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In this delightful musical from 1946, Judy Garland plays Susan Bradley, a young woman from Ohio, travelling to a western town to marry a man she has only ever spoken to by post. On the train, she meets a group of young women who are planning to open a Harey House restaurant in the town. When she and her suitor realise that they are actually completely wrong for each other, she joins the Harvey girls…but the staff and customers of the nearby Alhambra saloon resent the presence of the restaurant. And further complications ensue when Susan finds herself drawn to Ned Trent (John Hodiak), the owner of the saloon…

Judy Garland starred in a number of hit movie musicals, probably most notably Meet Me In St Louis and The Wizard of Oz. The Harvey Girls is somehow often overlooked, and that’s a shame because it really is a lovely, funny and sweet film from MGM, the studio that produced all the best musicals of the era. Garland is perfectly cast as Susan Bradley, a young woman with grit and determination, and no shortage of humour! John Hodiak is handsome and charismatic as the man who she falls for despite herself. It’s also worth mentioning that some great supporting roles are played by Angela Lansbury, Cyd Charisse and Virginia O’Brien (although O’Brien seems to disappear halfway through the film; this was due to her real life pregnancy). Some of the songs are terrific, and there is a real sense of joy permeating through the film.  And if you like fabulous dancing, check out Ray Bolger’s incredible dance – the energy and choreography is amazing.

The ending, when it comes, is no great surprise – but how often is anyone surprised by the ending of romantic comedy musical?! And in any event, any other ending would have not felt right.

If you like musicals and haven’t seen this one yet, I’d definitely recommend that you do so. Garland looks stunning, and plays her role with aplomb; the supporting cast are great; the whole thing is colourful and cheerful – it’s well worth a watch!

Year of release: 1946

Director: George Sidney

Writers: Samuel Hopkins Adams (book), Eleanore Griffin, William Rankin, Edmund Beloin, Nathaniel Curtis, Harry Crane, James O’Hanlon, Samson Raphaelson, Kay Van Riper

Main cast: Judy Garland, John Hodiak, Angela Lansbury, Cyd Charisse, Virginia O’Brien

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