Instead of Meet Me in St. Louis’s 1903 Midwest, The Harvey Girls occupies a late nineteenth-century Southwest. This is a western musical, based on the real-life Fred Harvey restaurants that helped tame the territory, and the impact of the recent Broadway sensation Oklahoma! (1943) is evident. You can’t quite describe The Harvey Girls as a full-fledged, Oklahoma!-style integrated musical—one in which the songs advance the plot—yet it still makes some small strides in the genre’s progress, notably in its memorable “On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe” production number.
excerpted from John DiLeo’s
Screen Savers: 40 Remarkable Movies Awaiting Rediscovery
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