The Harvey Girls - Promotional ImageCharming and sweet aren’t often used to describe a Western, but they do fit THE HARVEY GIRLS, the 1946 Western musical from MGM that was Sheila Ellis’s choice for this Western Night movie gathering.

The film moves right along, much like “The Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe,” the well-known Oscar-winning tune sung during the dazzling arrival of the train carrying the new Harvey House waitresses to the town of Sandrock in New Mexico Territory.

The costumes truly pop in vivid technicolor There’s not a strand of hair out of place, not a piece of clothing unpressed. Well, except for H.H. Hartsey (Chill Wills), a rumpled rancher waiting at the train station for his mail order bride, Susan Bradley (Judy Garland, THE WIZARD OF OZ). How that sticky business gets resolved is neatly handled, thus allowing her to get work as a Harvey Girl.

Competition sparks between the Harvey House restaurant, with its gracious manners and superb food, and the gilt and glitter of the Alhambra, the saloon across the street populated by gamblers and dance hall girls. And romance quickly develops between feisty Susan and Ned Trent (John Hodiak, excellent in LIFEBOAT), the slick Alhambra owner. But Trent’s svelte saloon singer Em, (Angela Lansbury, GASLIGHT) doesn’t care to be pushed aside and let’s Susan know it. (One Hollywood story goes that after the film was released, Lansbury was frequently hissed at in public because she played the adored Judy Garland’s spiteful rival.)

Ironically, THE HARVEY GIRLS was originally intended as a drama for Lana Turner, but after OKLAHOMA! became a hit on Broadway two years earlier, MGM was anxious to make a musical Western.

Based on a novel by Samuel Hopkins Adams, it took eight writers to turn THE HARVEY GIRLS into a movie musical, with the team of Johnny Mercer and Harry Warren providing the tunes. While some of the songs are true showstoppers in the best sense, others, though not bad, stop the story cold.

With a running time of 1 hour and 42 minutes, THE HARVEY GIRLS is available on Amazon Prime and You Tube for rent, and on Blu-ray and DVD.

Along with Sheila, our group includes Johnny D, Boggs, record nine-time Spur Award-winning and Owen Wister Award-winning author whose work includes the excellent A THOUSAND TEXAS LONGHORNS, Kirk Ellis, Emmy winning screenwriter and producer and also author of the book RIDE LONESOME about the production, themes and historical relevance of that classic Western film, David Morrell, award-winning author and New York Times best-selling author of FIRST BLOOD that introduced the character Rambo, and Robert Nott, award-winning journalist and author of several books on Western films, including his most recent, THE FILMS OF BUDD BOETTICHER.

Preview “The Harvey Girls”

Thomas Clagett Post Image - Western BG

Subscribe Today!

Join my mailing list to receive the latest news, events, and information about new book releases.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This