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8/10
Splendid example of the well-crafted musicals dished out of MGM's golden bowl
classicfilmarchives17 April 2002
"The Harvey Girls" is a splendid example of a well-crafted Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical from a time when well-crafted musicals were being dished out in abundance from Metro's golden bowl.

Inspired by the revolutionary success of "Oklahoma" on Broadway and tailored to fit the protean talents of it's young leading lady, Judy Garland, the film tells the story, in words and music, of a group of waitresses brought west in the late 1800's to open another link in the Fred Harvey chain of restaurants. In the process, they encounter all kinds of romantic and dramatic conflicts. The cast is headed by Judy Garland, fresh from her triumph in the blockbuster musical "Meet Me In St. Louis" and her quietly moving dramatic performance in "The Clock". During the filming of "The Harvey Girls", Garland was one of the top box-office draws in the nation, and Hollywood's most versatile actress. She performs the role of Susan Bradley, an adventurous mail order bride who befriends the Harvey girls en route to New Mexico, with a vibrant comic touch. Her ability to combine tongue in cheek humor with her signature vulnerability is very satisfying in this film, and is an early highlight in her already legendary career.

The rest of the cast is first-rate: Angela Lansbury gives a wickedly fine performance as Em, the jaded dance-hall queen with hooded eyes and no-flies-on-me attitude. John Hodiak is the local tough guy and dance-hall owner, and also the object of Garland and Lansbury's affections. Broadway legend (and Garland's "Wizard of Oz" co-star) Ray Bolger does an amusing turn as the town's rubber legged blacksmith, and Preston Foster is the murderous Judge Purvis. The ranks of the Harvey girls are filled by some of Hollywood's most marvelous character actresses, including Marjorie Main and Virginia O'Brien, and the dancer Cyd Charisse in one of her first roles.

The film boasts what New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther appreciatively called "an abundance of chromatic spectacle and an uncommonly good score", the centerpiece of which is the Academy Award-winning song of the year (1946), "On The Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe". This production number fills the screen with the colorful bustle of singers, dancers, and horses, and in the best Broadway tradition, advances the plot by introducing almost every cast member and giving them the opportunity to tell their story, in song, and their motivation for coming west in the first place. A spectacular bit of Golden Age musical magic, topped off by Garland's star turn entrance and full-throated belting of the Johnny Mercer/Harry Warren song.

The creative team behind this fable is as impressive as the talent in front of the camera. In addition to the score by Mercer and Warren, the film was directed by George Sidney ("Show Boat", "Annie Get Your Gun"), produced by Arthur Freed ("Singin In The Rain", "Gigi"), art directed by Cedric Gibbons ("The Great Zeigfeld", "The Wizard of Oz"), with musical direction by Lennie Hayton, orchestrations by Conrad Salinger, and musical arrangements by "Eloise" children's book author and singer Kay Thompson (a decade before she sizzled onscreen as the fashion magazine editor in the Audrey Hepburn classic "Funny Face").

This film will include restored Technicolor and stereo sound on DVD, and also a few musical numbers which were cut when the film was released due to length, and have been locked away in the MGM vaults. Now they have been restored, and the viewer can enjoy more of what film critic Howard Barnes called "a great big animated picture postcard."
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8/10
A fully-balanced musical film with something for everyone.
movibuf196228 August 2006
Even though the film starred Judy Garland, what I really enjoyed about The Harvey Girls is that it operates as an ensemble musical, giving features and spotlight numbers to just about everyone in the mammoth cast. This kind of thing is usually reserved for stage musicals only, but back in 1946 MGM's roster of talent was strong, if not yet infamous. Players like deadpan comic Virginia O'Brien and dancer Cyd Charisse were fairly new back then, but this film gives them individual spotlights: not only do they both sing with Garland in the nighttime ballad "It's A Great Big World," but O'Brien gets to sing "The Wild, Wild West" (while assisting blacksmith Ray Bolger in shoeing a horse) and Charisse gets to dance (briefly) opposite Kenny Baker singing "Wait And See." Marjorie Main leads the Harvey waitresses through "The Train Must Be Fed;" Angela Lansbury is featured in two saloon numbers, and Ray Bolger gets to do some of his rubber-legged clowning at the Harvey House party. And, of course, everyone on the planet is assembled for the big, eight minute production number "On The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe." There's literally something for everyone- even the oil-and-water romance between Garland and John Hodiak. And they shine as well, even if Hodiak wasn't the most well-known leading man. Check out this wonderfully scored, written, acted, and costumed tribute to old-fashioned Americana.
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The "Oklahoma" influence is felt on this western musical...
Doylenf10 May 2001
With Broadway still under the spell of musicals like "Oklahoma", MGM's Arthur Freed was inspired to make a western musical. Originally designed for Lana Turner, the script was altered and songs added to make it a perfect vehicle for Judy Garland. The songs by Johnny Mercer and Harry Warren included two standouts: "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" and "It's A Great Big World".

