ABOUT THE FILM:
The Harvey Girls was Judy's big budget Technicolor musical follow-up to Meet Me In St. Louis (in between the two she filmed her first dramatic role in The Clock as well as her one-scene guest appearance in Ziegfeld Follies). It was based on the 1942 Samuel Hopkins Adams novel of the same name, which was based on the real-life "Harvey Girls": The waitresses who were employed by the Harvey chain of restaurants (still in existence today) placed along the route of the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe.
Judy originally wanted the Lucille Bremer role in Yolanda And The Thief (1946) which was filming at the same time and was being directed by her current love and future husband Vincente Minnelli. Producer (of both) Arthur Freed convinced Judy that the role of Susan Bradley in The Harvey Girls was the better of the two. They were right, as The Harvey Girls became one of Judy's (and MGM's) biggest musical hits of the 1940's winning the Oscar for Best Song ("On The Atchison, Topeka, And The Santa Fe") and earning a spot on Variety's list of "all time box office hits".
The book was originally purchased by MGM in 1942 as a possible dramatic film for Lana Turner.
The Harvey Girls was The Freed Unit's answer to the stage mega-hit "Oklahoma!", which was the catalyst for the creation of a "western" musical that became The Harvey Girls.
Judy began her work on the film on December 29, 1944 when she rehearsed the numbers "It's A Great Big World" and "On The Atchison, Topeka And the Santa Fe". Her final day of work on the film was June 14, 1945 even though principle photography on the film was completed on June 4, 1945. Judy married Vincente Minnelli on June 14, 1945.
Angela Lansbury was only 19 years old and already an Oscar nominee (for Best Supporting Actress for the drama Gaslight in 1944) when she made The Harvey Girls. She later remarked (amusingly) that she actually received hate mail from fans berating her for being "mean to Judy"!!
Although she was dubbed in The Harvey Girls, 20 years later Lansbury would have her own career comeback (singing live) with her Tony winning roles in the musicals "Mame" and "Sweeney Todd" among other accomplishments.
Virginia O'Brien is absent from most of the second half of the film because she became pregnant half-way through filming.
While on location in Chatsworth (San Fernando Valley), California, production was shut down for several days due to the devastating news of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's death.
The Harvey Company was very involved in the production, insisting that only MGM could make a film about their company when MGM originally planned to sell the property to another studio (prior to The Freed Unit's involvement). They even dispatched a representative to MGM to ensure that their company was presented with the proper family values. They also insisted that the company's late founder, Fred Harvey, not be portrayed on film.
The Harvey company did not approve of the book on which the film is based. It was only after producer Arthur Freed sent a detailed letter, and associate producer Roger Edens went to the company's headquarters in Chicago, Illinois and basically acted out the story, that the company gave MGM their approval.
This was the second and last time Ray Bolger and Judy would appear together on film.
Cost for the writers: $132,962 *
Cast payroll: $443,766.67 *
Cost of costumes: $75,942.38 *
Cost of the "Sandrock Street" with exteriors and interiors for both the Alhambra and the Harvey House: $395,969.40 *
Cost of extras for the big Harvey House fire & fight sequence: $7,440 *
First preview of the film: July 12, 1945 in Inglewood, California.
The film was held from release until January 18, 1946 (at the Capitol Theater in New York) due to the number of MGM films already scheduled for release in 1945.
The deleted musical numbers "March Of The Doagies" (and reprise) & "My Intuition" have survived. "Doagies" was first seen in the 1994 theatrical release of That's Entertainment! III and its subsequent home media releases. Both numbers are now available on the DVDs of The Harvey Girls and the That's Entertainment! series. That's Entertainment! III is also available on Blu-ray.
"My Intuition" was put in and taken out so many times during production that the director George Sidney referred to it as "My Indecision."
George Sidney has related many times (and on the commentary track to the laser & DVD release) about Judy's genius. When filming the "Atchison" number on Lot 3 of the MGM Studios, Sidney tells how they rehearsed the number all day with a "dance-in" (dancing stand-in) for Judy. When Judy arrived, as Sidney relates: "That day Judy came in at one o'clock. She went through the whole thing and said, 'I'm ready!' We shot it and she did it like she had been rehearsing it for six months. It was sheer genius!"
Judy's solo in "Atchison" until she sings "All Aboard!" is one long, continuous take. It's a testament to the quality and talent of The Freed Unit, especially in these modern times of constant editing.
The soundtrack CD from Rhino Records includes the only know recording of Judy and Kay Thompson singing together on a rare piano demo recording.
Judy Garland as Susan Bradley
John Hodiak as Ned Trent
Ray Bolger as Chris Maule
Preston Foster as Judge Sam Purvis
Virginia O'Brien as Alma
Angela Lansbury as Em
Marjorie Main as Sonora Cassidy
Chill Wills as H.H. Hartsey
Kenny Baker as Terry O'Halloran
Selena Royle as Miss Bliss
Cyd Charisse as Deborah
Ruth Brady as Ethel
Catherine McLeod as Louise
Jack Lambert as Marty Peters
Edward Earle as Jed Adams
Virginia Hunter as Jane
William "Bill" Phillips, Norman Leavitt as Cowboys
Ray Teal as Conductor
Horace (Stephen) McNally as Golddust McClean
Jack Clifford as Fireman
Vernon Dent as Engineer
Paul "Tiny" Newlan as Station Agent
Jim Toney as Mule Skinner
Morris Ankrum as Reverend Claggett
Lucille Casey, Mary Jo Ellis, Dorothy Gilmore, Gloria Hope, Mary Jean French, Daphne Moore, Joan Thorson, Dorothy Tuttle as Harvey Girls
Hazel Brooks, Kay English, Hane Hall, Vera Lee, Peggy Maley, Erin O'Kelly, Dorothy Van Nuys, Eve Whitney, Dallas Worth as Dance Hall Girls
Ben Carter as John Henry
Byron Harvey Jr, Beverly Tyler in bit parts
In The Valley Where The Evening Sun Goes Down
Wait And See
On The Atchison, Topeka And The Santa Fe
Oh, You Kid
Wait And See (reprise #1)
It's A Great Big World
The Wild, Wild West
Wait And See (reprise #2)
Swing Your Partner Round And Round
In The Valley Where The Evening Sun Goes Down (deleted reprise)
Coda/New End Title
March Of The Doagies (deleted)
March Of The Doagies (deleted reprise)
My Intuition (deleted)
Produced by: Arthur Freed
Associate Producer: Roger Edens
Directed by: George Sidney
Screen Play by: Edmund Beloin, Nathaniel Curtis, Harry Crane, James O'Hanlon and Samson Raphaelson
Additional Dialogue by: Kay Van Riper
Based on the Book by Samuel Hopkins Adams and the Original Story by Eleanore Griffin and William Rankin
Words and Music by: Johnny Mercer and Harry Warren
Musical Direction: Lennie Hayton
Orchestration: Conrad Salinger
Vocal Arrangements: Kay Thompson
Musical Numbers Staged by: Robert Alton
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons & William Ferrari
Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis
Associate: Mildred Griffiths
Production Manager: Dave Friedman
Assistant Director: George Rhein
Camera: Cliff Shirpser
Costume Supervision: Irene
Costumes Designed by: Helen Rose
Men's Costumes: (Arlington) Valles
Make-Up: Jack Dawn & Dorothy Ponedel
Recording Director: Douglas Shearer
Director of Photography: George Folsey
Special Effects: Warren Newcombe
Photographed in Technicolor
Technicolor Color Director: Natalie Kalmus
Associate: Henri Jaffa
Film Editor: Albert Akst
Singing voice for Cyd Charisse: Marion Doenges
Singing voice for Angela Lansbury: Virginia Reece