Time: 102 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Won Academy Award for Best Song. Nomination for Best Score.
SYNOPSIS: On a train trip West to become a mail order bride Susan Bradley meets a cheery crew of young women traveling out to open a "Harvey House" restaurant at a remote whistle stop to provide good cooking and wholesome company for railway travellers. When Susan and her bashful suitor find romance daunting, she joins the Harvey Girls instead. The saloon across the street with its alluring worldly-wise women offers them tough competition, fair and foul. Susan catches the eye of Ned Trent, the distant but intense proprietor of the bar and finally discovers what love is all about.
BOTTOM LINE: This is certainly not Judy Garland's most memorable role, but she is definitely the star of this picture and her sparkling presence makes the fairly uninspired plot seem a whole lot more interesting. The driving force behind this film is to showcase Garland's vocal and comedic talent and on that level the picture succeeds. She throws every ounce of energy in her petite frame into her role, making Susan a force to be reckoned with. The problem is her co-star. While John Hodiak is a servicable actor, he's not exactly prime leading man material.
The romance between Susan and Ned is the backbone of this film and unfortunately there's just not enough of a spark between Garland and Hodiak to make their love story truly engaging. Despite the poor casting, MGM was spot on with the other aspects: the costumes are lovely, the songs peppy, the one-liners witty and the sets give a touch of glamour to the Old West while still seeming fairly realistic. The battles between the two groups of gals are also pretty entertaining. Basically, this film is fluff of the first order and a pic Garland fans will most likely enjoy, if not remember.