication is that although she
lives at 5135 Kensington Ave. and he lives at 5133, they've never met.
So Esther and her older sister Rose (Lucille Bremer) throw a going-away
party for their brother Lon (who is off to Princeton) as
an excuse to invite John over.
And quite a lively party it is. Esther's youngest
sister Tootie (Margaret O'Brien)
even sneaks downstairs and gets to join the fun, singing "Under the Bamboo
Tree" and dancing a cakewalk with Esther, delighting their guests.
Bamboo Tree" (clip) sung by
Judy Garland and Margaret
O'Brien (a .MP3 file courtesy Rhino Records).
(For help opening this file, visit the plug-ins
- "Personally, I wouldn't marry a man who proposed to me over an
- "My dear, when you get to be my age you'll find there are more
important things in life than boys." --Rose.
- "Mrs. Smith, if I have to keep lying for your girls, I'm going to
need more money." --Katie.
- "Wasn't I lucky to be born in my favorite city?" --Tootie.
- "Personally, I think I have too much bloom." --Esther.
- "That Welsh rarebit was ginger peachy." --John.
- "Well, certainly is dark in here with the lights off."
- "No, it wasn't the street car. It was John Truett. He
tried to kill me!" --Tootie.
- "It's no worse than football practice, except it's better with a
- "If you're not busy tomorrow night, would you beat me up
- "You know, you've got a mighty strong grip for a boy."
- "It'll take me at least a week to dig up all my dolls in the
- "I've worked all my life to be a senior." --Esther.
- "Money. I hate, loathe, despise and abominate money!"
- "Aren't you afraid to stay here alone with a criminal?" --Mr.
- "You know, suits are like men. They like to step out every
once in a while with a pretty dress." --Grandpa.
When the party is over, John stays behind to help Esther put out the
lights, and as the gas light dims, John and Esther spark "Over the
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