Judy gives an inspired performance and belts out her songs with gusto, particularly effective in the big set piece, "Atchison", which is photographed and choreographed with great precision to produce a dazzling show-stopping number. The film opened to great reviews and was a big box-office hit in the summer of '46.

Don't believe the "sour grapes" reviews claiming the film is dated and mediocre. It's anything but that. If you enjoy MGM musicals at the height of their popularity with film-goers, you'll enjoy this one! Marjorie Main is a treat, Selena Royle is dignified, Kenny Baker does wonders with a ballad and Cyd Charisse has a couple of nice numbers. It's nice to see Ray Bolger sharing scenes with Judy again, their first reunion since "Oz". The big surprise is Angela Lansbury as the garishly costumed dancehall hostess--a far cry from her "Murder She Wrote" image.

Understandably, "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" won the Academy Award for Best Song, as well as a nomination for Best Scoring of a dramatic or comedy film.
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They just don't make 'em like this anymore
IStillAmBig6 July 2003
Ah...The Harvey Girls!

What can I say? In the mood for a little escapism? Do you enjoy classic Hollywood musicals? This MGM extravaganza is not to be missed!

Garland at her winsome best in material specifically tailored to her considerable talents - this is just before everything really started to sour in her professional life, and she never looked better. The material she's given to work with not only gives her the classic "Atchison, Topeka & the Santa Fe" to perform, but some wonderful comedic bits as well.

In the ensemble numbers, you can actually see her, as well as the rest of the cast, enjoying the moment as they filmed.

Beautifully photographed - a superb supporting cast who all get a moment to shine including Ray Bolger, Virginia O'brien, Marjorie Main, a very young Cyd Charisse and a stunning young Angela Lansbury.

MGM at the peak of it's creative and artistic powers - must see viewing for any fan of "The Golden Age" of Hollywood - check it out!
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8/10
A List Of Passengers That's Pretty Big Who All Want Lifts To Brown's Hotel
bkoganbing10 June 2009
The Harvey Girls, a film to celebrate the first of the fast food chains which quite frankly would be what the Harvey Restaurant chain was back in the modernizing west. There are folks in the town who don't want to see the Harvey Restaurant established and thereby hangs the tale of this film.

Preston Foster is the town boss and John Hodiak runs the saloon. These guys thrive on the town being in the Wild West accent on the wild. Foster's a rather shrewd villain, he realizes that the clean cut virginal Harvey girls who are servers might make the men forget the loose women of the saloon and that if they court and marry them and start raising families, they might demand a little law and order. That would be a disaster for Foster. Better to cut the problem off at the root.

Hodiak however is a jaded sort and bored with the loose women of his establishment. In a cinema not under the Code influence, Angela Lansbury and her crew would be prostitutes. He kind of likes the idea of the Harvey Restaurant coming to town and likes it better when Judy Garland comes to town.

Judy's come to town as a mail order bride, but when she sees Chill Wills is the prospective groom, both of them decide they're not suited for each other. Hodiak has been writing Wills's letters, a plot device that was used in the Joseph Cotten-Jennifer Jones film Love Letters. If you know about that film, you know how The Harvey Girls turns out.

The Harvey Girls has come down in cinema history because of the famous On The Atchison, Topeka, And The Santa Fe number. The song itself won an Academy Award in 1946 for best original song and the number as staged by MGM is one of the longest and most complex in the annals of film. It runs about 20 minutes and just about every member of the cast except Hodiak and Foster get a line or two in the song. Of course it ends with Judy as well it should have.

One thing I don't understand though is the under use of both Ray Bolger and Kenny Baker. Bolger of course had co-starred with Judy in The Wizard Of Oz, but he was far more known for being a Broadway star than a film player. He had just come off a big run in the last Rodgers&Hart musical By Jupiter. Kenny Baker was a famous radio singer who also had starred on Broadway in Kurt Weill's One Touch Of Venus with Mary Martin. Why these guys got the supporting roles they did is a mystery to me. I suspect both of them had a lot of their parts end up on the cutting room floor.

