Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Harvey Girls (1946)

"When Fred Harvey pushed his chain of restaurants
farther and farther west along the lengthening
tracks of the Santa Fe, he brought with him one of
the first civilizing forces this land had known - - - -

These winsome waitresses conquered the west as
surely as the Davy Crocketts and the Kit Carsons
- - - not with powder horn and rifle,
but with a beefsteak and a cup of coffee.

To these unsung pioneers, whose successors today
still carry on in the same tradition, we sincerely ded-
icate this motion picture."

There is some truth in this grandiose introduction to the film. (The real mystery to me is why they have to run a word off the end of a line on a title card? Was kerning not invented yet?)

I really liked this movie, better than Oklahoma. Maybe it's because Judy Garlands character plays a tough girl who dreams bigs, takes risks, stands up to armed men, and can handle disappointment. Unlike simpering Laury from Oklahoma who has half-hour-long dance-number nightmares. I guess that's not fair to Laury, she does have her fiesty moments. I just like Judy Garland's I guess.

Judy plays a girl who answers an ad for a mail-order bride and on the strength of some beautifully-written letters heads west. On the train she meets a bunch of Harvey Girls - waitresses for a new Harvey Restaurant. After a number or two on the train, she arrives with the girls in bumfu- I mean Sand Rock - only to discover that it's no a humble rancher that has written her letters, but a saloon owner. The probably illiterate and goofy-looking rancher comes clean and they call off the wedding, so Judy becomes a Harvey Girl.

There are a couple of great songs, like the "Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" which is very reminiscent of the Trolley song in "Meet Me in St. Louis" (wild singing romp around a train with Judy Garland? I'm in!)

I like the bit characters. There is the ornery old maid cook who I think was a regular on I Love Lucy, too, because she is very familiar.

Angela Lansbury plays a cooch dancer in love with the saloon owner. She does a number "Oh You Kid" in which she is like Mae West only smoother and slicker. It's awesome. She's a buxom blonde. Kim had to be given a fairly good clue before she guessed that this was the star of "Murder She Wrote". (Me: Guess who that is? Kim: I don't know, Merle Oberon? Me: No Kim: I don't know Me: I'll give you a clue, she plays a detective Kim: Murder She Wrote!)

I'm really fond of this movie. Four stars. I only planned to skim through it since I watched it once last year, but I'm happily watching it again.


Cheryl said...

Judy Garland is pretty watchable in everything she's in.

I'm impressed that you know the word "kerning." I had to look it up.

Nicole Newcomb said...

I just found your blog and absolutely love it. I loved this movie and I thought that John Hodiak and Judy made a great couple.