AFI Movie Club: MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS – American Film Institute

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AFI Movie Club: MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS is ranked as one of the greatest movie musicals of all time – with “The Trolley Song” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” landing on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs list of the greatest movie songs in cinematic history. 

Watch Mary-Louise Parker announce today’s film.

Movie Trivia about MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS

DID YOU KNOW?  

Writer Sally Benson’s story first appeared in The New Yorker magazine as 12 installments published under the collective title “5135 Kensington,” the fictional address of the Smiths’ house. After she sold MGM the rights in early 1942 and was hired to work on the screenplay, Benson published the stories as a novel, titled “Meet Me in St. Louis.” Each chapter of the novel covered a month of the year. 

DID YOU KNOW?  

Sally Benson’s story was based on her own experiences growing up in St. Louis. “Tootie” was based on Benson, while “Esther” was inspired by her older sister. 

DID YOU KNOW?  

George Cukor was first hired to direct the picture but had to bow out after he was drafted into the Army. Vincente Minnelli – who later directed GIGI, FATHER OF THE BRIDE and AN AMERICAN IN PARIS – took over for Cukor. 

DID YOU KNOW?  

Dottie Ponedel was assigned as Judy Garland’s personal makeup artist for MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS. Ponedel, who changed Garland’s onscreen look for the picture, became her regular makeup artist for the remainder of her career at MGM. 

DID YOU KNOW?  

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS was the first of five films on which director Vincente Minnelli and Judy Garland worked together. The other four films were THE CLOCK, ZIEGFELD FOLLIES, TILL THE CLOUDS ROLL BY and THE PIRATE. The pair were also married from 1945 through 1951. 

DID YOU KNOW?  

By the time MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS had its national release, Judy Garland’s “The Trolley Song” ranked #1 on the Hit Parade radio show.  

DID YOU KNOW? 

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS composer Ralph Blane needed some inspiration when writing “The Trolley Song,” so he went to the local library where he found a photo from 1903 of a trolley with the caption “Clang, Clang, Clang Went the Trolley” on it – words that he incorporated into a musical number. The song went on to be nominated for an Academy Award®.   

Learn more at the AFI Catalog

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

– MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS opened five months after D-Day. How is the presence of World War II felt throughout the film?  

-What is your favorite classic Judy Garland film and why? 

-What about the film’s structure makes it unique? 

-Why are the film’s notable moments tied to holidays? 

-What is the significance of the World’s Fair in both the film and in the real world? 

-What image does MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS create of an American family? What has changed since the film’s release – and what remains the same? What aspects are universal and what is specific to the family’s class and station? 

-How does the film depict nostalgia? What additional layers of nostalgia are added now that the film itself in more than half a century old? 

-How does the film balance comedy and drama, hope and melancholy? 

-There are a number of memorable songs in MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS. Which is your favorite? 

-What is it about MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS that makes it still resonate with audiences even after 75 years? 

-How does the vivid Technicolor design of MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS help enhance the emotion and story of the movie? 

-How would you rate MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS? 

In this exclusive AFI Archive video, Liza Minnelli talks about her mother Judy Garland and father Vincente Minnelli meeting on the set of MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS: 

New to AFI Movie Club? Want to learn more?

AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

Learn more in our FAQ section.

 

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