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

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

5 December 2004 | gmorgan-4
| 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?


This film's television premiere took place in Minneapolis Friday 8 February 1957 on KMGM (Channel 9); it first aired in Norfolk VA 26 April 1957 on WTAR (Channel 3), in Chicago 7 May 1957 on WBBM (Channel 2), in Portland OR 11 June 1957 on KGW (Channel 8), in Philadelphia 14 June 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6), in Phoenix 15 June 1957 on KPHO (Channel 5), in New Haven CT 21 June 1957 on WNHC (Channel 8), in Altoona PA 28 June 1957 on WFBG (Channel 10), in Honolulu 2 July 1957 on KHVH (Channel 13), in Los Angeles 12 July 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11), in Tampa 27 August 1957 on WFLA (Channel 8), in Baltimore 20 September 1957 on WJZ (Channel 13), in Hartford CT 14 October 1957 on WHCT (Channel 18), in Indianapolis 3 November 1957 on WLW-I (Channel 13), in Cincinnati 22 December 1957 on WLW-T (Channel 5), and in both Peoria and Cleveland 25 December 1957 on WTVH (Channel 19) and on KYW (Channel 3) ; it was finally shown in New York City 10 August 1959 on WCBS (Channel 2) and in San Francisco 29 August 1959 on KGO (Channel 7).


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 ...


In the "(We Are) Babes In Arms" number, Molly Moran misses her step, and excuses herself from the marching line, but is back in the line, not missing a beat, in the next shot.

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer-colorized version.


Mr. Bones and Mr. Tambo
(1939) (uncredited)
Words and Music by
Roger Edens
Performed by Douglas McPhail, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland and chorus


Plot Summary


Comedy | Musical

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