Become a University Concert Series Donor and you’ll have access to our DONOR PRESALE. University Concert Series donors have access to this exclusive benefit and others, including preferred seating. Alonzo drops a bombshell by suddenly announcing that he has accepted a new lucrative position with his firm to head up the New York office, forcing the entire family into an unpopular move. And from the narrative of daily life director Vincente Minnelli creates a joyful low-key musical tapestry, the short songs naturally and beautifully embedded in the story to enhance key moments.
With the month of December well on its way, we're continuing a Holiday Tradition on Never Fully Dressed by sharing some classic holiday films. Despite these set backs, this film became one to be numbered among many of the actors' favorite roles (yes, even Garland)! Louis is a heartfelt story of suburban normalcy with excellent performances, gleaming colours and Judy Garland at her artistic peak. Rose and Esther scramble to firm up their romances, Tootie finds a whole pile of new trouble on Halloween night, and as a wistful Christmas approaches, the family prepares for major change. The musical highlights include The Trolley Song as the family heads out to check out the fairgrounds months before the big event arrives in town, and Esther singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas to try and cheer up a disconsolate Tootie. Some might be institutions in your home this time of year; others might be delightful new friends, but they're all sure to impart some the season's spirit and sense of fun.
Once purchased though, the story languished through several bad attempts at making a screenplay of it. Vincent Minnelli was a little known director who made his name with this technicolor musical.

Margret O'Brien was the child actor hired to portrayed the youngest Smith daughter, Tootie, but her mother wanted more money.
Its subtle and beautiful use of technicolor and camera angles makes it visually a treat to see.
Anna (Mary Astor) keeps the household humming, her husband Alonzo (Leon Ames) is a respected lawyer, and his father, referred to only as Grandpa (Harry Davenport), is the resident curmudgeon. The Smiths are not any different than any other middle class household, and they are occupied with the routine challenges of preparing meals, falling in love, managing work, growing up and anticipating the upcoming arrival of a major event in their fair city. Told in four segments -one for each season of the year- only a few scenes take place at Christmas, though that is where the iconic song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is first introduced.
Not until Arthur Freed, creative force behind most of the musicals of the 40's and 50's, got ahold of it, did it become something.
Casting a light man's daughter to play the role instead was an option considered, but ultimately, O'Brien got the role- and the raise. The most dramatic moments befall tiny Tootie on Halloween night, and even then most of the turbulence is in her imagination. Esther is the hinge point of the family, growing into a fine adult while still young enough to relate to her younger sisters, and Garland effortlessly carries Esther's burden of proactively managing the family equilibrium while planning her own flirty pursuit of John Truett. Instead, the film undertakes to chronicle the lives of a close-knit and perfectly ordinary middle class family living in St.
In fact, it became so much of something that when it hit theaters it would be MGM's biggest grossing film to date!
When a light fell and nearly landed on top of the young girl, that same lighting man was admitted to a psychiatric  institution!

A second viewing was much more enjoyable than the first, because I went into the film anticipating that slower pace. The star of this ensemble film, was Judy Garland, but she was not happy to be there, at first. I was able to drink in the details- and, of course really enjoy Judy Garland as she crooned that classic Christmas song.
As everyone in the city is excitedly anticipating the opening of the World's Fair, the audience gets a peek into the Smith family home. Though she'd become a big name through Wizard of Oz some years earlier, MGM had typically cast her as the plucky teen- the little girl with the big voice. We see the older girls' love lives through their trials and rewards, we watch the younger children's antics, and the neighbor's comings and goings.
Louis would be the first technicolor movie she'd made since Wizard of Oz, but at twenty one, she desperately wanted to move on from playing teenaged parts. In fact, back in 1944, when the film was being made, it didn't sound to movie executives like anything an audience would pay to see either. Still, after seeing the dailies, she realized this film portrayed her as more beautiful than she'd been allowed to be on film before. Perhaps this was the first step that lead to her relationship and eventual marriage to Minnelli.

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