6.5/10
2,025
37 user 13 critic

Babes in Arms (1939)

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.

Director:

Busby Berkeley

Writers:

Jack McGowan (screen play), Kay Van Riper (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mickey Rooney ... Mickey Moran
Judy Garland ... Patsy Barton
Charles Winninger ... Joe Moran
Guy Kibbee ... Judge Black
June Preisser ... Rosalie Essex
Grace Hayes ... Florrie Moran
Betty Jaynes ... Molly Moran
Douglas McPhail Douglas McPhail ... Don Brice
Rand Brooks ... Jeff Steele
Leni Lynn ... Dody Martini
Johnny Sheffield ... Bobs (as John Sheffield)
Henry Hull ... Madox
Barnett Parker ... William
Ann Shoemaker ... Mrs. Barton
Margaret Hamilton ... Martha Steele
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Storyline

Mickey Moran, a talented singer and musician, is son of a veteran from show business. Mickey has a partner, Patsy Barton, a pretty girl and also a very talented singer. One day, a big opportunity arrives for Mickey, a big contract to set up his own show. However, things don't go well, and in order to avoid being sent to a work farm, he'll improvise a show in the country, despite the awful weather conditions. Patsy's in love with Mickey, he loves her, too, but for him the show must go on, and his big dream maybe will come true: to formally stage his play in a big scenario, with a huge production. Written by Alejandro Frias

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The big musical fun show!

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 October 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Los hijos de la farándula See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$748,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Mickey Rooney's Oscar nomination for Best Actor for this film was only one of the ten nominees in the lead acting categories to not be in a Best Picture nominee. See more »

Goofs

Camera shadow on front row of violin players just before Mickey covers his ears. See more »

Quotes

Don Brice: [singing] Play day is done, we've a place in the sun we must fight for / So, babes in arms, to arms!
Kids: [singing] To arms, to arms, babes in arms!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer-colorized version. See more »

Connections

Featured in Wonder Boys (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

You Are My Lucky Star
(1935) (uncredited)
Music by Nacio Herb Brown
Lyrics by Arthur Freed
Sung by Betty Jaynes
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Good, but not Great
5 December 2004 | by gmorgan-4See all my reviews

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.


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