Meet Me in St. Louis: Making of Minnelli's Classic Christmas Musical

meet me in st louis

Part Three of Four Articles

The major coup was casting Margaret O'Brien, as Judy’s youngest sister, Tootie. Minnelli was sitting in Freed's office, when an agent walked in with a four-year child.  "Margaret," the agent said, "Please do something special for Mr. Freed."
Read Parts One and Two
Wearing kilts, the little girl marched directly to Freed, grabbed his shirtsleeve and cried hysterically, "Don't send my brother to the chair! Don't let him fry."
Minnelli's mouth fell open. He rushed to scripter Finklehoffe and said, "I know you're writing an audition scene with a producer. I've just seen this extraordinary little girl. You must use her–just the way she is–kilts and all." Tootie’s part was then specifically rewritten with O'Brien in mind.
O'Brien turned out to be a huge success as Tootie, though Minnelli found his efforts to achieve her performance enervating and upsetting.   In Journey for Margaret, O'Brien played a problematic war orphan, which was followed by other neurotic roles.   But in Meet Me in St. Louis, there was no need for her to act big, since she played a "normal" girl. It took Minnelli some time to get a natural performance out of her.
O’Brien was particularly adept at doing emotionally charged scenes. Her mother and aunt would whisper something to her ears before every scene. Then, like a Pavolvian dog, she would get emotional and cry. Minnelli always wondered what precisely they were whispering to get such an intense reaction.
They were preparing to shoot Tootie’s great emotional scene, when she demolishes hysterically the snowmen in the garden. O'Brien’s mother came over to Minnelli and said: "Margaret's angry at me tonight. She doesn't want me to work her up for the scene. You'll have to do it."
"O.K., but how do I do it," Minnelli asked.
The mother said, "She has a little dog. You'll have to say someone is going to kill that dog."
            "I can't do that," Minnelli said.
            Since it was a cold night, O'Brien was sitting inside the house with a blanket over her shoulders. 
Minnelli braced himself before walking over to her.
            "Margaret," he said, "there's this little dog and somebody is going to take a gun and shoot it."
            O'Brien's enormous brown eyes got even larger.
            "Is there going to be lots of blood?" she asked
            "Yes," Minnelli said.
            Margaret's face registered stunned expression, but there were no tears.
            Out of the corner of his eye, Minnelli could see that her mother and her aunt were staring at them. 
Minnelli felt they expected him to go further, be even more extreme in his instructions.
            "The dog is going to suffer terribly," he said with a sinister voice. "It's going to yelp and stumble around."
            Working himself up to a feverish pitch, Minnelli finally said, against his better judgment, "The dog is going to die!"
            "Oh, no," Margaret screamed, tears rolling down her eyes.
            Minnelli turned to his assistant and said, "Turn the cameras!”
Mercifully, Margaret did the scene in one take, after which she went skipping happily off the set. That night, Minnelli went home feeling like a monster. He had never done it before, and vowed never to do it again. That sort of direction struck him as unhealthy and manipulative. By today's standards, it would be considered child abuse, a severe violation of children's work ethics.
In most scenes, however, such as the cakewalk number with Judy, which became one of the film's highlights, O’Brien was delightfully natural and spontaneous, and there was no need for special instructions or any manipulation.
Problems with Judy
Judy did not exactly throw herself into her part. Used to wisecracking her dialogue, Judy responded to the low-keyed script with mockery of her lines. However, aware that something was wrong, she complained to Freed that she had no idea what Minnelli expected from her.   Freed told Judy to trust the director. But the atmosphere on the set remained cordial at best.   Taking note of Minnelli’s mannerisms, Judy developed comedy routines to entertain the crew, while he was off the set. She would play two parts that of Minnelli and of a vet actor, who for decades has earned a living by speaking only one line in every movie he had made.
The actor arrives for work primed for his big moment, which calls for looking up at the sky and remarking, “I think it might rain.” He is anticipating another routine paycheck, but Minnelli runs him through his spot and suggests that he might consider the possibility of pausing between raising his eyes and speaking his line. The actor agrees. 
