Babes in Arms
MGM, 1939 (BW, 91 minutes, Production No. 1088)
Trying desperately to revive vaudeville after it has succumbed to motion pictures, some two-a-day performers band together and tour with their old-time acts. However, it is their talented children, who, putting together a
fine musical show of their own, catch the eye of the public and some big time producers.
[MGM Press Sheet]
Babes in Arms was the first of four Mickey / Judy "backyard musicals" directed by the legendary Busby Berkeley. June Preisser made her MGM debut in this film as Baby Rosalie - a bit of a spoof of Shirley Temple. She
refers to two of her films, "The Baby General" (Shirley's The Little Colonel) and "The Queen's Little Daughter" (Shirley's The Little Princess). Mickey has dinner with Baby Rosalie to discuss the production with hilarious results - probably
the best scene in the movie. Judy sings "I Cried for You" with a tongue-in-cheek monologue written by Roger Edens. Judy also sings "Figaro" and "Good Morning" (with Mickey Rooney) - a song that would turn up again in the 1952 production, Singin' in the
Rain. The film was on the exhibitor's top ten list for 1939, and Mickey Rooney was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award. The film was based on the Rodgers and Hart stage play of the same name, but bore little resemblance to the play.
Produced by: Arthur Freed
Directed by: Busby Berkeley
Screen Play by: Jack McGowan and Kay Van Riper
Based on the Play by and
Musical Program: "Babes in Arms," "Where or When," (by) and ; "Good Morning" (by) and ; "God's Country" (by) and
Musical Adaptation: Roger Edens
Musical Director: George Stoll
Orchestral Arrangements: Leo Arnaud and George Bassman
Art Director: Cedric Gibbons
Associate: Merrill Pye
Set Decorations: Edwin B. Willis
Wardrobe by: Dolly Tree
Recording Director: Douglas Shearer
Director of Photography: Ray June
Film Editor: Frank Sullivan
Filmed: April 1939 - July 1939 (Judy turned 17 during filming)
Released: September 1939
... Mickey Moran
... Patsy Barton
... Joe Moran
... Judge Black
... Rosalie Essex (Baby Rosalie)
... Florrie Moran
... Molly Moran
... Don Brice
... Jeff Steele
... Dody Martini
... Mr. Maddox
... Mrs. Barton
... Martha Steele
... Mr. Essex
... Mrs. Brice
[0:00] Overture (played by Orchestra behind titles)
[0:01] (performed by Charles Winninger)
[0:07] (sung by Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney)
[0:15] , Part 1 (sung by Judy Garland and Betty Jaynes)
[0:17] Opera vs. Jazz, Part 2: (sung by Betty Jaynes)
[0:18] Opera vs. Jazz, Part 3: (sung by Judy Garland)
[0:20] Opera vs. Jazz, Part 4: (sung by Judy Garland and Betty Jaynes)
[0:23] (sung and marched by Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Doug McPhail, Betty Jaynes and the MGM Studio Chorus)
[0:37] (sung by Doug McPhail, Betty Jaynes, Judy Garland)
[1:00] (sung by Judy Garland with spoken interlude)
[1:10] (sung by Judy Garland and the Crinoline Choir)
[1:11] / / (sung by Judy
Garland, Mickey Rooney and the Crinoline Choir)
[1:13] (sung by Doug McPhail, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland)
[1:15] Minstrel Routine, Part 3 (performed by Doug McPhail and the Crinoline Choir)
[1:15] / (performed by
Mickey Rooney and the Crinoline Choir)
[1:16] (sung by Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, the Crinoline Choir and the MGM Studio Chorus)
[1:28] Finale, Part 1 / (performed by Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Doug McPhail, Betty Jaynes and the MGM Studio Chorus)
Finale, Part 2 / (performed by Doug McPhail, Betty Jaynes, Mickey Rooney [as Franklin D. Roosevelt], Judy Garland [as Eleanor Roosevelt] and the MGM Studio Chorus)
Finale, Part 3 (performed by Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Sally Mueller, Helen Pacino, Betty Rome, Irene Crane, Albert Mahler, Bob Priester, Ralph Leon, N. Nielson, John Moss, Charles Schrouder, Allan Watson, J.D. Jewkes)
Finale, Part 4 / (played by the MGM Studio Orchestra)
Finale, Part 5 / (performed by Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Doug McPhail, Betty Jaynes and the MGM Studio Chorus)
Judy turned 17 during filming of this picture. She began work on Babes in Arms in April 1939, while still doing a few retakes for .
