Favorite things about… The Harvey Girls (1946)

The favorite film:
The Harvey Girls, a 1946 technicolor musical directed by George Sidney

(Image via Pinterest)
(Image via Doctor Macro)

The synopsis:
Susan Bradley is taking the train west to marry a man she’s been corresponding with via letters. On the train, she meets a gaggle of lovely women who are headed to the same town as she. They are “Harvey Girls” – waitresses who will work at the new Harvey House, part of chain of restaurants that provide great service, great food and a wholesome environment to railroad travelers. Susan decides to join them as a waitress when her plans to marry don’t work out, and she finds herself caught up in a rivalry with the staff of the Alhambra, a saloon just across the street from the Harvey House.

The cast:

  • Judy Garland as Susan Bradley
  • John Hodiak as Ned Trent, owner of the Alhambra
  • Angela Lansbury as Em, a lady of the saloon
  • Virginia O’Brien as Alma
  • Marjorie Main as Sonora Cassidy
  • Selena Royle as Miss Bliss
  • Ray Bolger as Chris Maule
  • Cyd Charisse as Deborah
  • Chill Wills as Mr. Hartsey

Fun facts:

  • Lana Turner and Clark Gable were originally pegged to star, and there would have been no music. With the success of Oklahoma! on the stage, the studio decided to make it a musical, and the roles were re-cast.
  • Harvey Houses were a real chain of restaurants, which were frequently connected to hotels. Many historians consider them to be the first chain restaurants ever operated in the United States. They provided affordable rooms and meals for train travelers.
  • Virginia O’Brien’s character disappears half-way through the film because she was pregnant during filming and it became too difficult to hide the pregnancy.
  • Byron Harvey Jr., grandson of Harvey House founder Fred Harvey, has an uncredited role in the film as a train conductor.
  • Angela Lansbury and Cyd Charisse’s singing voices were dubbed by Virginia Rees and Marion Doenges, respectively.
  • “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe” became the most popular song of the year.
  • The design of the Harvey House in this film was inspired by the Castaneda Harvey House, located in New Mexico, which really was located across the street from a saloon.
(Image via Dena Sandelier on Pinterest)
(Image via Dena Sandelier on Pinterest)

Favorite things & quotes:

  • “When Fred Harvey pushed his chain of restaurants farther and farther West along the Santa Fe, he brought with him one of the first civilizing forces this land had known – THE HARVEY GIRLS. These winsome waitresses conquered the West as surely as the Davy Crocketts and the Kit Carsons – – – not with a powderhorn and rifle, but with a beefsteak and a cup of coffee.”
  • JUDY!
  • MARJORIE MAIN!
  • “You girls are the symbol and the promise of the order that is to come.”
  • Susan trying to ignore the child who wants her food, and staring longingly at the fried chicken that the Harvey Girls have.
  • “I once sent my picture to a lonely hearts’ club, but it came back marked ‘We’re not that lonely.'”
  • The colors, the costumes!
  • “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe!”
  • RAY BOLGER! (It’s so much fun to see him paired with Judy once again, out of the scarecrow costume.)
  • “School maaaarms, from Grand Rapids, Mich!”
  • Susan’s husband-to-be getting a swift beating after mistaking Sonora for Miss Bradley
  • “I wanna marry you somethin’ awful, but please ma’am, please say no!”
  • “I don’t know if you’re a thief or a murderer, but I know one thing – YOU’RE WORSE!”
  • “The train must be fed!”
  • John Hodiak is so perfectly cast in this film. Slightly smarmy, but also incredibly charming.
  • “In a place like this, you don’t blow on your soup. You fan it with your hat!”
  • Susan holding up the saloon with a revolver in each hand to get the Harvey steaks back. This scene is a riot!
  • Susan (after placing a raw steak in front of Ned): “One steak, VERY RARE!”
  • “I don’t know whether we’re the three musketeers or the three blind mice.”
  • “My goodness me, it’s a great big world.”
  • Susan is fearless, confronting Ned and the Alhambra crew readily on more than one occasion, even after the Harvey House has been shot at!
  • That confrontation between Susan and Em!
  • Maule’s fear of horses. “I’m brave!… I’m determined!… I’m fearless!… I’m a liar.”
  • Alma taking over Maule’s job
  • “I was hopin’ to be ropin’ somethin’ wild in the wild, wild west.”
  • Ned (to Susan, post-smooch): “Have you got that in Ohio, too?”
  • “The men who put that snake in there are still alive, and you won’t shoot them because they’re your customers!”
  • Bolger’s tap routine
  • Sonora’s purple dress, paired with huge red feathers atop her head
  • Sonora instructing everyone on how to waltz
  • Ned and Susan’s goodbye – “No place in this world” – *sniffle, sniffle*
  • Ned trying to stop the arsonists
  • The statues being dressed up in tablecloth dresses when the Alhambra is converted into a temporary Harvey House after the fire
  • Ned staying behind for Susan, and Susan getting on the train for Ned – *sniffle, sniffle*
  • Em helping reunite Susan and Ned, even though she used to consider Susan a rival
(Image via Pretty Clever Films)
(Image via Pretty Clever Films)

3 thoughts on “Favorite things about… The Harvey Girls (1946)

  1. If I ever could ever go back in time, I’d love to ride a steam train somewhere (to a baseball game at an old ballpark perhaps) and stop at a Harvey House for a day or two. I saw this film eons ago, but I remember thinking what a cool place a Harvey House was. Thanks again for a ‘Favorite Things’, Lindsey!

    Like

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