Minnelli likes that better, but he now thinks it might be stronger if the actor made an effort to sound a trifle put out at the prospect of rain. They rehearse again. Then comes a suggestion of a sneer. That’s good, but maybe he should do it once more, this time with a hint of resignation as the line is spoken. Minnelli likes this, but now wonders how the actor feels he should play the line. This process continues indefinitely, until the skit ends with the bit player reduced to a blathering imbecile unable to remember his own name.
Judy experienced different kinds of problems with Minnelli than those with her previous directors. Minnelli rehearsed a scene over and over again until he was satisfied with every detail. He would then shoot it in as few takes as possible. A shot would be taken and retaken, until it was exactly as he wanted it.  
Though he didn't scream loud at his actors, Minnelli found ways to let them know whether he was pleased with their delivery. Minnelli seemed quiet, but in fact, was even more stubborn and insistent than Busby Berkeley, who Judy didn’t like and didn't get along with (she made only one picture with him).
One morning, Minnelli shot the same scene numerous times, but each time, Judy failed. Feeling hapless, Minnelli said calmly, "We'll try the scene again after lunch."   Distraught and hysterical, Judy called Freed: "Please come down? I just don't know what this man wants.   The whole morning's gone by and we still haven't got a single shot. He makes me feel like I can't act."    Freed comforted her. "Well, Vince is from New York, and sometimes he's a little hard to understand, but you'll get on fine with him. You'll see."   With Freed’s assurances, work resumed.
There was one particularly difficult scene in which the entire Smith family sat at the dinner table and talked. Each member–the father, mother, grandfather, and three daughters–had lines of dialogue.   Minnelli saw the scene as a fugue, in which the actors were to play off one another with the precision of musical instruments.   Each member had to join in the conversation at a precise moment and with the right inflection.   Minnelli set up the dinner table on a separate set, and each time another scene finished shooting, he had everyone sit down and rehearse the dinner scene.
Minnelli didn’t hesitate to call Judy back to do retakes after she thought she was through for the day.   One afternoon, after finishing her scenes, Judy got into her car and was driving out the gate, when the doorman stopped her with a message: "Mr. Minnelli wants you back on the stage to rehearse."   This was unheard of; it was like school detention.   
Swallowing her indignation, Judy returned, and Minnelli asked that she take her place at the table.   When they finished, Minnelli said, "Well, I know that when we come to shoot it, we'll still have to work on it."
Fuming as she rose from the table, Judy complained to Mary Astor, who played her mother, Mrs. Smith, “This is ridiculous.” But Astor surprised her with her response: "Judy, I've been watching that man. He knows what he's doing. He's absolutely right. Just go along with it." Since it was hard to fault a veteran actress like Astor, Judy calmed down and became more obedient. Grudgingly, based on the rushes, Judy could see that Astor was right.

