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Meet Me in St. Louis is a 1944 romantic musical film from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer which tells the story of four sisters living in St. Louismarker at the time of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition World's Fair in 1904.

It stars Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien, Mary Astor, Lucille Bremer, Tom Drake, Leon Ames, Marjorie Main, June Lockhart, and Joan Carroll.

The movie was adapted by Irving Brecher and Fred F. Finklehoffe from a series of short stories by Sally Benson, originally published in The New Yorker magazine and later in the novel 5135 Kensington.

The film was directed by Vincente Minnelli, who met his future wife, Judy Garland, on the set. In the film, Garland debuted the standards "The Trolley Song" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" which became hits after the film was released.

Arthur Freed, the producer of the film also wrote and performed one of the songs (see below). It was the second-highest grossing picture of the year, only behind Going My Way.


The backdrop for Meet Me in St. Louis is St. Louis, Missourimarker on the brink of the 1904 World's Fair.

The Smith family lead a comfortable middle-class life. Mr. Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames) and Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor) have four daughters: Rose (Lucille Bremer), Esther, Agnes and Tootie and a son, Lon Jr. Esther, the second eldest daughter (Judy Garland), is in love with the boy next door, John Truett (Tom Drake), although he does not notice her at first. Rose is expecting to be proposed to by Warren Sheffield (Robert Sully).

Esther finally gets to meet John when he is a guest at the Smith's house party, although her chances of romancing him don't go to plan when he tells her she uses the same perfume as his grandmother and that she has "a mighty strong grip for a girl".

At Halloween, Tootie (Margaret O'Brien) returns home injured, claiming that John Truett attacked her. Without bothering to investigate, Esther confronts John, physically attacking him and scolding him for being a "bully". When Esther returns home, Tootie confesses what really happened. John was trying to protect Tootie and Agnes (Joan Carroll) from the police after a dangerous prank went wrong. Upon learning the truth Esther immediately dashes to see John to apologize, and they share their first kiss.

Mr. Smith announces to the family that he is to be sent to New York on business and eventually they will all move. The family is devastated and upset the news of the move, especially Rose and Esther whose romances, friendships, and educational plans are threatened. Esther is also aghast because they will miss the World's Fair.

An elegant ball takes place on Christmas Eve. Esther is devastated when John cannot take her as his date due to him leaving his suit at the tailor's and being unable to get it back. But she is relieved when her grandfather (Harry Davenport) offers to take her instead. At the ball Esther fills up another girl's dance card with losers because she thinks the girl is a rival of Rose's. But when the girl turns out to be interested in Lon, Esther has to switch dance cards and dance with clumsy and awkward partners. After being rescued by Grandpa she is overwhelmed when John unexpectedly turns up after managing to retrieve his suit from the tailor's, and the pair dance together for the rest of the evening.

Mr. Smith later announces that the family will not leave St. Louis after all when he realises how much the move will affect his family. John declares his love for Esther and Warren declares his love for Rose and together they state that they will marry at the first possible opportunity. And all of the family finally are able to attend the World's Fair.


The musical score for the film was adapted by Roger Edens, who also served as an uncredited associate producer. Georgie Stoll conducted the orchestrations of Conrad Salinger.

Some of the songs in the film are from around the time of the St Louis Exposition. Others were written for the movie.


Awards and nominations

The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Color, Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture, Best Music, Song (Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin for "The Trolley Song") and Best Writing, Screenplay. Margaret O'Brien received an Academy Juvenile Award for her work that year, in which she appeared in several movies along with Meet Me in St. Louis.

The film has been deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congressmarker and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. In 2005, named it one of the 100 best movies of the last 80 years.

In 2004 the AFI ranked "The Trolley Song" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs at #26 and #76, respectively; in 2006 the film was ranked #10 on the American Film Institute's list of best musicals.


  • Judy Garland at first refused to do the film because she had played too many childish roles and wanted to play an adult. She was also afraid that Margaret O'Brien would steal the film. After a talk with Vincente Minnelli, Garland finally agreed to play the role of Esther Smith. Later, she considered the role her favorite among her films.

  • During the shooting of the large dinner scene (where one of the older sisters receives a long distance call from her beau in New York), Margaret O'Brien caused mischief on the set. She would change the cutlery around and put two napkin rings beside a plate. The prop man would say, "Please, Maggie dear," when he would liked to have shaken her.

  • The lyrics for "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" were originally different. The lyricist, Hugh Martin, wrote different lyrics, which referred to the soldiers fighting during World War Two. Judy Garland thought it too mean to sing it to Margaret O'Brien, so the lyrics were changed.

  • In order to get Margaret O'Brien to cry convincingly during a later scene in the film, her mother (untruthfully) told the actress that her dog had been run over by a car and died, which infuriated Garland.

It should be noted that two of the actors would later go on to star in "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers". Hugh Marlowe (the colonel) and Don Curtis (Dr. Terry...unbilled) would go on to make "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers".


  • Meet Me in St. Louis was remade again for television in 1966. This was a non-musical version starring Shelley Fabares, Celeste Holm, Larry Merrill, Judy Land, Rita Shaw and Morgan Brittany. It was directed by Alan D. Courtney from a script written by Sally Benson herself. This was to be a pilot for a TV series, but no network picked it up.

  • A Broadway musical based on the film was produced in 1989, with additional songs.

Source material

Benson, Sally. The New Yorker

  • "5135 Kensington: January, 1904" Jan 31, 1942 - Tootie and Grandpa visit the fairgrounds
  • "5135 Kensington: February, 1904" Feb 8, 1942 - Mr. and Mrs. Smith go out and the girls have a gay time at home
  • "5135 Kensington: March, 1904" Mar 28, 1942 - The family visits the World's Fair
  • "5135 Kensington: April, 1904" Apr 11, 1942 - Not moving to New York
  • "5135 Kensington: May, 1904" May 23, 1942 - A last look at the Fair

The Benson house at 5135 Kensington Avenue, St. Louis, Mo. [11418] no longer exists: after being sold it fell into disrepair, eventually became uninhabitable, and was demolished in 1994 [11419].

Cultural Influences

  • In the movie, Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw's assistant buys Carrie a copy of the film.
  • Also featured in the movie "The Family Stone." Suzanna watches the movie and the part where Judy Garland sings "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is shown.

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