MGM editing mastery was at its best in The Harvey Girls. The film was partially done on location and partially done at Culver City. The editing is so smooth you really can't tell.

Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer wrote the score for The Harvey Girls and while the Atchison number dwarfs the rest, there's a song called It's A Great Big World that gets sadly neglected. It was sung by Judy Garland, Virginia O'Brien, and someone dubbing Cyd Charisse who first got noticed in this film for her dancing.

As I said before if done today if some gazillionaire would finance a remake, Angela and her saloon girls would be portrayed more frankly as working girls. But that would also cause the film to lose some of its naive charm. And this film holds up quite well for 63 years and counting.
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8/10
Splendid example of the well-crafted musicals dished out of MGM's golden bowl
classicfilmarchives17 April 2002
"The Harvey Girls" is a splendid example of a well-crafted Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical from a time when well-crafted musicals were being dished out in abundance from Metro's golden bowl.

Inspired by the revolutionary success of "Oklahoma" on Broadway and tailored to fit the protean talents of it's young leading lady, Judy Garland, the film tells the story, in words and music, of a group of waitresses brought west in the late 1800's to open another link in the Fred Harvey chain of restaurants. In the process, they encounter all kinds of romantic and dramatic conflicts.

The cast is headed by Judy Garland, fresh from her triumph in the blockbuster musical "Meet Me In St. Louis" and her quietly moving dramatic performance in "The Clock". During the filming of "The Harvey Girls", Garland was one of the top box-office draws in the nation, and Hollywood's most versatile actress. She performs the role of Susan Bradley, an adventurous mail order bride who befriends the Harvey girls en route to New Mexico, with a vibrant comic touch. Her ability to combine tongue in cheek humor with her signature vulnerability is very satisfying in this film, and is an early highlight in her already legendary career.

The rest of the cast is first-rate: Angela Lansbury gives a wickedly fine performance as Em, the jaded dance-hall queen with hooded eyes and no-flies-on-me attitude. John Hodiak is the local tough guy and dance-hall owner, and also the object of Garland and Lansbury's affections. Broadway legend (and Garland's "Wizard of Oz" co-star) Ray Bolger does an amusing turn as the town's rubber legged blacksmith, and Preston Foster is the murderous Judge Purvis. The ranks of the Harvey girls are filled by some of Hollywood's most marvelous character actresses, including Marjorie Main and Virginia O'Brien, and the dancer Cyd Charisse in one of her first roles.

The film boasts what New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther appreciatively called "an abundance of chromatic spectacle and an uncommonly good score", the centerpiece of which is the Academy Award-winning song of the year (1946), "On The Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe". This production number fills the screen with the colorful bustle of singers, dancers, and horses, and in the best Broadway tradition, advances the plot by introducing almost every cast member and giving them the opportunity to tell their story, in song, and their motivation for coming west in the first place. A spectacular bit of Golden Age musical magic, topped off by Garland's star turn entrance and full-throated belting of the Johnny Mercer/Harry Warren song.

The creative team behind this fable is as impressive as the talent in front of the camera. In addition to the score by Mercer and Warren, the film was directed by George Sidney ("Show Boat", "Annie Get Your Gun"), produced by Arthur Freed ("Singin In The Rain", "Gigi"), art directed by Cedric Gibbons ("The Great Zeigfeld", "The Wizard of Oz"), with musical direction by Lennie Hayton, orchestrations by Conrad Salinger, and musical arrangements by "Eloise" children's book author and singer Kay Thompson (a decade before she sizzled onscreen as the fashion magazine editor in the Audrey Hepburn classic "Funny Face").

This film will include restored Technicolor and stereo sound on DVD, and also a few musical numbers which were cut when the film was released due to length, and have been locked away in the MGM vaults. Now they have been restored, and the viewer can enjoy more of what film critic Howard Barnes called "a great big animated picture postcard."
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Good Light Entertainment
Snow Leopard24 September 2004
This works quite well as light entertainment. It has a good cast, with Judy Garland giving a lively performance in the lead role. The setting is rather stylized, but it is interesting, and it provides some good story material. The story has quite a few amusing moments, with just enough substance to keep it moving. There is also the top-notch "Atchison, Topeka, & the Santa Fe" number, which would almost make a musical worth watching all by itself.

