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The Making of Meet Me In St. Louis starring Judy Garland

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She also reportedly complained to Mary Astor, who flatly said to Judy: Suddenly, under his direction, Judy not only looked more beautiful and vibrant than ever before, but Minnelli was getting a beautifully realized understated performance from her. And whatever qualms she had about being a "teenager" or lost in the ensemble were put to rest as well. Soon Judy was entrusting Minnelli with her trust.

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But that trust came with a price. Judy would be absent from the set of St. Louis for close to 3 weeks. Initially this was due to a lack of interest in the project.

But aside from that, Judy was beginning to show signs of the strain that the previous years of overwork, malnutrition, and medications had caused. She was going through the ups and downs that addicts begin to experience when the drugs begin to take over.

Judy was never a morning person, having been raised in a Vaudeville atmosphere of late nights and late mornings. But at MGM, she was expected to be at the studio usually at 5 or 6am. And she had other commitments as well: Radio appearances; Personal appearances for the war effort; and making records for Decca Records. All of this, added to her fragile psyche and her low self esteem, created a time bomb ticking away just waiting for the time to explode.

Meet Me in St. Louis - Wikipedia

Mankiewicz saw this and suggested she go to therapy to help solve her deep emotional issues and restore her self worth. She agreed and went. But when the studio found out, they put a stop to it - not believing that one of their stars was "crazy" the world of psychoanalysis in the 's was still considered suspect and charlatan by nature. In a few short years the studio would find themselves paying for Judy to continue treatment.

Beginning in and ending inJudy Garland changed from a nervous insecure young lady to a glowing, confidant woman in command of her talent and happily exploring and learning all avenues of that talent, then back again to an insecure young lady. Louis, Kay Thompson and the rest of the legendary "Freed Unit. Arthur Freed had been assembling a platoon of personnel, mostly from Broadway, to populate his little kingdom.

These people were bright, young and talented individuals who would change the look and style of the movie musical forever. For Judy Garland, being in this atmosphere was exciting and exhilarating. She was allowed to flourish and experiment with all aspects of her performing.

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Minnelli was perfect at this time to help guide her into his world of savvy, articulate and witty people. And she would do some of her best work during this time and was, for the most part, quite happy. Louis, and although many people thought the union was all wrong, for Judy it was the right man at the right time. At least as far as her career goes. Kay Thompson was a new addition to the Freed Unit, one of the many transplants from Broadway. Kay would take Judy under her wing and develop her singing style even further than her mentor, Roger Edens had.

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This would be Judy's closest friendship to any woman in her entire life. Kay had a sophistication and style that was classy, brassy, and highly stylized. The affair with Joe Mankiewicz over he had evidently gone to the studio to argue that Judy needed professional psychiatric help and ended up walking out on his contract because Mayer and Judy's Mom wouldn't listenJudy put all of her energies into St.

Louis and her relationship with Minnelli. The end result is several wonderful performances given by Judy, most of them under Minnelli's direction. Judy Garland wasn't the only performer on the set causing problems. If you look at the timeline to this site, you'll see in great detail the constant barrage the company was under due to one illness or accident after another.

As with so many films, accidents happen. Louis was no exception. On March 31, one of the extras suffered a hit on the head by one of the light standards Click here to read about it. A cameraman was hit on the head with a piece of carbon. Joan Carroll had to be sent back to wardrobe which on a lot the size of MGM could amount to a long trek because she was given two right shoes to wear.

Their teacher, who was on the set at all times, was reportedly a formidable woman who had no qualms stopping the production because either Margaret should go home or in on instance, that it was simply too late for Joan Carroll to continue working.

Mary Jo Ellis, one of the cast members, had to be taken home due to fainting. Several cast members would be sick at one point or another. Especially since half their time was sitting around waiting for the director to set everything up for a few takes. They would entertain themselves as best they could. But those were the least of the problems that seemed to plague the set of Meet Me In St. This film seemed to be the "sickest" film on the lot - with practically everyone coming down with some sort of illness - real or imagined.

On February 2, shooting is halted as Joan is rushed to the hospital. The "ever so caring" studio places Joan on suspension - even though Arthur Freed sends her flowers and she sends him a "thank you" note. Margaret's mother is convinced that the studio is working her daughter way too hard. So on January 31, a two week period began without Margaret. Her mother feigned illness as the cause, originally.

