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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is an excellent classic for the whole family. Some kids, like young character Tootie, might be upset by the thought of the family having to leave their beloved home, but ultimately this is a sweet, upbeat movie that's entirely appropriate for young elementary school kids and up.
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What's the story?
MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS covers the activities of the Smith family during 1903. Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames), a banker, might need to move the family to New York. This distresses his daughters, Ether (Judy Garland) and Rose (Lucille Bremer), who have their eyes set on a couple of young men. Esther has decided to marry "the boy next door," John Pruitt (Tom Drake), even though they have not yet met, while Rose is attracted to Warren Sheffield, and a bit impatient because he has not proposed.
Is it any good?
The movie's pleasures are in the period detail, the glorious songs and the loving and nostalgic look at a time of innocence and optimism. It was a time where a long-distance call was almost as thrilling as having the World's Fair come to your very own city. We see the family over the course of a year, celebrating Halloween and Christmas, riding the ice truck in the summer and building snowmen in the winter. They face the prospect of having to leave St. Louis so that Mr. Smith can accept a promotion. They wonder whether the older girl's two boyfriends will propose. They treat each other with great loyalty and affectionate tolerance. And then they live happily ever after.
In a cast that includes Mary Astor as Smith's wife, Lucille Bremer as another Smith daughter, and Marjorie Main as the housekeeper, the most fascinating character is played by 6-year-old Margaret O'Brien, who won a special Oscar for her remarkable performance. Its songs are a heady combination of period tunes and newly minted numbers by Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin, the best of which are The Boy Next Door, The Trolley Song, and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how they would feel if they had to pick up and move to a new city, or how they felt if they did recently. The father in this movie has a hard decision to make about whether he should take the new job, even though his family doesn't want to move. What are the best reasons for going, and what are the best reasons for staying? Who should make the decision? Do you agree with what he decided? Why does Tootie knock down her snowmen? Why is she proud of being "the most horrible"? What is most special about the town you live in? Would you like to live back in the time of this movie? What would you like best about living in those days?
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