THE HARVEY GIRLS (1946) C 102m dir: George Sidney
w/Judy Garland, John Hodiak, Angela Lansbury, Ray Bolger, Virginia O'Brien, Marjorie Main, Cyd Charisse, Preston Foster, Chill Wills, Kenny Baker, Selena Royale
Good score, terrific performances (particularly by Garland, Bolger, and Lansbury), and an ordinary story add up to a fairly entertaining musical. Pseudo-fact-based tale of a group of young ladies who go to the wild west to become waitresses in a Fred Harvey restaurant provides the backdrop for some nice production numbers.
From Variety's review of the film: "The Harvey Girls [based on the novel by Samuel Hopkins Adams and the original story by Eleanore Griffin and William Rankin] is a curious blend of Technicolor wild-westernism, frontier town skullduggery and a troupe of Harvey restaurant waitresses who deport themselves in a manner that's a cross between a sorority and a Follies troupe.
"John Hodiak is a curious casting in a musical of this nature. Judy Garland, however, makes much of it believable and most of it acceptable. Angela Lansbury is prominent as the Mae West of the casino, Hodiak's No.1 flame until Garland, Virginia O'Brien and Cyd Charisse appear on the scene.
"There's the usual fol-de-rol such as hijacking all the good steaks; snakes in the Harvey gals's closets; incendiary tactics and the like."
The song "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" won an Oscar and became a Garland standard. Lennie Hayton was also nominated for Best Scoring of the film.