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Babes on Broadway (1941)

Approved | | Comedy, Musical, Romance | January 1942 (USA)
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2:30 | Trailer

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Tommy Williams desperately wants to get to Broadway, but as he is only singing in a spaghetti house for tips he is a long way off. He meets Penny Morris, herself no mean singer, and through... See full summary »

Director:

Busby Berkeley

Writers:

Fred F. Finklehoffe (original story) (as Fred Finklehoffe), Fred F. Finklehoffe (screen play) (as Fred Finklehoffe) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Mickey Rooney ... Tommy Williams
Judy Garland ... Penny Morris
Fay Bainter ... Miss Jones
Virginia Weidler ... Barbara Jo
Ray McDonald ... Ray Lambert
Richard Quine ... Morton Hammond
Donald Meek ... Mr. Stone
Alexander Woollcott Alexander Woollcott ... Alexander Woollcott
Luis Alberni ... Nick
James Gleason ... Thornton Reed
Emma Dunn ... Mrs. Williams
Frederick Burton ... Mr. Morris
Cliff Clark ... Inspector Moriarity
William Post Jr. ... