The Harvey Girls (1946) - Movie Review

The Harvey Girls, starring Judy Garland, John Hodiak, and a plethora of Hollywood names, is a bright, show-stopping musical with the usual glamour only MGM could muster. Based on the true story of Fred Harvey's restaurants and the waitresses he employed, this story takes place in small, uncivilized town in New Mexico.

Brief Synopsis:

Tired of her own home town in Ohio, Susan Bradley responds a matrimonial ad in the newspaper and agrees to marry a man she has never seen. She leaves for the remote town of Sand Rock with her hopes high. On the trains she befriends some girls who are going to Sand Rock as well to become waitresses at the new Harvey House. When she arrives, Susan is immediately surprised to find that the man who wrote all those beautiful letters is a rough cattle hand and not the learned gentleman she thought. She soon finds out that the whole trip was a joke played by the local saloon owner, Ned Trent. Infuriated, Susan tells Trent just what she thinks of men like him, and joins the Harvey girls in their fight for civilization. They endure trials and grave danger but in the end, the Harvey girls prevail. And Susan finds the writer of her letters to be the man of her dreams.

Judy Garland performs beautifully, singing as well as acting. She is accompanied by rising stars such as Cyd Charisse, and well-known actors such as Virginia O'Brien and Ray Bolger. Also in the film are the lovable raspy-voiced Marjorie Main, a hard-as-nails Angela Lansbury, and a tough and dangerous Preston Foster. John Hodiak, a rare man to find in musicals, pulls the character of saloon owner off well. Unfortunately for him, his only singing part was cut from the finished film.

Full Synopsis:

As the Santa Fe rail line moves westward, civilization follows close behind. Credit for this advancement is due in part to Fred Harvey's chain of restaurants and his straight-laced, white collar waitresses dubbed the Harvey Girls.

Susan Bradley, a lonely girl from Ohio, is heading west with dreams of her beloved leading her on. Having responded to a matrimonial ad in the newspaper and started a relationship with its writer, she agreed to marry him and left her boring home for a new one.

Also on the train heading west are a group of young women just employed as Harvey Girls. A few of them take pity on Susan's lack of food and offer her some of theirs which sparks a valuable friendship. None of them know just what they are getting into but they are soon to find out.

In Sand Rock, Judge Purvis, a man with the power of the town behind him, is none too happy to see a Harvey House opening up next to the Alhambra, a saloon owned by his friend Ned Trent. He advises Ned to be careful, having heard the effect Harvey Houses have had on the towns they've occupied. Not sharing his friends suspicious nature, Ned waves him off.

The train arrives with a grand entrance as nearly the whole town comes out to meet them. As the crowd dies away the Harvey girls gather up their belongings and move into the new building already set up for them.

Susan, on the other hand, is looking anxiously for her husband-to-be, H. H. Hartsey, Esq.. When she spots him though she is taken aback. The man who calls himself Hartsey appears to be a rough cowhand no more able to write a letter than fly to the moon. Obviously expecting someone different as well, the two eventually agree that the marriage wouldn't be right for both of them.

Thinking out loud, Hartsey mentions the fact that the letters were written by a "friend" who must have thought it would be a good joke. Infuriated, Susan finds out he's none other than the owner of the Alhambra, Ned Trent, and marches straight through the doors of the saloon. She tells him what she thinks of men who take liberties with innocent people and gives him more than a piece of her mind. As a last jab, she promises the Harvey girls will shove people like him and his dance hall girls out of the town for good, and immediately marches off to join them. Little does she know her spunk, despite the anger behind it, has sparked Ned's interest in her.

In no time the Harvey House is open and ready for the next train. Eager to size up his new competition, Ned visits the Harvey House and orders a famous Harvey House steak.

Sonora, the cook, informs them all that the meat is gone, vanished. Rolling up her sleeves, Susan heads back over to the Alhambra. She grabs a pair of six-shooters and threatens to shoot if they don't return the meat she knows they have taken. Hardly a menacing figure, the men go along with her anyhow, too surprised and delighted by her tenacity. Moments later, she returns to Mr. Trent's table with one steak, very rare.

That night, Judge Purvis hires a man to shoot out the girls light, succeeding in scaring some of the girls away. But the next day, when Ned tells him to cut the rough stuff, he tells Susan and Deborah that Ned is the one trying to drive them away while he is perfectly happy to have them there.

Once again taking matters into her own hands, Susan bursts through the saloon doors for the third time. Expecting to find Ned, she instead finds Em, the saloon's star dancer. Em tells Susan that she's glamorizing Ned and inadvertantly clarifies him as the kind one, not Purvis. Though her words are biting, Susan quickly realizes that Em loves Ned. Em doesn't deny it but bitterly adds that he doesn't know she exists.

Em mentioned something about a valley and suddenly Susan recalls Ned having written to her about a valley he loved to go and visit. Now ready to thank him instead of fight, she finds him just where she thought, in his valley. Though at first cold, Ned falls prey to Susan's good-girl charm, and Susan soon has to admit his feelings are mutual.

They return to town together, and closer than they were before, but in less than a minute, trouble pops its ugly head up. Hearing a scream from the Harvey House, Susan and Ned run up to to find a rattlesnake threatening Deborah in a closet. Ned heroically kills the snake but Susan realizes that as long as he runs the Alhambra and endorses men like Judge Purvis he is doing the same as helping them in running the girls out of Sand Rock.

Deborah, a dancer, hears the lovely music coming from the Alhambra and can't resist the temptation to get a closer look at its creator. The young man, Terry O'Halloran, is enchanted with Deborah and sings the song for her. But when Susan arrives to bring Deborah back the jealous saloon girls move in on them. In no time Susan is joined by the rest of the Harvey girls and the battle rages with fists and screams.

The girls throw a ball for the men of the town and entertain them with dancing and singing. The air is festive and everyone is having a wonderful time, despite the appearance of Ned and Purvis. But when the dance hall girls arrive in their bold colors and feathers, the mood becomes tense. Ned stands up for his girls and they go their way.

After the ball, Susan rushes out to the valley. Not long after, Ned arrives. They love each other, they both know it, but they can't come to terms with the differences in their beliefs. Ned informs her that he plans to move the saloon to Flagstaff and leaves. The moment is bittersweet for Susan, knowing that he loves her and yet they can't be together.

When Ned returns to town alone, he catches Purvis and his henchman setting fire to the Harvey House. He takes them on singehanded but fails to save the building. Daylight reveals a burned down building where the restaurant used to stand. Ned offers to let them have the Alhambra until the Harvey House is repaired and prepares to leave for Flagstaff.

Only when the train is ready to leave, he admits to Em that he isn't going with them. Em realizes she has lost.

As the train moves out, Em spots Susan in one of the cars. When Susan tells her that she would do anything for Ned, Em does the right thing and stops the train. Already riding to catch up, Ned finds Susan and the two get married right in his valley, all their problems resolved.

Behind The Scenes

The song that hit the charts higher than any other on the film was On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe, sung by artists such as Bing Crosby, Johnny Mercer, and even Judy Garland, but Mercer's version was the most popular.

Since Virginia O'Brien was pregnant at the time of shooting she lost parts in the second half of the film do to Judy's delaying the film because her condition became more and more noticeable.

Not surprising, Angela Lansbury's singing voice was dubbed as well as rising star Cyd Charisse.

My Opinion

I've watched this movie for as long as I can remember, and though I wouldn't recommend it for a historical piece, I love the music and simple plot. John Hodiak does an excellent job in the role of the saloon owner while Judy pulls off the necessary spunk for her character.

Other than the obvious inaccuracies, the only thing I really don't like in the movie is the implications that compromising your morals for the man or woman you love is alright. The fact that Susan believes they'll both have to compromise their standards to make a relationship work is wrong. Moral standards should never be compromised. Ned was the one who needed to change. Susan's speech at the end about the only difference between her and Em was the clothing style they chose to wear was completely illogical. Hollywood once again gets the award for glamorizing real life. Em and her fellow saloon girls were prostitutes, or at least saloon girls in that day and time were.

Other than those apparent inaccuracies, I would definitely recommend this movie for anyone who wishes to see a quaint, enjoyable musical!

Time? Is that you?

After agreeing to make store patterns for Crochet Spot, I ran into trouble at the first. You see, this was my first idea.

Only after designing everything and sending it off did I get the memo that it is trademarked. Nice. What to do, what to do. I tried a few other ideas but had some problems with them as well. I finally managed to come out with this:

I definitely couldn't have done it without my mother and siblings help. They gave me ideas and desperately needed opinions. Unfortunately for the first pillow, I know hate it. Not really, but I am not looking at it for a couple of weeks. Maybe when I look at it again I'll have forgotten the trouble it caused me. My older brother told me I should see if I could sell the pattern to the company that has it trademarked. Hmm...

Because of that I didn't get around to last weeks movie review. Now on to this week.

A simple photo tutorial of these Beaded Bangles took longer than I thought. I was prepared and took the photos at the beginning of the week but then I spent one day with a headache and another shopping. Yesterday I was pulling my hair out trying to get it all done. And it might have been enough time if I hadn't been trying to celebrate Mum's birthday. I felt so guilty for spending so much time working on my tutorial when I hadn't even put up her decorations. And the thing was, I had already told myself that I was going to put her birthday first, and I didn't feel like I was.

Just as a note, she completely understood my need to finish the tutorial and didn't expect me to stop it to put up decorations. But I wanted to. Birthdays are so important. It's one day out of 365 that is all your own and should be made as special as possible. I happen to love my birthday. And if you asked my younger sister (not my youngest), she would completely agree. By the way, both our birthday's are around Valentines which makes that holiday extra special.

So that is the frustrations of the week, or shall I say past two weeks. Learning new things takes time, unfortunately. But I am grateful for the opportunity. I just have to plan ahead and start earlier with my projects so that I am not running out of time. (I hate running out of time, I get frantic!)

Those of you waiting for the next movie review, hold on. I'm working on it. I hope to have it posted in the next few days.

By the way, while I am on the topic of movie reviews, October is going to be a special month. The movie topic will be Film Noir! and I can't wait to get started. I hope to see you there!

Changing My Mind - Again!

I know a few months ago I spoke of starting an Etsy shop and for the longest I wanted to but couldn't. Now I can, or just about, but I'm not sure I still want to. The thing is, at first it was the only idea I had for making a little extra money and it just followed that if I make things I should sell them. And so I was all gung-ho until God began providing other things.

For instance, He provided my job with Crochet Spot in March. Like I've said before, it was a big step for me, even if it wasn't such a big step in comparison to other things. I wasn't sure I had what it takes to create a crochet pattern once a week. Well, so far I have created 26 and have learned a lot in that time.

Summer Lace Fingerless Gloves - Crochet Spot Pattern 
Now Rachel, the founder and owner of Crochet Spot, is giving me the chance to take a step further and make store patterns. This will mean bigger (more involved) projects. I'm really excited about this step because I have a tendency to create bigger projects as it is. But at the same time I am a bit nervous. Every other week I will have to have such a pattern ready. I thank God for this chance and pray that He will give me ideas and patience to do my best.

Besides crocheting, I have an incredible passion for writing. I know I've said this before, but I just wanted to reiterate for the sake of the conversation. My dream is to become a published author writing fiction as well as non-fiction. I've considered freelance writing, and took a step toward it, but I have stepped back because I am still not sure I want to put my full effort into pursuing that direction. Of course, if anyone desires to offer me a writing job anyway, I would be thrilled.

In the meantime, I am blogging on things of interest, such as marine biology and technology, for the sake of fun and in the hopes of building my writing platform. Since being introduced to the field of ocean exploration more intensely, thanks to the availability of NOAA's last expedition on the Okeanos Explorer, I have began to wonder if that is an area I could move toward in my writing. Maybe, if I show that I am good enough, I will be noticed by topic-related magazines or sites. But which should I pursue? Without feeling absolutely positive I hesitate to take action. What if I run full force into writing a certain topic and find that I jumped the gun and I've lost interest? In other words, what if I jump ahead of God and find that He had something better in mind for me than what I chose?

Whale Shark sighted during Okeanos 2013 Northeast Canyons Expedition - Courtesy of Ocean Explorer website.

I am ambitious and I will not sit around waiting for God to just drop things in my lap. God gives us talents and skills to use and a responsibility to work hard. But deciding your future is not to be taken lightly. I want God's best for me. He provided the Crochet Spot job without my seeking it out. I simply prayed for God to provide and He did. So I am asking Him to provide a writing avenue for me in the direction He knows will be best for me. He knows me better than I do.

So, in conclusion, since my main passion is for writing, I feel that starting an Etsy shop would only take time away from it and wear me out. My first inclination would be to take it on anyway and make myself do it because it would be a good experience. But I have learned that I can do too much. Until God shows me otherwise, this is the direction I will pursue. And I know God will provide when He feels I am ready. Why else would He have given me the love of writing if not to use it?

Echinoderms in the North Atlantic

As part of the series of blogs I have been doing on the recent NOAA expedition, the Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition 2013, today I want to turn your attention to Echinoderms. To be honest, I hardly expected to see any when I first started watching the live feed from the Okeanos Explorer in early July. But to my surprise, we have seen a handful of different sea stars, sea pens, sea lilies, and sea urchins.

Sea urchins were found on the flat ocean bottom, along with sea pens, while a few sea lilies were solidly grounded along the sides of rocky substrate. As for sea stars, well, that's a whole subject for me.

When I think sea stars I imagine shallow tidal pools or sandy beaches. I hardly expected to find them in the abyssal plains, but I suppose you learn something new everyday, right?

There are so many species of sea star, it's almost hard to believe. The Common sea star has five legs and is... well, common in appearance. But would you believe there are some sea stars that look so plump they appear to have no arms at all? A prime example of this is the Cushion sea star. Here is a frilly specimen with a similar body structure:

Picture courtesy of NOAA Ocean Explorer

Pink and adorable! A couple of other species we saw were plump in a smaller way. A guess at their diameter would probably be around 20 or more centimeters, give or take a little, whereas one sea star spotted couldn't have been more than a few centimeters.

Picture courtesy of NOAA Ocean Explorer

And yet, would you believe there is a species even smaller, though not observed on this expedition. Patiriella parvivipara is the smallest sea star on record, measuring up to one centimeter in diameter. A creature like this is easily missed.

Picture courtesy of NOAA Ocean Explorer

Though commonly known for having only five arms, some species of sea star have been known to have up to 45 arms. We had the enormous privilege of seeing one, just one, with eight arms.

Picture courtesy of NOAA Ocean Explorer

But not every sea star keeps its appendages attached to the substrate. Brisingid sea stars are curious creatures. They hold onto the rock, sometimes upside down, and let their arms curl out in front of them. There is a very good reason for this. They are suspension feeders, which means they sit and glean their prey from the water current.

Many times the canyon walls or deep crevices in the walls were covered in brisingid sea stars, never moving, simply sitting and waiting.


Picture courtesy of NOAA Ocean Explorer

I couldn't write a post on sea stars without mentioning one of their most fascinating aspects!

Everyone has heard about the sea stars ability to regenerate an arm after its having been broken off. And it's not everyday something like this is seen. But we had the chance to see one. It's definitely a peculiar sight to see, and sometimes reminiscent of a horror film. But it is an incredible characteristic. Because of the loss of two arms, this sea star most likely created another. Some people say this is only possible if the broken appendage still had a bit of the central disc. Either way, it gives a whole new meaning to the the idea of cloning.

Every glance we are able to get of the little known world below gives us more and more to consider. And there is still more to discover out there! Be sure to join me next week as I continue this series of posts examining the remarkable life in the deep!