Babes in Arms (1939)

Unrated   |    |  Comedy, Musical


Babes in Arms (1939) Poster

A group of vaudevillians struggling to compete with talkies hits the road hoping for a comeback. Frustrated to be left behind, all of their kids put on a show themselves to raise money for the families and to prove they've got talent, too.

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6.5/10
2,072

Photos

  • Mickey Rooney and June Preisser in Babes in Arms (1939)
  • Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in Babes in Arms (1939)
  • Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in Babes in Arms (1939)
  • Judy Garland in Babes in Arms (1939)
  • Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in Babes in Arms (1939)
  • Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, and Betty Jaynes in Babes in Arms (1939)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


5 December 2004 | gmorgan-4
7
| Good, but not Great
This Busby Berkeley musical of the 1930s represents Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland at their best, which in the end really doesn't say "greatness." The film, which involves a recurring reminiscence on the "nostalgia" of the 1910s, is often over-acted, over-sung, and over-choreographed. Judy Garland's portrayal of a girl in love but shunned is reminiscent of almost all of the MGM musical roles in which she partook during her stint that lasted into the late 1940s. The minstrel act is a particularly interesting look at the virulent racism that still plagued American cinema during the Studio Age-Judy Garland in blackface is perhaps one of the most frightening images I have ever encountered.

Though, one cannot approach a film like this with more than a hint of cynicism: Busby Berkeley is arguably the greatest choreographer in the history of film, and though he does not show off the spectacle of his earlier films, like Gold Diggers of 1933 and Gold Diggers of 1935 (which he did not direct), his dance numbers are interesting (for instance, when the town's teenagers partake in a book-burning, throwing into the flames symbols of conformity). The film is sweet, fresh, and bright, and, as the first Arthur Freed musical, serves as one of his better (though certainly not his best).

In all, I give it a 3 out of 4 stars (***).

On a side note, three of the songs that appear in Singing in the Rain appear in this film, predating the Gene Kelly musical by over 15 years: Good Morning, Good Morning, Singing in the Rain (which appears in a montage showing previous MGM musicals), and You Are My Lucky Star.

Critic Reviews


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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although Judy Garland re-created for Decca a contemporary version of the exuberant classic, "I'm Just Wild About Harry" (music and lyrics by Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake), the first U.S. release would not appear until 1984 when MCA produced a Garland LP collection called "From the Decca Vaults." This cut was issued again as part of a Judy CD box set entitled "The Complete Decca Masters (Plus)."


Quotes

Mickey Moran: No, no, no, judge! You don't understand; she don't understand, either. Oh, she don't mean no harm to us, but... we're not her kind of people - or yours, either. We belong in show business. We gotta start young so we can get some steel in our ...


Goofs

When Judy Garland & Betty Jaynes are singing their duet, there is part of one line where Judy's lips aren't moving but you can hear her singing. You can see her singing "We're really..." and then the view changes and there's a close-up of the two girls. As they sing the words "...just like...." Judy's lips aren't moving and she's just staring straight at the camera. Then she continues lip-syncing "...two peas in a pod..."


Alternate Versions

Older TV prints (and early video releases) of "Babes In Arms" run 91 minutes, and exclude the "My Day" segment of the finale, with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland spoofing Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. This segment was deleted for a 1948 reissue. "My Day" was restored in the 1990's by Ted Turner, and is included in current prints.


Soundtracks

I Like Opera/I Like Swing
(1939) (uncredited)
Composer unknown
Performed by
Judy Garland and Betty Jaynes

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Comedy | Musical

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