Babes in Arms. Busby Berkeley. 1939.

Hey! Busby Berkeley.

Hey! It’s Judy! And… er… whatsisface…

Oh yeah. Mickey Rooney. I knew that he’d been a child star — he started in 27, when he was… 7… but looking over his imdb, I may never have seen any of his early movies?

He’s 19 here.

And hamming it up like a trooper.

This movie looks like an excuse to show a bunch of skits and play some songs… not that there’s anything wrong with that. So the storyline is about a bunch of kids that are putting on their own vaudeville show — after the time of vaudeville had passed.

It’s a good, wistful premise. The tunes, so far, have been kinda generic. But the “Good Morning” song was good. Is that original for this movie?

It’s amusing, but… it’s not actually, like, funny? It’s almost there? I’m surprised that Busby Berkeley would get things slightly wrong this way? I mean, he’s got all these great actors, and a classic set-up that allows them to do just about anything silly, and… instead the scenes just kinda sit there?

I mean, it’s fine, but I’m disappointed.


BABES IN ARMS was originally a Rogers and Hart show that proved a smash on the New York stage–a slightly satirical script with one of the most powerful scores of the 1930s. MGM specifically purchased the property for Rooney and Garland and then promptly threw out the script, most of the score, and transformed the thing into the tale of young teenagers who decide to put on a show in a barn.

Yeah, something went wrong somewhere. But it’s still enjoyable to watch.

It’s like winter out there or something.

It’s like the blackface minstrel show to end all blackface minstrel shows.

Is the entire show the kids are putting on like this? It’s very… it’s a concept?

I guess this is a trenchant commentary on this sort of thing is childish?

Yeah! That’s the ticket!

Oh deer.

Oh deer.

That’s Judy in light-skinned blackface. That somehow seems even worse somehow!

The Gods speaketh: By all that is sacred, this show must stop!

And then it ends with the most patriotic number ever… kinda out of the blue? I mean, it’s 1939, to it’s good that they’re preparing people to go to war, but it’s…

This blog post is part of the 1939

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