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The Harvey Girls

4.5 out of 5 stars 163 customer reviews

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(Apr 30, 2001)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Musical western about a mail order bride who ditches her bashful suitor and joins a group of women intent on opening a remote whistle stop restaurant.

Sometimes lively, sometimes pokey, this Technicolor MGM musical inspires mixed feelings in aficionados of the form--except on one point. No viewer will question why "On the Atchison, Topeka, & the Santa Fe" won the best song Oscar for 1946. This is a brilliant, inventive song given an epic staging. Director George Sidney pulls out all the stops for this wowser--even Marjorie Main sings, an eardrum-testing sound. The real-life Harvey Girls were waitresses imported to the far-flung Fred Harvey Hotels, civilizing oases along the railroad lines out west. The fictional Harvey Girls is set in Sandrock, where the traveling waitresses are joined by a sort of mail-order bride (Judy Garland) whose prospective husband is a bust--he's a roughhewn rancher played by Chill Wills. Garland is in fine spunky form; unfortunately, her romance is with John Hodiak (as the owner of a dance hall), that uninspiring World War II-era lead. The film's other great Johnny Mercer-Harry Warren song is the unexpectedly melancholy "It's a Great Big World," performed in a lovely trio by Garland, Virginia O'Brien, and the young Cyd Charisse. The tall, deadpan O'Brien also does a comic take on "The Wild, Wild West" while shoeing a horse. With kewpie-faced Angela Lansbury as a bespangled dance-hall gal and Ray Bolger high-stepping through a dance solo, there are enough good people on board to keep the wheels a-turning "all the way to Californ-eye-yay." --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • Three deleted musical numbers: "My Intuition" and the original and reprise of "March of the Doagies"
  • "On the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe" sequence remixed in stereo
  • Singsong express audio track trainload of scoring session music cues

Product Details

  • Actors: Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, John Hodiak, Angela Lansbury, Preston Foster
  • Directors: George Sidney
  • Writers: Edmund Beloin, Eleanore Griffin, Harry Crane, James O'Hanlon, Kay Van Riper
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: April 30, 2001
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005Y71M
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,404 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Harvey Girls" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Hats off to Ted Turner's crew and their partners at Warner Home Video for a simply stunning DVD presentation of THE HARVEY GIRLS. The film looks sumptuous. A thrilling example of Technicolor at its most splendid. Although THE HARVEY GIRLS is a thoroughly delightful entertainment, there isn't much substance to the plot. It seems to hardly matter, as the film's major virtues are its great score by Johnny Mercer and Harry Warren, superb performances from a great cast, and of course, the peerless Judy Garland.
If anyone else had played the lead in this picture, it would have been long forgotten. This is Judy's show, all the way, and everything about it is designed to show off her immense talents.
She is at the top of her form here...looking lovely, singing gorgeously, dancing with aplomb, and handling both dramatic and comedic scenes better than anyone else could ever dream to. The biggest highlight of the film is the mammoth eight-minute production number ON THE ATCHISON, TOPEKA, AND THE SANTA FE which ended up winning a Best Song Oscar. This sequence alone is worth the price of the DVD, and the Warner Home Video people give us an extra bonus by presenting the number separately in TRUE STEREO! Astounding!
The supplementary materials are vast and beautifully assembled. The commentary by recently-deceased director George Sidney was fortunately captured for this release, and his thoughts and reminiscences are entertaining and charming. There were four musical numbers intended for this picture which were cut before release. MARCH OF THE DOAGIES and its reprise and MY INTUITION are the three that were filmed, and they are included on this DVD, looking like they were filmed yesterday (actually they look TOO good to have been filmed in this day and age).
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Format: VHS Tape
This is one of my personal favorites of the Judy Garland collection. "The Harvey Girls" has everything you could ask for in a bright, bouncy MGM musical: song, dance, comedy, drama, romance, action and fun. Garland plays Susan Bradley, a young Ohio girl who sets out to Arizona to wed, but instead decides to join a group of Harvey girls, waitresses at the newly established Harvey House. "Wherever a Harvey House stands, civilization is not far behind." The girls want to try to civilize the town of lusty cowpokes... but they have competition: an infamous brothel across the street, boasting some, er, charming madams headed by the sassy Em (a young Angela Lansbury)... and they are equally determined to drive the reforming parties out of town. They steal a cache of beef from the House (which gives us a hilarious scene in which Garland goes to retrieve the meat), shoot down chandeliers in the girls' bed chambers, and plant rattlesnakes in their dressing rooms. Between these messy episodes, Garland manages to find love with a young man (John Hodiak)... who also just happens to run the brothel. This film has a wonderful musical score, including the Oscar-winning "On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe", "It's A Great Big World", and "Oh,You Kid!" among them. Certainly one of MGM's best musicals with a great supporting cast: including in fact, a post-Scarecrow Ray Bolger ("The Wizard of Oz"), Cyd Charisse, Chill Wills, and Virginia O'Brien, "The Harvey Girls" is a great big, bawdy musical that's always worth seeing.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I originally saw this lush technicolor musical on a Sunday afternoon (when I was in high school) wedged between commercials for detergents, paper towels, and various other household products. Despite the film being interrupted with these ads and being shown on a small tv screen, I was captivated by Judy Garland's beauty, sincerity, power to communicate as an artist, and her incomparable talent to act, sing, dance, and charm. This film does not have the same status as Meet Me in St. Louis or The Pirate or A Star is Born, but it is one of her best performances presented with a calmness and freshness that puts you, the viewer, at ease. Her character Susan Bradley is one of her best portrayals. She is funny, courageous, witty, determined, and strong. Like Esther Smith in Meet Me in St. Louis or Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz or Lily Mars in Presenting Lily Mars, Susan Bradley is a winner, the kind of woman you respect and admire, especially considering the time period the film was set in.

This dvd release is a true gift to those of us who are not only Judy Garland fans, but to anyone who has ever enjoyed the film musical. I won't rehash all the details found in other reviews of Amazon customers about the dvd, but I will add that the color transfer is simply awesome. It DOES look like the film was shot recently, not way back in 1945. The deleted musical numbers and the recording sessions for the songs is an extreme necessity for any Garland fan. I am really sorry they cut "My Intuition" since it's the only time Garland and John Hodiak sang together in the film, but I can understand why they cut "March of the Doagies." Don't get me wrong: I like it, but it almost looks a chase for Frankenstein's monster with Judy ending up on a stake being burned alive!
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