The story of the conflict between the "Harvey Girls" and their rivals across the road is sometimes a little exaggerated, but it is relatively interesting and it makes for some good sequences. The female cast members get most of the best moments, and they generally use them well. Angela Lansbury seems quite natural as Garland's disagreeable nemesis, Virginia O'Brien has some good lines, and Marjorie Main is quite lively. There's more than enough to make it an enjoyable, if light, feature.
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6/10
Judy Garland at full steam...
moonspinner551 October 2005
Very appealing MGM musical with wonderful songs, colorful production, Judy Garland at the peak of her feisty charms. In the burgeoning days of train transportation, women are needed to work the eateries scattered throughout the Southwest; in a small New Mexico town, Judy decides to ditch her mail-order marriage for a waitressing job, but she soon finds love again. "On The Atchinson, Topeka and The Santa Fe" won a Best Song Oscar, and deservedly so; this grand number gets the full treatment, and is so exuberantly staged it becomes a classic by itself. The picture does runs short of ideas and inspiration near the end, leading to a poorly-staged romantic finale, yet the supporting cast is excellent, particularly Angela Lansbury as a jealous showgirl. *** from ****
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8/10
Lovely film and worth seeing
TheLittleSongbird23 June 2011
As a lover of musicals and of Judy Garland, I watched The Harvey Girls and I really liked it on the whole. The plot though is cardboard especially in the second half and John Hodiak for my liking gives a rather lacklustre performance. Still it is worth seeing. The film with its beautiful costumes, scenery and photography does look gorgeous, the music is fantastic particularly the climatic set-piece On the Atchison, Topeka and The Santa Fe, the choreography is magnificent and the first half is great fun. The film is directed lovingly by George Sidney, and while Angela Lansbury and Ray Bolger are excellent, this is Judy Garland's film and she is absolutely wonderful. Overall, a lovely film. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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7/10
No Vincente Minelli -- and it shows
TuckMN4 August 1999
The first person you see is Judy Garland singing an infinitely forgettable song.

For the most part it goes up from there.

This is a film that Vincente Minelly did not direct and even though it shows Judy at her demure best he had a knack for bringing out the best in her performances.

Surprisingly enough, this is not an entirely inaccurate history of the women that opened up the West -- just as much as the men did.

For those that do not know -- Fred Harvey was a railroad tycoon and visionary that realized that the United States could only expand Westward -- and he was there to help fulfill that dream.

His chain of "Railroad Hotels" (some of which still exist) and the women that staffed them, helped to civilize parts of the United States that were raw and uncultured.

This is one of those incredible films that has every face you have ever seen in a movie -- even if you do not always know their names: Ray Bolger, Preston Foster, Virginia O'Brien, John Hodiak, Angela Lansbury, Marjorie Main, Chill Wills and even Cyd Charisse.

This is cameo paradise and there is a character and face there for everyone.

The songs, the costumes, the sets and everything BUT the dialogue and story are top notch. But who needs a good script when you have a cast of STARS! (Especially Judy Garland.)

Take the good parts from this movie and try to pretend the rest never happened.
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7/10
Good, not great MGM musical
vincentlynch-moonoi27 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This is a good, but in my view, not great, musical. In it, a group of "Harvey Girls" (of the real and quite famous Harvey House restaurants along the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad lines) get off at the New Mexican town of Sandrock to open a new Harvey House. Among them are mostly young beauties, but also Marjorie Main, who is a hoot in this film, and Selena Royale, a once possible flame of Spencer Tracy's in his theater days. They meet up with Judy Garland, who is on her way to meet and marry a man whose flowery love letters overwhelmed her after answering a "lonely hearts" ad. Of course, the man turns out to be rather unsuitable -- it's cowboy Chill Wills...who turns out perfect for Marjorie Main (of course). But, she falls in hate and love and hate and love (you get the picture) with John Hodiak, the owner of a saloon. Garland becomes a Harvey Girl, and their defacto leader in their fight to maintain the restaurant. Who's the bad guy? Well, primarily a bad girl -- Angela Lansbury, along with the local judge. In the end, Lansbury turns out to be rather sweet, and Garland and Hodiak get married in the flowering desert.

The problem with this film are some of the actors chosen for key roles. I've been impressed with John Hodiak in some films, but here...well, not quite. And, Ray Bolger was disappointing here. Virginia O'Brien, who is usually quite good, disappeared halfway through the film because she became noticeably pregnant.

