Friday, April 06, 2007

Musical Parody IV: Meet Me in St. Louis

This is another musical parody in which I try to analyze the subtext of what the characters in musicals really communicate when they're singing to each other. Today I will guide you through the musical numbers of Meet Me in St. Louis

Background: Meet Me in St. Louis was a very famous MGM Musical from 1944 that was influenced by the need to make films honoring homespun-Americana to help with the war effort from World War II. It starred Judy Garland and was said to be the film that allowed her to be seen as a grown-up for the first time (they might have overdone it). It also led to the marriage of Judy Garland and the film's director Vincente Minelli and their offspring Liza Minelli continues to fill the tabloids to this very day, carrying on the Judy Garland tradition of marital dysfunction.

Here are the musical numbers:
Meet Me in St. Louis-
The Smith Family: This movie sponsored by the St. Louis chamber of commerce. Come visit our magnificent city

The Boy Next Door-
Esther Smith: Hi, I'm Judy Garland and I'm all grown-up now. Oh, all the lost time I now have to make up for, missing my teenage years and all. I'm so boy crazy and so sexually repressed by our Victorian societal norms. Boys, boys, boys, look at that boy next door.

Skip to my Lou-
Alonzo: Skip to my, Skip to my, Skip to my Lou
Rose: Alonzo, what's that your singing? Let's make a musical number out of it
Alonzo: It's not even an original song
Rose: Oh don't worry, it's in the public domain and our producer left us short on songs. We'll just throw in some original lyrics on the side and haphazard choreography
Alonzo: Okey dokey
Everyone: Skip to my, Skip to my, Skip to my Lou
Esther: Boys, Boys, Boys! Oooh, look there's Harry and Charlie and Jonny

I Was Drunk Last Night Dear Mother/Under the Bamboo Tree-
Tootie-I'm much less restrained than my syblings. The audience is bound to grow tired of these stiffs and like me more
Esther-You're right, which is why you have to get out of this picture immediately
Tootie-Awww, come on, I might be up for an oscar if I sing another one of these cutsey songs
Esther-OK, but only if I join in.

Over the Bannister-
John-Golly gee, Esther, you're awfully pretty.
Esther-I know we live in this Victorian-like society where we're not supposed to kiss after the 16th date, but we're only a bannister away. It's not really that big. Come on over on the other side of it, and let's get to know each other on a more physical level.
John-Huh? I've never been in the same room alone with a girl before, so I have no idea what you're saying to me. Anyway, I better go, it's getting late.

The Trolly Song-
Citizens of St. Louis-Wow, our city is so great now that we have this exciting public transportation! St. Louis, Missourri is always a great place where new inventions like public transportation are brought to the forefrount. Come visit this great city!
Esther-Oh, trolleys are all good and all, but i'm too depressed to think about anything. My crush Jonny isn't here. Maybe, I'll marry the director of this picture, Vincente Minelli. He is always spending so much time looking at me through his camera, he must be interested in me, and I'm sure that has nothing to do with the fact that it's his job to film me. I'm so misguided.
Citizens of St. Louis-Weee! This new technology is splendid. Clang, clang, clang. Ding, ding, ding.
Jonny-Hey guys, I missed the train, let me on!
Esther-Oh yay! Jonny is here! Wait up girls, I'm not depressed anymore, Judy Garland is here and is ready to save this lame musical number. I can clang-clang-clang and ding-ding-ding with the best of them.

You and I:
Mrs Smith: I think you screwed over the family but perhaps the economics faciliating our need to move are more complicated than I understand as a woman, so I'll give you the benefit of the doubt
Mr. Smith: Thank you
The Smith Kids: Ok, we'll forgive you too

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas-
Tootie-I don't want to move
Esther-Well, it's Christmas time, let's just enjoy that. Christmas makes everything better

Meet me in St. Louis (reprise):
Once again this musical has been sponsored by the city of St. Louis. Not as big of a city as New York makes little girls cry and destroys families. St. Louis is a wholesome place where Judy Garland and Margaret O'Brien sing and dance around happily


Dale said...

Hello, On a reality note, this is one of the greatest musicals ever made: the opening sequence where the song, MEET ME..., is to introduce the characters; the use of the 4 seasons for structure; wonderful singing by Judy; a couple classic songs by noted compose; one of the first musicals to make the music [singing, songs, etc.] fit into and move the story along; and, ...

What is your feeling about the movie? Thanks for the lol. Dale

OKonheim said...

Hmmm, that's a very good question. Meet Me in St. Louis is something that I would have definitely put at the top of my list of musicals and the general consensus is that it is a historically significant film.

I have seen it multiple times and had enjoyed it each time. The Trolley Song number and the general old-fashioned mood of the movie really has its charms. I don't know, though, but the last time I saw it, (I was just watching small bits of it for research purposes for the parody I wrote), I noticed that I felt like they really overplayed the "Look, Judy Garland is all grown-up" angle and maybe it's knowing more of Judy Garland's backstory that lessens the experience, I don't know.

I think on the whole, there's a sort of aura to the movie, with all this homespun nostalgia that really entrances the viewer and really blankets what I think are some of the shortcomings that I simply chose to focus on in the parody, since i was being a bit more scrutinizing.

Anonymous said...

Hello. . . I don't mean at all to say anything critical towards the Critic, but "Meet Me in St. Louis" was not in any way to show Judy Garland as an adult. Though, it is true that Judy Garland wanted to get away from playing young girls and to grow up on screen.

Before the film, Judy had already played adult roles, as such in "For Me and My Gal." Her character, Esther Smith, was a junior in high school. And, it was that very fact of the character's age that led Judy Garland to turn down the film at first. It was then that the part was written to make a little more sophisticated Esther Smith, but the fact remained that Judy was playing a young girl again.

Anonymous said...

This is hilarious. Do OKLAHOMA next!