‘Babes in Arms’ (Film)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

The Big Musical Fun Show

Youth, music and nostalgia are all in these black-and-white films with Mickey and Judy!

The ‘Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland Collection’ contains four movie musicals starring the two young stars from the heyday of American movie mania! The four movies are all contained in a lavish DVD box set with a bonus DVD; a portfolio of photos and a guide to the movies and the DVD extras.

My Dad purchased the DVD box set of the ‘Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland Collection’ via Amazon.com from the USA. I enjoyed seeing Judy Garland in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and saw Mickey Rooney in the 1977 Disney film of ‘Pete’s Dragon’. So it was nice to see these four films with the two.

Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland did many movie musicals together as well as starring in the ‘Andy Hardy’ films. The four films featured in this DVD box set of theirs are some of their Hollywood highlights. The films are ‘Babes in Arms’, ‘Strike Up the Band’, ‘Babes on Broadway’ and ‘Girl Crazy’.

Just to say, the four films are mostly directed by Busby Berkeley who directed some of the ‘Gold Digger’ movies from the 1930s. He’s renowned for his musical choreography and presenting fantasy sequences in kaleidoscopic forms. All four movies are also introduced by Mickey Rooney on the four DVDs.

‘Babes in Arms’ was made in 1939. It tells the story of Mickey and Judy’s characters as two teens born in families of vaudevillians (an old-fashioned term of theatrical types of variety entertainment).

When the vaudevillian family decides to tour a show without their children joining them, Mickey and Judy’s characters get their group of youngster friends to put on a show and to make it to Broadway.

Mickey Rooney stars as…err, Mickey in this movie. Actually the character’s name is Mickey Moran. In the movie, he’s the son of vaudeville performer Joe Moran and he directs a musical show with kids.

Mickey tends to be pretty excitable and ambitious when he wants to put on a show of youngsters to prove his parents wrong. I liked the balance of comedy and drama in Mickey Rooney’s performance.

Judy Garland stars as Mickey’s girlfriend, Patsy Barton. Patsy is a great supporter of Mickey’s ambitions to get to Broadway and run a musical show. Mickey also wrote songs for her in the show.

There’s a moment when Mickey and Judy’s characters actually kiss in the movie. This is a rare thing for me as most of their movies don’t have them kissing each other, despite working so well together.

The movie features two songs that I recognised and would later feature in ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ from 1952. The two songs are ‘Good Morning’ sung by Mickey and Judy and also ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ itself.

The film also stars Charles Winniger as Joe Moran, Mickey’s father. I recognised Charles Winniger from seeing him in ‘State Fair’ in 1945 and he starred with Judy Garland in ‘Little Nellie Kelly’ in 1940.

There’s also Guy Kibbee as Judge John Black. I recognised Guy Kibbee from seeing him in ‘Gold Diggers of 1933’ and in ‘Dames’. He was also in ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ with James Stewart.

There’s also June Preisser as “Baby” Essex. June would later star in ‘Strike Up The Band’ with Mickey Rooney. In this, Baby is a movie star who stars in Mickey’s show and she’s very much a glamour girl.

There’s also Grace Hayes as Florrie Moran, Mickey’s mother; Betty Jaynes as Molly Moran, Mickey’s sister and Douglas McPhail as Don Brice. Both Don and Molly sing rather operatically during the film.

The movie also features Ann Shoemaker as Patsy’s mother. Ann Shoemaker would later star in ‘Strike Up The Band’. I liked that scene where Patsy’s mother tells her daughter not to quit the show.

Just as a side note, the song ‘Babes in Arms’ is performed when Mickey, Patsy and the youngsters decide to put on a show. Don takes the lead with his singing voice as they march off down the road.

There’s Rand Brooks as Jeff Steele, who Mickey’s character has a fight with. There’s also Margaret Hamilton (who was the Wicked Witch of the West in ‘The Wizard of Oz’) as Martha Stelle, Jeff’s mom.

Martha and Jeff Steele intend to see the Vaudeville kids sent off to schools and away from their homes. This is something Mickey, Patsy and the others aren’t happy with when putting on the show.

The movie also features a blackface minstrel performance during the youngster’s show. This was something of the time during the American movies of the 30s and it wouldn’t get performed today.

‘Babes in Arms’ is an enjoyable movie with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in it together. It’s a film that sees youngsters being enthusiastic about their love of music and performing on theatre stages.

The DVD special features are as follows. As well as an all-new introduction by Mickey Rooney, there’s also a commentary by historian John Fricke. There’s also a Vintage ‘Our Gang’ short called ‘Duel Personalities’; a classic cartoon called ‘The Mad Maestro’; a 1939 newsreel and a theatrical trailer of ‘Babes in Arms’. There are also audio bonuses including the ‘Leo Is on the Air’ radio promo and three radio shows with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.

‘Babes in Arms’ rating – 7/10

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