That's not to say there are not some good performances, as well. Judy Garland is super, as is Angela Lansbury (though her singing is dubbed). Marjorie Main and Chill Wills do nicely, too.

As I indicated, this is a good MGM musical, but not one of its best. Worth a watch, but except for fans of Garland, probably not one to reserve a spot for on your DVD shelf. Although the color is fantastic!
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8/10
Garland is as gallant as ever, and the colour is gorgeous
jem13226 February 2009
I really enjoyed this one, perfect hot lazy Saturday afternoon entertainment for me. Judy Garland as always is a treat to watch. This time the songbook isn't too memorable (apart from that great ensemble number near the beginning), and John Hodiak is sort of creepy as her leading man (his teeth and moustache look weird--he has none of the earthy sexuality of "Lifeboat"), but nevertheless I thought it was pretty good. It had enough humour, spots of melodrama and light musical numbers to keep me interested throughout. Plus, the colour is gorgeous, looking fantastic there on my HD TV. A young Cyd Charisse plays one of the "Harvey Girls", and she doesn't really get much of a chance to display her dancing talents, but she's still lovely to watch. Hard to believe Angela Lansbury was so young when she made this movie (early 20's I believe). Why did they turn her into a madam before her time? George Sidney, reliable MGM hand, directs and it's some of the best work I've seen from him yet. Apart from the ballads, the musical numbers are very fluid.
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8/10
Silly plot but fun
preppy-311 December 2004
Based on fact story about a bunch of women who were trained to be "Harvey Girls"--waitresses at restaurants for travelers from the railroad only. This follows a group of them starting up a restaurant in a small town in the desert. Among them is a young, pretty, naive girl (Judy Garland) who falls in love with a saloon owner (John Hodiak) but has competition from his rough, tough girlfriend (Angela Landsbury!).

The plot is silly but this is still a very good musical. It has a show-stopping Oscar Winning song ("On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe"); some beautiful Technicolor photography; very attractive women (even Marjorie Main looks good!); a few good songs and dances; Landsbury is a knockout playing a sex object (and gives a great performance) and Ray Bolger does a GREAT tap-dancing number.

On the downside: There is some hysterically bad back projection during the train rides; Hodiak was a pretty poor leading man (but he DOES try) and there are a number of forgettable songs. Also Garland seems way too pale and tired here.

Still this is one of the better MGM musicals. Worth catching.
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A significant early Technicolor movie musical; fascinating commentary track
dimplet28 August 2011
In his commentary, director George Sidney says Judy Garland did the scene where she gets off the train in one take, with only two cuts. Take a look at it; it has very complicated choreography involving dozens of actors, with the camera panning around, requiring precise positioning to fit the framing correctly.

Every movement of Judy's is perfect. Yet, Sidney says, she saw one run through of the scene before filming, and added some touches of her own in the one and only take. I've seen some beautiful long takes, such as in Harvey, but I've never seen anything like this. Be sure to watch the extras version of the song in stereo!

And then there were the stultifying long takes in High Society, where the actors' feet were nailed to the floor while the camera just stared at them. Borrring directing by Charles Walters. Here, Sidney does many long takes during musical numbers, but the camera moves around, panning from one actress to another as they do their little choreography. The camera work on the dance number Round and Round is amazing and beautiful. But during dialog, he uses shorter, static shots. The film holds your interest.

Garland had enormous talent as a singer and actress. Many early musicals were written for her, and before that in the 30s for Fred Astaire. It's hard to imagine the development of the Hollywood musical without Astaire and Garland, and later, Shirley Jones. Sidney talks about doing the original screen test of Judy, then Gumm.

Sidney explains how the title song was written. He told Harry Warren they needed a train song. Warren said, what's that? So Sidney tapped out a rhythm of train tracks clicking, and Warren instantly came up with the basic melody and rhythm, which, amazingly, just happens to fit "Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" perfectly.

Frankly the train arrival, with its colorful costumes and catchy tune, is the highlight of the movie. And then Chill Wills kissing Marjorie Main is pretty funny. Things turn a bit awkward from there, of course. Angela Lansbury looks pretty hot. John Hodiak is no Clark Gable, but I think he does a good job of being a hybrid bad guy turned good guy.

This is basically a pleasant enough film, which is interesting in its place in the history of the development of the musical. In the 30s, most musicals were modified revues, or had a role for a musician or dancer such as Fred Astaire to make the musical numbers plausible. The Wizard of Oz in 1939 may have been the first to drop that pretense, and also starred Garland, of course. (The first true modern musical was Snow White in 1937, but it is animated.)