Mickey received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his outstanding performance in Babes in Arms.
MGM sent Judy and Mickey to New York to appear between showings of the film at the Capitol Theater. Heralded as "the Garbo and Gable of Hollywood High," they opened on August 17 to record-breaking crowds. They did five
30-minute shows a day, interspersed with promotional appearances all over the city. After two weeks, Mickey returned to Hollywood, but Judy stayed on at the Capitol for a third week with Bert Lahr and Ray Bolger to promote The Wizard of Oz.
This was the first of the four Mickey/Judy "backyard musicals" directed by Busby Berkeley. Still to come were (1940), (1941), and (1943).
The Hollywood premiere of Babes in Arms was held at Grauman's Chinese Theater on October 10, 1939, and Judy was honored that evening by placing her hand and footprints in the famous forecourt. Those prints are still
there today. The Chinese Theater is one of the most-visited sites in the world.
In 1939, Judy first made the exhibitor's list of top ten stars. She and Bette Davis were the only two actresses to be so honored that year. Both Babes in Arms and were on the top ten list as well.
In 1939, Judy's fan mail topped that of any other star at MGM.
Soundtrack released by Rhino Records as part of the 4-CD set, "Mickey and Judy," (1995).
See for information about the latest releases of home video and sountrack.
See for more information on this and other classic films.
Babes in Arms received Academy Award nominations for Best Actor (Mickey Rooney) and Best Score (Roger Edens). The year 1939 was one of the best ever for American film! Mickey lost to Rober Donat (Goodbye, Mr.
Chips) and Roger Edens lost to Herbert Stothart for The Wizard of Oz.
"A brightly entertaining screen version of the Rodgers and Hart legit musical. Perked up by ... Mickey's mugging and undeniable song and dance talents, and by Judy's simply swell sense of swing ... Babes in Arms is
quite a show. It moves fast with guaranteed laughs and lots of sure-fire tunes."
- Irene Thirer, The New York Post
"Despite the Rooney dominance throughout, there are several sterling performances by the younger talent. Judy Garland most effectively carries the adolescent romantic interest opposite him."
- Variety, September 20, 1939
"The irresistible team of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland are currently displaying their varied talents from the Capitol screen in Babes in Arms. As an entertainment it has lost some of its original sophistication and
the elastic snap with which it went over on the stage. But it has gained in comic interludes and serves to introduce several new screen personalities. Mickey performs with all the youthful vigor he is capable of throwing into a screen role.
- The New York Daily News
Patsy: (to Mickey, stomping her foot for emphasis) "Did you have to kiss Baby Rosalie today?"
Patsy: (throwing Mickey's music class pin on the ground) "I suppose you want this back, too. Indian giver!"
Patsy: "But in the future if we should meet again at the opera or at a ball, and I'm dazzling in my diamonds and pearls and ermine wraps and surrounded by lords and dukes and princes, you'll probably be sorry!"
Don: (to Mickey, after his impression of Clark Gable playing Antony) "Come on, Clark Antony, finish the scene."
Mickey: "Please folks, don't go! It's just a little shower!"
Mickey: "Oh, Pat, I do!"
Patsy: "You do what?"
Mickey: "I do, what you want me to say and I won't, very much!"
Music publisher: "It's a good thing I didn't give him the thousand, or he'd have dropped over dead!"