Submitted by Evan B
Rose gets engaged, Esther begins dating John (though turns down his marriage proposal), and the Smith family cancel their plans to move to New York in order to stay in St. Louis.
The Smith family is a large family living in St. Louis in the early 1900s. They are comprised of married couple Alonzo (Leon Ames) and Anna (Mary Astor), eldest college-aged son Lon (Henry Daniels Jr.), high school aged daughters Rose (Lucille Bremer) and Esther (Judy Garland), elementary school aged daughters Agnes (Joan Carroll) and Tootie (Margaret O’Brien), and Anna’s dad Grandpa (Harry Davenport). Other than Alonzo, they are all excited for the upcoming World’s Fair to be hosted in their hometown. Rose desperately hopes to find a fiancee, while Esther has a crush on their next door neighbor John Truett (Tom Drake).
The film follows the family over the course of a year. At Halloween, Tootie and Agnes go out and play a lot of pranks in the neighborhood. Tootie comes home with an injury and claims John attacked her. An irate Esther beats him up, but Tootie later confesses that she was injured during her pranks and that John actually saved her and Agnes from being chased by the police. Esther apologizes and confesses her feelings for John, and he reciprocates. Alonzo later announces that he got a promotion and that the family will be moving to New York City. Although the rest of the Smiths don’t want to go, they eventually acquiesce.
Christmas comes and the older girls prepare to go to their last dance in St. Louis – a Christmas Eve ball. Rose doesn’t have a date, but Lon (home from college) agrees to accompany her. The night of the ball, John forgets to pick up his tuxedo from the cleaners before they close and he has nothing to wear. Grandpa saves the day by agreeing to accompany Esther to the dance. At the dance, Rose and Lon meet another couple who are there as friends. They each become smitten with the other couple. Esther puts on a happy face, but becomes increasingly despondent as she is forced to dance with mean-spirited boys. Grandpa surprises her at the end of the night by leading her to a lobby where John awaits, having managed to find the cleaner to give him his tuxedo. John and Esther share the last dance together. John then proposes marriage to Esther, even offering to move to New York to be with her. To Esther’s own surprise, she declines the proposal, not yet ready to get married.
The Smiths return home and Esther finds Tootie upstairs waiting for Santa to arrive. Tootie confides that she still doesn’t want to leave and Esther tries to soothe her by singing the classic song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Tootie is not soothed and instead runs outside and begins smashing the snowmen the family built earlier. Alonzo finally realizes how unhappy his family is. On Christmas morning, he informs them that he has turned down the promotion and they will be staying in St. Louis. Then, the boy that Rose met at the dance shows up unexpectedly and proposes to Rose.
The film ends in the Spring with the Smiths, John, and Lon and Rose’s new significant others (Lon is now dating the girl he met at the dance) attending the World’s Fair. They are thrilled by all the beautiful things there and they happily go off to have dinner together.