 Read Tomorrow Part Four







xosotin chelseathông tin chuyển nhượngcâu lạc bộ bóng đá arsenalbóng đá atalantabundesligacầu thủ haalandUEFAevertonxosokeonhacaiketquabongdalichthidau7m.newskqbdtysokeobongdabongdalufutebol ao vivofutemaxmulticanaisonbetbsport.fitonbet88.oooi9bet.bizhi88.ooookvip.atf8bet.atfb88.cashvn88.cashshbet.atbóng đá world cupbóng đá inter milantin juventusbenzemala ligaclb leicester cityMUman citymessi lionelsalahnapolineymarpsgronaldoserie atottenhamvalenciaAS ROMALeverkusenac milanmbappenapolinewcastleaston villaliverpoolfa cupreal madridpremier leagueAjaxbao bong da247EPLbarcelonabournemouthaff cupasean footballbên lề sân cỏbáo bóng đá mớibóng đá cúp thế giớitin bóng đá ViệtUEFAbáo bóng đá việt namHuyền thoại bóng đágiải ngoại hạng anhSeagametap chi bong da the gioitin bong da lutrận đấu hôm nayviệt nam bóng đátin nong bong daBóng đá nữthể thao 7m24h bóng đábóng đá hôm naythe thao ngoai hang anhtin nhanh bóng đáphòng thay đồ bóng đábóng đá phủikèo nhà cái onbetbóng đá lu 2thông tin phòng thay đồthe thao vuaapp đánh lô đềdudoanxosoxổ số giải đặc biệthôm nay xổ sốkèo đẹp hôm nayketquaxosokq xskqxsmnsoi cầu ba miềnsoi cau thong kesxkt hôm naythế giới xổ sốxổ số 24hxo.soxoso3mienxo so ba mienxoso dac bietxosodientoanxổ số dự đoánvé số chiều xổxoso ket quaxosokienthietxoso kq hôm nayxoso ktxổ số megaxổ số mới nhất hôm nayxoso truc tiepxoso ViệtSX3MIENxs dự đoánxs mien bac hom nayxs miên namxsmientrungxsmn thu 7con số may mắn hôm nayKQXS 3 miền Bắc Trung Nam Nhanhdự đoán xổ số 3 miềndò vé sốdu doan xo so hom nayket qua xo xoket qua xo so.vntrúng thưởng xo sokq xoso trực tiếpket qua xskqxs 247số miền nams0x0 mienbacxosobamien hôm naysố đẹp hôm naysố đẹp trực tuyếnnuôi số đẹpxo so hom quaxoso ketquaxstruc tiep hom nayxổ số kiến thiết trực tiếpxổ số kq hôm nayso xo kq trực tuyenkết quả xổ số miền bắc trực tiếpxo so miền namxổ số miền nam trực tiếptrực tiếp xổ số hôm nayket wa xsKQ XOSOxoso onlinexo so truc tiep hom nayxsttso mien bac trong ngàyKQXS3Msố so mien bacdu doan xo so onlinedu doan cau loxổ số kenokqxs vnKQXOSOKQXS hôm naytrực tiếp kết quả xổ số ba miềncap lo dep nhat hom naysoi cầu chuẩn hôm nayso ket qua xo soXem kết quả xổ số nhanh nhấtSX3MIENXSMB chủ nhậtKQXSMNkết quả mở giải trực tuyếnGiờ vàng chốt số OnlineĐánh Đề Con Gìdò số miền namdò vé số hôm nayso mo so debach thủ lô đẹp nhất hôm naycầu đề hôm naykết quả xổ số kiến thiết toàn quốccau dep 88xsmb rong bach kimket qua xs 2023dự đoán xổ số hàng ngàyBạch thủ đề miền BắcSoi Cầu MB thần tàisoi cau vip 247soi cầu tốtsoi cầu miễn phísoi cau mb vipxsmb hom nayxs vietlottxsmn hôm naycầu lô đẹpthống kê lô kép xổ số miền Bắcquay thử xsmnxổ số thần tàiQuay thử XSMTxổ số chiều nayxo so mien nam hom nayweb đánh lô đề trực tuyến uy tínKQXS hôm nayxsmb ngày hôm nayXSMT chủ nhậtxổ số Power 6/55KQXS A trúng roycao thủ chốt sốbảng xổ số đặc biệtsoi cầu 247 vipsoi cầu wap 666Soi cầu miễn phí 