George Sidney's Anchors Aweigh was another, and came out shortly before The Harvey Girls; he later directed several other early musicals, including another Western Annie Get Your Gun in 1950, and the remake of Showboat, a sort of prototype of the modern musical, in 1951. And then there were Kiss Me Kate, Viva Las Vegas and Bye Bye Birdie, so Sidney helped shape the modern musical, and this was one of his first works.

The Broadway version of Oklahoma! opened in 1943, but The Harvey Girls was the first movie musical Western, as Oklahoma! didn't come to the screen until 1955. The Harvey Girls didn't begin life as a musical; it was originally written to be a Western starring Clark Gable, but it stalled, so the music wasn't as well integrated as some later musicals. But I think changing it to a musical was the right move, given the story was a bit light.

Some reviewers here rant about the weak story line, but it is no where near as pathetic as Meet Me in St. Louis, which is a bare bones skeleton of a story. The modern musical combining strong story with music and dance that is not on stage was yet to come; this was an early stab, but, yes, the story is a bit weak, but not as bad as some say.

What makes the movie especially interesting is that there really were Harvey Houses and Harvey Girls, and they were the grand-daddy prototype of all modern chain-franchise restaurants. They were created as a national chain with a uniform reputation so train travelers could have a place to eat and sleep they knew would be good, unlike some earlier establishments that took advantage of travelers to gouge them with poor quality. Some eateries would serve food too hot to eat, knowing the traveler would have to leave on the train's schedule, before it cooled down (it was then recycled).

The Harvey Houses also brought a degree of civilization to the West; the conflict with the dance hall girls is not only credible, but was symbolic of the changes that were taking place.

Listen to Sidney's fascinating commentary. He mentions that FDR died during the shooting, and they had to suspend shooting for several days. Then they had to stop shooting for a few weeks when John Hodiak caught the measles. He also talks a lot about the history of the Hollywood studio system, including what happened the time he asked MGM as a director how much his movie was costing. They never told him.

Near the end he talks about whether he would remake The Harvey Girls:

"You should never remake a successful picture. The only picture you should remake is an unsuccessful picture. Because so many times when you see people and good picture makers remake a successful picture and they say, 'I've got to change it a little bit,' it doesn't quite work. So it's better to leave it alone."

He got that right!
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8/10
Fun & entertaining.
richardkiddle18 June 2020
It's true this movie has a thin plot but with so much acting talent, lavish costumes, bright musical numbers and of course Ms. Garland it really doesn't matter. Garland and Lansbury with their "handbags at dawn" schtick make this film a camp guilty pleasure for me. It's a perfect film for a rainy afternoon & guaranteed to lift your spirits. Sometimes you want simply to be entertained & not think deeply & this film hits that sweet spot.
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10/10
Great Spoof with Wonderful Music
LeonardKniffel11 April 2020
This musical seldom makes anybody's top-10 list, but it is perfect in almost every way, except for the sappy ending when Judy Garland and John Hodiak fall for each other, literally, and also fall almost completely out of character. Not only is the movie full of romantic songs, it is also funny as all get out. Watch Virginia O'Brien teach a queasy Ray Bolger to shoe a horse as she sings about "The Wild, Wild West." "Swing Your Partner Round and Round" showcases the comedic skills of Chill Wills and Marjorie Main. Angela Lansbury (with one of the most durable careers in show business history) is delightful as the tough bordello madam with a heart of gold, singing "Oh You Kid" (although why she was dubbed by Virginia Rees is anybody's guess). This is a perfect antidote to the serious film westerns that assert guns tamed the West, whereas this film makes a convincing case for classy waitresses. Garland's scene with a pair of six shooters shows her gift for comedy and her ability to switch to romance in a flash. My particular favorite is "It's a Great Big World," sung by the dancing trio of Garland, O'Brien, Cyd Charisse. The Oscar-winning "On the Atcheson Topeka and the Santa Fe" is one of Garland's finest moments on the silver screen. On YouTube, you can watch her singing "March of the Dogies"; this scene was cut from the film and is far better than many songs left in most other movies. ---from Musicals on the Silver Screen, American Library Association, 2013
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8/10
Good film, Garland pretty as always
richspenc31 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Very good film, maybe not the very best of Judy's, but there are no bad Judy Garland films. A film will never be that bad with that pretty, beautiful voiced angel on the screen, no matter how bad the rest of the film is.

