The 1949 film Little woman (set in 1861) and the 1944 musical Meet me in St. Louis (which is set in 1903) and they are two popular and surprisingly similar movies. This article details some of the many characteristics that these movies have in common.
Both films revolve around individual families residing in the leafy suburbs of American cities (Concord, Massachusetts and St. Louis, Missouri). Family in Little woman It consists of: father Mr. March (Leon Ames), mother Marmee (Mary Astor) and daughters (in descending age order) Meg (Janet Leigh), Jo (June Allyson), Amy (Elizabeth Taylor) and Beth ( Margaret O’Brien). Family in Meet me in St. Louis Consists of: father Mr. Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames), mother Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor), son Lon, Jr. (Henry H. Daniels, Jr.) and daughters (in descending age order) Rose (Lucille Bremer ), Esther (Judy Garland), Agnes (Joan Carroll) and “Tootie” (Margaret O’Brien).
As you may have already noticed, the father, mother, and youngest daughter in both films are played by the same actors. Another actor present in both films is Harry Davenport (who appears as Dr. Barnes in Little woman and as “grandfather” in Meet me in St. Louis).
Movies have similar transitions between their credits and opening scenes. On Little woman, a picturesque winter scene from the home of the March family and that of their neighbors is shown as embroidery. On Meet me in St. Louis, a lavishly framed sepia toned image of the house is displayed in summer and the words “Summer 1903.” Both movies start with these still images fading into real moving footage. On Meet me in St. LouisTo help the viewer appreciate the passage of time, the use of a static seasonal image of the house is repeated every three months until the spring of 1904, the time of the famous St. Louis World’s Fair.
In both films, we see all but the youngest daughters (Beth, Agnes, and Tootie) fall in love. Both Esther (from Meet me in St. Louis) and Jo (and later Amy) (from Little woman) fall in love with the healthy character of the neighbor, who in both cases has just moved into the neighborhood.
Both films incorporate the Christmas period, and the families in both films have reason to be upset about that particular Christmas. In the case of Little woman, the family misses their father, who is serving in the Union Army during the Civil War. Each of the daughters uses the dollar their Aunt March (Lucile Watson) gave them to buy Christmas gifts for their mother. On Christmas Day, the family decides to give much of their Christmas food to their poor friends. On Meet me in St. Louis, the family Christmas is saddened by the fact that their father has decided that they will move to New York right after Christmas. On Christmas Eve, when the father realizes how upset everyone is about his decision, he gives them the best Christmas present they could ask for by changing their mind about the move. The Christmas spirit and enchanting snow scenes depicted in both films are ideal for holiday viewing.
Both films appear to have a similar artistic appearance. For example, they use particularly vibrant colors and beautiful decorations, which make them very pleasant to see. They also take full advantage of the large seasonal variation in climate experienced in parts of North America. Both films feature houses with a grand staircase and an ornate, plant-filled conservatory. At one point in each film, the two youngest daughters are shown spying on the festivities from behind the stair rails.
In addition to the fact that the movies were made around the same time (1944 and 1949), the similarities mentioned above may also be related to the following credit connections. Sally Benson, who wrote the original novel. Meet me in St. Louis (most of which was previously published as “Kensington Stories” in The New Yorker magazine), wrote the film adaptation of this version by Louisa May Alcott Little woman. The films also shared the same set decorator (Edwin B. Willis), member of the art direction team (Cedric Gibbons), associate color director (Technicolor) (Henri Jaffa), Technicolor consultant (Natalie Kalmus), member of the makeup department (Jack Dawn), and sound recording director (Douglas Shearer).