888 VIPSoi Cau Chuan MBđộc thủ desố miền bắcthần tài cho sốKết quả xổ số thần tàiXem trực tiếp xổ sốXIN SỐ THẦN TÀI THỔ ĐỊACầu lô số đẹplô đẹp vip 24hsoi cầu miễn phí 888xổ số kiến thiết chiều nayXSMN thứ 7 hàng tuầnKết quả Xổ số Hồ Chí Minhnhà cái xổ số Việt NamXổ Số Đại PhátXổ số mới nhất Hôm Nayso xo mb hom nayxxmb88quay thu mbXo so Minh ChinhXS Minh Ngọc trực tiếp hôm nayXSMN 88XSTDxs than taixổ số UY TIN NHẤTxs vietlott 88SOI CẦU SIÊU CHUẨNSoiCauVietlô đẹp hôm nay vipket qua so xo hom naykqxsmb 30 ngàydự đoán xổ số 3 miềnSoi cầu 3 càng chuẩn xácbạch thủ lônuoi lo chuanbắt lô chuẩn theo ngàykq xo-solô 3 càngnuôi lô đề siêu vipcầu Lô Xiên XSMBđề về bao nhiêuSoi cầu x3xổ số kiến thiết ngày hôm nayquay thử xsmttruc tiep kết quả sxmntrực tiếp miền bắckết quả xổ số chấm vnbảng xs đặc biệt năm 2023soi cau xsmbxổ số hà nội hôm naysxmtxsmt hôm nayxs truc tiep mbketqua xo so onlinekqxs onlinexo số hôm nayXS3MTin xs hôm nayxsmn thu2XSMN hom nayxổ số miền bắc trực tiếp hôm naySO XOxsmbsxmn hôm nay188betlink188 xo sosoi cầu vip 88lô tô việtsoi lô việtXS247xs ba miềnchốt lô đẹp nhất hôm naychốt số xsmbCHƠI LÔ TÔsoi cau mn hom naychốt lô chuẩndu doan sxmtdự đoán xổ số onlinerồng bạch kim chốt 3 càng miễn phí hôm naythống kê lô gan miền bắcdàn đề lôCầu Kèo Đặc Biệtchốt cầu may mắnkết quả xổ số miền bắc hômSoi cầu vàng 777thẻ bài onlinedu doan mn 888soi cầu miền nam vipsoi cầu mt vipdàn de hôm nay7 cao thủ chốt sốsoi cau mien phi 7777 cao thủ chốt số nức tiếng3 càng miền bắcrồng bạch kim 777dàn de bất bạion newsddxsmn188betw88w88789bettf88sin88suvipsunwintf88five8812betsv88vn88Top 10 nhà cái uy tínsky88iwinlucky88nhacaisin88oxbetm88vn88w88789betiwinf8betrio66rio66lucky88oxbetvn88188bet789betMay-88five88one88sin88bk88xbetoxbetMU88188BETSV88RIO66ONBET88188betM88M88SV88Jun-68Jun-88one88iwinv9betw388OXBETw388w388onbetonbetonbetonbet88onbet88onbet88onbet88onbetonbetonbetonbetqh88mu88Nhà cái uy tínpog79vp777vp777vipbetvipbetuk88uk88typhu88typhu88tk88tk88sm66sm66me88me888live8live8livesm66me88win798livesm66me88win79pog79pog79vp777vp777uk88uk88tk88tk88luck8luck8kingbet86kingbet86k188k188hr99hr99123b8xbetvnvipbetsv66zbettaisunwin-vntyphu88vn138vwinvwinvi68ee881xbetrio66zbetvn138i9betvipfi88clubcf68onbet88ee88typhu88onbetonbetkhuyenmai12bet-moblie12betmoblietaimienphi247vi68clupcf68clupvipbeti9betqh88onb123onbefsoi cầunổ hũbắn cáđá gàđá gàgame bàicasinosoi cầuxóc đĩagame bàigiải mã giấc mơbầu cuaslot gamecasinonổ hủdàn đềBắn cácasinodàn đềnổ hũtài xỉuslot gamecasinobắn cáđá gàgame bàithể thaogame bàisoi cầukqsssoi cầucờ tướngbắn cágame bàixóc đĩa开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育亚新体育亚新体育亚新体育爱游戏爱游戏爱游戏华体会华体会华体会IM体育IM体育沙巴体育沙巴体育PM体育PM体育AG尊龙AG尊龙AG尊龙AG百家乐AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人<AG真人<皇冠体育皇冠体育PG电子PG电子万博体育万博体育KOK体育KOK体育欧宝体育江南体育江南体育江南体育半岛体育半岛体育半岛体育凯发娱乐凯发娱乐杏彩体育杏彩体育杏彩体育FB体育PM真人PM真人<米乐娱乐米乐娱乐天博体育天博体育开元棋牌开元棋牌j9九游会j9九游会开云体育AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人爱游戏华体会华体会im体育kok体育开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育欧宝体育ob体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育开云体育开云体育棋牌棋牌沙巴体育买球平台新葡京娱乐开云体育mu88qh88