"The Harvey girls" had some pretty good parts. The Harvey girls were a group of girls who took the train down to the old west town of Sandrock in the 19th century. Judy was on the train with them, and very hungry with nothing but a half slice of bread while seeing other girls holding big pieces of fried chicken. Then this little girl stops and looks at Judy begging for something to eat. I was sort of curious why she begged Judy for food when she hardly had anything when there was clearly those other girls nearby with the big pieces of fried chicken and such (including a corned beef sandwich that one of the girls had Judy try a couple moments later). Well perhaps she didn't see the other girls' food, she was quite small. Once the train arrived in Sandrock, the girls, and the townfolk started singing the best song of the film, "The Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe". Across the street was an old west saloon with drinking, rowdyness, and burlesque girls led by Angela Langsbury, who they and saloon owner Jon Hodiak did not like the Harvey girls moving into their town. Judy was on her way to Sandrock to marry a man there she'd never met yet but had been writing and receiving letters from. Once there, Judy found out that the whole thing was a prank. Judy, upset, confronted the man behind the prank, John, who retaliated, Judy retaliated back. Then things between John and other members of the saloon and Judy and the other Harvey girls (who Judy now joined) escalated. John and his crew stole the Harvey girl's meat. Judy came into the saloon holding two guns demanding it back (she did look sort of comical and silly doing that). John had one of his friends, the town judge, shoot a bullet through the Harvey girl's window as they were going to bed. At one point, there was a literal brawl between the burlesque girls and the Harvey girls (which did looka sort of corny). Judy's singing definitely, as always, was beautiful. The song "Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa fe" was wonderful, very elaborate with nearly the entire town taking part in it. The middle of the song parts with different girls singing their personal lines which were charming such as Virginia O'brien with "I said goodbyo Ohio" and one of the other girls with "I came from Paris, was married in Paris, almost buried in Paris, so I then left Paris, (girls join in) Paris, Illinois". I liked that. I also liked Judy, Virginia, and Cyd Charrise singing "It's a great big world", and the girls' "Round and round" at the dance. All beautiful songs. There was also some of Ray Bulger's ("Oz" scarecrow) rubber legged dancing. Ray became the new blacksmith who was to say the least, sort of a coward of guns shooting off and of horses. Maybe they should've had Bert Lair as the cowardly lion play this part instead of Ray the scarecrow. I liked Virginia joining in to help out Ray shoe the horse. The scene with Cyd and the saloon piano player singing "Just you wait and see" was very nice. I love Cyd Charrise. I also liked a scene with Judy and John outside of the town with them sitting down againced some rocks. Then when they get up, John trips and Judy laughed. Her laughter there reminded me of her laughter in "Girl crazy" when she kept laughing at Mickey Rooney. I love Judy's laugh. I love her singing, her passion, and her beauty. I love Judy Garland. There is no bad Judy movie.
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8/10
Fantastic score:"On the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe"
fredyfriedlander3 January 2003
This very nice movie has a superb cast, starting with Judy Garland, always excellent. I enjoyed particularly the interpretation of several characters actors, including Marjorie Main, Chill Will, Selena Royle and (the at that moment) still not very popular CYd Charisse. Also note that Ray Bolger is very funny. Even John Hodiak does not disappoint. But above all the famous song "In the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe" is unforgettable. For all this I believe this movie deserves 8 points.
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9/10
My favourite Judy musical!
Calysta29 January 2000
In the 1940s given any chance, MGM could turn anything that anyone did which slightly made it historically, into a movie. However, their tribute to the real life Harvey Girls of the Old West makes for surprisingly brilliant entertainment.

Hollywood's Golden Studio once again successfully turned an American Girls story into one of the biggest smash hits of 1946.

On a mid budget, "The Harvey Girls" is beautifully photographed in splendid technicolour, and conjures up delightful imagery with its lovely instrumental pieces. Set decoration has an eye for detail, with sets being mostly convincing, and the great costumes.

All technical elements aside, the musical score for the film, as in most Judy Garland movies, the film boasts an excellent score. "It's a Great Big World", sung and danced by Judy and two other fellow Harvey Girls in their night gowns, and the beautifully staged "Round and Round". The famous highlight is the hummable Academy Award best song of 1946 "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe". It is one of the most imaginatively staged numbers in history.