But as you will see in this letter from Margaret's mother, her absence was really a mother protecting her child, not illness: Click here to read the "apology" from Margaret's mother which arrived some time after their departure.

Margaret's mother had decided with justification that the studio had been working her daughter too hard - so she took it upon herself to take the child away from the studio for a few weeks. Naturally this caused quite a stir at the studio - upset the production schedule, and added thousands of dollars to the budget click here to read memo by Dave Friedman dated this day which begins the "layoff" of the company due to Margaret O'Brien's unscheduled absence which last through early February and click here to read related memo.

The children weren't the only ones causing delays due to illness, Mary Astor and Harry Davenport were both ill as well - and as noted on the previous page, many delays were caused by accidents which was normal for any film. And there you have it - Minnelli's first chance to show what he can do as a director - which he does to meticulous detail!

Minnelli's use of color and movement in the film is nothing short of genius.

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In an interview, he stated "You have to have great discipline in what you do. I spent a great deal of time in research, and finding the right things for it. I feel that a picture that stays with you is made up of a hundred or more hidden things.

There are so many little things filling out the backgrounds - yet they blend in naturally so as not to look to over done. Now here is a "man's" room of the time. Filled with muted colors and all kinds of masculine brick-a-brack. Minnelli raided the MGM props and costume departments, looking for just the right things with which to clothe them and surround them.

In fact, Minnelli was such a perfectionist that he drove practically everyone crazy! At which time he would rehearse and rehearse with them until he found everything to be perfect, then filming would finally begin.

This was especially maddening for Judy. Judy had just this side of a photographic memory. People still speak with awe about the way in which she could read a script for the first time and speak it like she had rehearsed it for months.

The same with music. She would hear a song once or twice on the piano, then sing it right back to the composer. A TRUE natural talent. So, just like the kid in school who's to "fast" for the class, so Judy was too "fast" for Minnelli.

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And it drove her crazy. She would try to get out of the studio, only to be stopped at the studio gate by Minnelli and summoned back to the set for more rehearsals. Although it seems that the production was mired in chaos, there were wonderful times too. Once Judy saw herself in the dailies she realized that not only was Minnelli making her the most beautiful she had ever been, but he was also making a beautiful and touching film. The credit for Judy's new appearance doesn't belong solely to Minnelli.

The bulk of the credit goes to "Dottie" Ponedel. Minnelli had specifically asked for "Dot" to be Judy's make-up artists. This was a first at the time. Up to this time, all of the major make-up artists who worked on the stars were men. Sure, there were women assistants, but never before had one woman been given the task of making up a star of Garland's caliber.

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Dottie was a "no nonsense" type of person, and it's been reported several times that if there were no cup of water around, Dottie would simply dip her make-up brush in the nearest cup of coffee and continue! Meet Me In St. Louis was the first time Judy and Dottie worked together. Dottie reportedly looked at Judy's inserts for her nose and said "What are those? From this moment on, Judy insisted that only Dottie would do her make-up in all of her subsequent films.

As Judy's appearance blossomed so did her acting. Although still a high school girl, the role of Esther Smith is light years away from the characters Judy had previously played. Instead of a peppy "teen" or "juvenile", Esther Smith is a young lady on the verge of womanhood. And Judy plays her with a subtleness and a sort of softness that effectively makes you believe that this character is real.

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That her emotions are real. Even though the film is a "musical" there are many wonderful scenes that rely on Judy's incredible comic timing. Once again, very subtle and never once forced. This is the film in which Judy completes her transition to mature leading lady. From here on out, Judy would always be presented as a beautiful and desirable woman. Louis has a look and feel all its own.

Minnelli and his crew took great care in creating this singular palette. For the scene in which Esther and John go through the house turning out the lights, Minnelli went to great pains in creating just the right mood.

To achieve the right multiple lighting effects when Esther and John turn out the lights, Minnelli had the technicians use everything from conventional dimmers to actual window blinds. The scene is beautifully effective in showing the deepening of Esther and John's romance as the rooms slowly darken.

A very happy accident occurred when filming the lights from the kitchen beaming onto the nighttime snow. This beautiful shot actually was an accident.

When it was filmed by the Assistant Director, the word came back from the lab that film wasn't exposed properly.