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Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Harvey Girls (1946)

When a mail order bride (Judy Garland), who has never seen her intended husband (Chill Wills), arrives in a small Arizona town, the pair realize they are ill suited for each other. So she becomes a waitress at the brand new Fred Harvey restaurant which is disliked by the town's saloon owner (John Hodiak) and his associate (Preston Foster) because it signals the arrival of civilization to the West. This bright and cheery MGM musical may not be as innovative as some of their more prestigious musical vehicles, but it's quite a congenial effort. Garland is in fine voice but the screenplay allows other cast members like Ray Bolger, Cyd Charisse (in her first acting role), Marjorie Main and Virginia O'Brien their musical moments too. The film's musical highlight is the sensational Oscar winning On The Atchison, Topeka And The Santa Fe production number, one of the great sequences in movie musical history. Outside of this film, I'd never heard of the Fred Harvey chain but apparently the film's thin storyline has a basis in historical fact. Directed by George Sidney. With Angela Lansbury as Garland's brassy saloon hostess rival, Stephen McNally, Kenny Baker, Selena Royle and Morris Ankrum.

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