The Harvey Girls
|The Harvey Girls|
|Directed by||George Sidney
Robert Alton (musical number)
|Produced by||Arthur Freed|
|Written by||Samuel Hopkins Adams (novel)
Kay Van Riper
|Music by||Harry Warren (music)
Johnny Mercer (lyrics)
Lennie Hayton (score)
|Cinematography||George J. Folsey|
|Editing by||Albert Akst|
|Release date(s)||January 18, 1946|
|Running time||102 minutes|
|Budget||$2.5 million (est.)|
|Box office||$4,350,000 (US/ Canada rentals) |
The Harvey Girls is a 1946 MGM musical film based on the 1942 novel of the same name by Samuel Hopkins Adams, about Fred Harvey's famous traveling waitresses. Directed by George Sidney, the film stars Judy Garland, John Hodiak, Angela Lansbury, Virginia O'Brien, Ray Bolger, and Marjorie Main. It won an Academy Award for Best Song for "On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe", written by Johnny Mercer and Harry Warren. The film was a product of the Arthur Freed unit at MGM.
A group of "Harvey Girls", new waitresses for Fred Harvey's pioneering chain of Harvey House restaurants, travels on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe (AT&SF) Railway to the western fictional town of Sandrock, apparently somewhere in Arizona. On the trip they meet Susan Bradley (Judy Garland), who travels to the same town to marry the man whose beautiful letters she received when she answered a "lonely-hearts" ad. Unfortunately, when she arrives, the man turns out to be an "old coot" who does not at all meet her expectations – and he also wants not to get married as much as she wants not to marry him, so they agree to call it off. When she learns that someone else, the owner of the local saloon, Ned Trent (John Hodiak), wrote the letters as a joke, she confronts him and tells him off, in the process endearing herself to him.
Then Susan joins the Harvey Girls, and she soon becomes their leader in fighting against the attempts by Trent's business associate, Judge Sam Purvis (Preston Foster), to scare them off – and against the animosity of the dance-hall girls and, apparently, prostitutes, led by Em (Angela Lansbury), who is in love with Trent, and who sees Susan as a rival. Trent visits to see the value of the Harvey House and other trappings of civilization, then he tells Purvis to leave them alone, but Purvis continues with his campaign of intimidation, finally burning down the restaurant. Trent offers his saloon as a replacement, and Em and the dance-hall girls leave town. Susan, thinking that Trent too is leaving, gets on the train, but Em, seeing that Susan loves Trent so much that she's willing to give up everything for him, stops the train and points out Trent, riding toward them on his horse. The film ends with their wedding in the desert, surrounded by the Harvey Girls.
- Judy Garland as Susan Bradley
- John Hodiak as Ned Trent
- Ray Bolger as Chris Maule
- Angela Lansbury as Em
- Preston Foster as Judge Sam Purvis
- Virginia O'Brien as Alma
- Kenny Baker as Terry O'Hara
- Marjorie Main as Sonora Cassidy
- Chill Wills as H.H. Hartsey
- Selena Royle as Miss Bliss
- Cyd Charisse as Deborah Andrews
- Ruth Brady as Ethel
- Jack Lambert as Marty Peters
- Edward Earle as Jed Adams
- Morris Ankrum as Rev. Claggett
- Stephen McNally as "Goldust" McClean
- Virginia Rees as Singing voice for Angela Lansbury
- Marion Doenges as Singing voice for Cyd Charisse
- Cast notes
- This was the first speaking role on film for Cyd Charisse.
- Byron Harvey Jr., the grandson of Fred Harvey who was at the time of filming the president of the Fred Harvey Company, had an uncredited role as a train conductor.
The Harvey Girls was conceived by MGM as a dramatic vehicle for Lana Turner, but Roger Edens, of the Arthur Freed unit, decided, after seeing the musical Oklahoma!, that the story should be reworked as MGM's western musical with Judy Garland as its star. Unfortunately, Garland wanted to work with Fred Astaire on Yolanda and the Thief, which was directed by her husband at the time, Vincente Minnelli, and she was not then interested in the part. Edens convinced her that the part in Yolanda was not large enough for her, and he promised that Harvey Girls would be specifically created to showcase her talents.
