william steig drawing

Judy Garland

Race in Film: Meet Me in St. Louis

As you have learned in the previous post, I adore Meet Me in St. Louis. I adore the Trolley Song and I adore many of the other musical numbers the film offers. This is one of them. Margaret O’Brien plays Tootie, the mischievous baby of the Smith family, who wishes to show off for her sister Esther’s (Judy Garland) party guests. The song, “Under the Bamboo Tree” is fabulous and allows the audience to fawn all over O’Brien. This is her scene. Garland is simply supporting. However, if we listen closely to the lyrics of the song they sing, we may pause in our enjoyment:

Meet Me in St. Louis

This clip is from the 1944 MGM technicolor smorgasbord Meet Me in St. Louis directed by total genius Vincente Minnelli and produced by that musical making powerhouse Arthur Freed. I know I normally don’t mention producers, but if we’re talking about musicals of the 40s and 50s, and we are, we’ve got to include the Freed. The film follows a family’s adventures, trials, and minor tribulations in St. Louis, Missouri before the 1904 World’s Fair. It stars Judy Garland, Lucille Bremer, Leon Ames, the lovely Mary Astor, the always comforting even when prickly Harry Davenport, and child star Margaret O’Brien.