Monday, August 20, 2012

Babes on Broadway.

I haven't forgotten about posting about the Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland musicals! Here are my thoughts on their third musical, Babes on Broadway.

This film begins a little different from the other two in that Mickey and Judy's characters aren't friends who have known each other for years. Tommy Williams (Rooney) is an aspiring Broadway actor who is barely getting by singing with two buddies in a basement spaghetti restaurant. He meets Penny Morris (Garland) at the local drugstore where all of the Broadway hopefuls hang out. Tired of being turned down by producers, Tommy decides to create his own show. He uses the plight of orphaned children who want to visit the country to bring publicity to his show, but Penny has mixed feelings when she discovers his selfish motives.

I like the supporting cast in Babes on Broadway- it seems like the friends of Mickey and Judy's characters get better in every film. :) There's Virginia Weidler, who plays Barbara Jo, one of the older kids at the orphanage. You might recognize her from The Women or The Philadelphia Story. I also especially like Ray McDonald, a very talented dancer (who was also in one of the Andy Hardy films, Presenting Lily Mars, Till the Clouds Roll By, and Good News). There's also another young couple that I can't remember the names of. :)

The music is pretty good, though there are only two songs that I really like: How About You? (I adore that song) and Anything Can Happen In New York. As for the plot, I like that it's Broadway themed and takes place in New York, but it is reminiscent of certain parts of Strike Up the Band. Example: sad children whose needs force Mickey Rooney's character to choose between selfish career goals or doing the right thing.

Still, there are some great moments in the film that always stand out to me. One of them is the film debut of Margaret O'Brien. It's only a brief moment, but it's hilarious. :) A tiny girl, speaking in her solemn dignified voice, begging to save her brother from the electric chair, or something morbid like that. Also- the little boy who sits down at the piano and plays a beautiful piece with nobody even glancing at him. {Donna Reed and Ava Gardner also have bit parts.}

Mickey Rooney has a few unusual key the Carmen Miranda impersonation (which is equal parts creepy and hilarious) and the banjo solo (he's not actually playing, but it sure looks like he is). Judy is lovely in every scene she's in, as usual. I love her hair in this film, too- it looks very grown up compared to the earlier musicals. Also, keep an eye out for an older man who looks almost exactly like Mickey Rooney does now. :) That was his real-life dad, and the resemblance is obvious.

The "ghost theater" sequence, when the pair reminisce about Broadway greats before them in an abandoned old theater, is interesting but seems to slow down the film a bit. It's an inclusion that feels a little like the Nell of New Rochelle act in the previous movie, but I much prefer the hilarious NoNR number. And the ending number seems a bit lackluster for such a cute film (it's also a blackface minstrel routine that feels very similar to the one in Babes in Arms...I think Mickey and Judy are even wearing those same costumes at one point?).

A bit of trivia: While most musicals seemed to be a happy escape from the war that was going on at the time, Babes on Broadway is one of the few that actually acknowledges World War II. Also, Shirley Temple was originally planned to play the role of Barbara Jo.

Overall, Babes on Broadway is a nice musical, and just as enjoyable as the previous two (you can read my reviews here: Babes in Arms and Strike Up the Band). But the last Mickey/Judy musical, Girl Crazy, is my absolute favorite. :) I hope to post about it soon!

Until next time,

1 comment:

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