The Harvey Girls filmed from 12 January through 4 June 1945, a rather long production period. Studio filming was at MGM's Culver City studios, and location shooting took place at the Iverson Ranch in Victorville, at Chatsworth (near Los Angeles), and in Monument Valley.
Although Angela Lansbury was a fine singer in her own right, her voice was considered unsuitable for her character, a low-class saloon singer, so all of her singing in the film was dubbed by Virginia Rees. Cyd Charisse, who had her first speaking role in the film, also had her singing dubbed, by Marion Doenges.
Virginia O'Brien, a comic actress known for her deadpan style of singing, was pregnant while The Harvey Girls was filmed, and as a result some of her scripted scenes with Ray Bolger were never filmed, because her condition was becoming difficult to hide, while others that were filmed were cut from the final print. This accounts for O'Brien's and Bolger's characters more or less disappearing from the film after O'Brien sings "Wild Wild West". Bolger sustained a burn injury by steam during the filming of On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe.
The Harvey Girls was released in the USA on 18 January 1946.
Production credits 
- Art Direction - William Ferrari and Cedric Gibbons
- Set Decoration - Mildred Griffiths and Edwin B. Willis
- Costume Design - Irene Gibbons, Helen Rose, Valles
- Makeup Artist - Dorothy Ponedel
- Production Manager - Dave Friedman
- Assistant Director - George Rhein
- Sound Director - Douglas Shearer
- Special Effects - Warren Newcombe
- Choreographer - Robert Alton
- Musical director - Lennie Hayton
- Orchestrator - Conrad Salinger
- "In the Valley (Where the Evening Sun Goes Down)"
- "Wait and See"
- "On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe"
- "Oh, You Kid"
- "It's a Great Big World"
- "Swing Your Partner Round and Round"
- "The Wild, Wild West"
- "The Train Must Be Fed"
By far the biggest hit from the score of The Harvey Girls was "On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe". MGM released the song to record companies even before shooting was finished on the film, and it became an instant hit dominating the airwaves through the summer and fall of 1945, with versions by Bing Crosby with Six Hits and a Miss, Judy Garland and The Merry Macs, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with the Sentimentalists, and, the most popular, Johnny Mercer and The Pied Pipers. Mercer's version entered the Billboard charts on 5 July 1945, and stayed on it for 16 weeks, including seven straight weeks as #1 between 28 July and 8 September. Crosby's entered the charts on 19 July and stayed ten weeks, going as high as #4, while Dorsey's came on on 2 August and stayed for six weeks, peaking at #6. Garland's hit the Billboard #10 position on 20 September. The song was also number 1 on Your Hit Parade for eight weeks running.
In shooting the number for the film, Garland reportedly did the entire song up to the tempo change in one take, twice.
Cut from the film were three other songs written by Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer for it: "March of the Doagies," "Hayride" and "My Intuition." "Doagies" was a production number featuring Judy Garland, and "My Intuition" was a duet for Garland and John Hodiak. Both of those number were filmed, while "Hayride", a duet for Garland and Ray Bolger was prerecorded but not filmed.
The New York Herald Tribune: "A great big animated picture postcard. Judy Garland is the film's bright [-] star. Miss Garland is effectively glamorized in get-ups of the (18)90's and sings her songs pleasantly. The Harvey Girls is a perfect demonstration of what Hollywood can do with its vast resources when it wants to be really showy [-] pretty girls - period sets and costumes - lilting tunes -- super-speedy dance shuffles."(Howard Barnes).
The New York Daily News: "A nostalgic whiff of the old west. Judy sings several sentimental ballads, as well as On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe number. Her chief support in the way of real entertainment comes from Ray Bolger."
Time: "A technicolored musical celebrating the coming of chastity, clean silverware, and crumbless tablecloths to the pioneer Southwest. The bearers of this culture, according to evidence presented here, were waitresses. The Harvey Girls is good fun in spots. Miss Garland doesn't seem as recklessly happy as she was in St. Louis but she still appears to be having a pretty fine time."
"On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe" won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer. In addition, Lennie Hayton's score was nominated for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture, but did not win.
Further Reading 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: The Harvey Girls (film)|
- The Harvey Girls at the Internet Movie Database
- The Harvey Girls at the TCM Movie Database
- The Harvey Girls at AllRovi
- The Harvey Girls at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Judy Garland Online Discography "The Harvey Girls" pages.