"The Harvey Girls" benefits greatly from supporting players, including Ray Bolger and Angela Lansbury. But the musical's fun and infectious drawing power is due to the strong central performance of Judy Garland as winsome Susan Bradley.

Possibly one of the best MGM screenplays written directly for the screen, this is proven over and over with some brilliantly humourous classic comedic moments, including the meat hold up and the battle between the Harvey Girls and the Saloon Girls.

Happiness, sugar, absurd and silly moments, combined with comedy and some of the best musical songs, this an obscure movie musical which deserves more credibility as a near perfected masterpiece. It is old fashioned movie magic that isn't made the way they used to.

Most puzzling of all, it works!

Rating: 9/10
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10/10
A musical masterpiece
lgoodman16 March 1999
While the non-subtle male chauvinism in this movie becomes a bit much in places, the lovely songs, particularly 'The Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe,' sung by Judy Garland, make up for it all. The historical Harvey Girls probably didn't sing that well, but this is a sweet movie in tribute to one of the few female presences in the Old West worthy of commemoration. The spark between Judy Garland and John Hodiak is tangible, and makes this movie really worth watching.
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10/10
Terrific Movie
spark-1327 February 2000
Judy Garland was in great form singing and falling in love (as her character Susan Bradley) with John Hodiak, a much under-rated actor. I thought Hodiak was at his most handsome in this film and combined great physical appeal with ruggedness. I watch this film over and over.
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Judy is a joy to watch
Estella2 September 1999
Having been a fan of Judy for about 5 years now, I have seen a lot of her movies, and this is one of my faves (well, lets face it, any Judy film has got to be great simply because she's in it) Who cares that this might be 'historicaly inaccurate' or that it doesn't have much of a plot. The fact is, it has Judy, and she has got to be the best thing in it. She lights up the screen whenever she is on it. The scene in the train with her and Angela Lansbury is touching (Angela is the other god thing about the film) and John Hodiak makes a nice leading man. All in all, a lovely little film that you can watch on a nice afternoon with some choclate!
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"On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe..."
Ash-6519 March 1999
There's your plot right there. No, I'm just kidding. Sort of. See, this movie doesn't have much of a story, so the numbers kind of fill in. Judy's lovely and in great voice, Virginia O'Brien is dead-pan (as always) and Cyd, unfortunately has only one short number. Lame movie, but the poor girls can't do anything about it. Excellent songs though... See it if you're a fan of any of the cast (even scary Marjorie Main).
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10/10
Excellent.
gkeith_127 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Excellent movie. Lots of singing and dancing. Bolger superb in his leaping, traveling tap dance. Main always good. Loved her purple dance outfit. Judy the best. Led the whole group in the train song. Very energetic and nicely choreographed. I marveled at how Judy weaved/wove in and out of the other players during the train song, at close range. This looked quite tricky. Many large group dance numbers have members way further apart. Lots of dance scenes have the dancers in huge, long rows, but this group in Harvey Girls has all mingled together. Wills, Main and Judy were in Meet Me in Saint Louis. Judy and Bolger were in Wizard of Oz.

Hodiak cute and sweet; Preston a perfect bad guy. Lansbury can play a vicious bad lady; rather soft hearted at the end. Lansbury I also saw in a musical show in the movie Till the Clouds Roll By (I think that's the one; she is on a swing on stage -- also mid nineteen forties).

Charisse excellent. O'Brien her usual deadpan excellence. The singing piano player sweet on Charisse was very charming.

Judy's wedding gown wonderful. Reminded me of her wedding gown in the later forties movie The Pirate. Was this the same costume? The Pirate was 1948/1949, only two to three years later.

Another major star in this movie was the train, lol.

One problem, however, but it is of the times. Girls was the word. Judy was a girl getting married to a man out west. She never thought of herself as a woman. As far as the girls of the restaurant, maybe they were never thought of as adult women, either.

Women's biggest aspirations were to get married. Waitresses is another politically incorrect word today. Waitressing was a planned career in those days? A way to get off the farm? Two schoolteachers ditched the life for slugging steaks to the cowhands. What the???? How ridiculous.

This was a post World War II confection. It was mostly happy and carefree. How many of the cowhand actors had fought in World War II? How many of the actresses had been Rosie the Riveter on their way up to movie life?

Still, IMO this movie is still way better than the typical shoot-down-plane bang bang war movies of that time period. Enough of the fighting and killing. Hurray for this type of singing and dancing confection, and kudos to Judy for heading this stellar ensemble cast.

10/10
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