What’s this mysterious “gay and lusty” classic musical that has Gay Twitter™ all worked up?

What’s this mysterious “gay and lusty” classic musical that has Gay Twitter™ all worked up?

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Image Credit: ‘The Harvey Girls,’ MGM

It really doesn’t take much to convince some people to check out a movie…

For instance, over the weekend, X user @ptklein posted a screenshot from an unidentified film that had Gay Twitter™ ready to purchase tickets sight unseen:

“It’s MGM’s gay and lusty musical romance!,” the film still exclaimed in a bold, extravagant typeface.

Gay and lusty, you say??? No additional context was given, but frankly we didn’t need it—we were sold, and we were ready to see this mystery movie immediately.

Naturally, the title card became meme fodder for the internet’s bored brightest gay minds:

“MGM? More like M4M,” one user joked. “The opening credits to my day to day life,” cracked another. Meanwhile, some took to riffing on which classic MGM musical this could possibly be referring to: Perhaps “Seven Husbands For Seven Brothers”?

And while we appreciate a good old-fashioned pun as much as the next gay, it was time to cut the funny business: Seriously, what is this “gay and lusty musical romance” exactly, and how soon can we watch it?

Well, we did some digging and we have an answer for you…

But, before we do, just a casual reminder that words like “gay” and “lusty” don’t exactly mean the same things that they used to. So, you know, if you do choose to cue up the below film, don’t come yelling at us if it’s not the all-singing, all-dancing man-on-man erotic fantasia that title card might imply.

In actuality, the screenshot from @ptklein’s tweet is a frame of the trailer for MGM’s 1946 musical Western The Harvey Girls, a George Sidney-directed film that is—at least textually—not queer at all. However, like many features from this golden era of the Hollywood musical, it’s got an undeniable camp factor that’ll surely appeal to the gays.

Oh, and we almost forgot to mention: It happens to star two of our all-time-favorite screen idols, Judy Garland and Angels Lansbury! *gay gasp*

At the heart of picture is a fascinating corner of American history: Back in the late 1800s, as the railroad business became a catalyst for Western expansion, a pioneering entrepreneur by the name of Fred Harvey began building a series of Harvey House restaurant-hotels along the railway to serve traveling clientele. They were, effectively, our first chain eatery.

And, in an effort to bring a sense of comfort and order to his restaurants, Harvey hired young women from back east as his staff—waitresses expected to serve and behave within strict moral guidelines (and wearing uniforms that made them look like nuns). At a time when the Western U.S. was still viewed as the dangerous unknown, these so-called “Harvey Girls” we said to have helped tame the Wild West.

The Harvey Girls finds Garland as hopeful Midwesterner Susan, heading to the town of Sandrock, AZ to marry the man she’s been exchanging love letters with but never met.

When he turns out to be a sham, Susan joins the local Harvey House staff, and soon finds herself leading the Harvey Girls in a fight against the businessmen trying to run them out of town—specifically saloon owner Ned Trent (John Hodiak), who just so happens to be the actual man behind Susan’s love letters.

Throw in the mix, Em (Lansbury), the ringleader of the saloon’s showgirls who also is in love with Trent, and things get complicated fast.

All in all, there’s not a whole lot of plot going on between The Harvey Girls‘ typically showy musical numbers—its story gets wrapped up a little too neatly and easily. And, a true product of its time, the film does ultimately push forth agendas of homogeny and heteronormativity (don’t get us started on the complete lack of acknowledgment of the Native populations this westward expansion would be displacing).

So, if you come to The Harvey Girls for a truly “gay and lusty” experience, you may leave disappointed. But, as far as Judy Garland star vehicles go, there are far worse ways to spend (just under) two hours of your time, especially since it does deliver on the promised Garland vs. Lansbury showdown.

Tuning in for an honest-to-goodness battle of the divas? What could be gayer than that!?

The Harvey Girls is available for digital rental or purchase via Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu, and YouTubeTV.


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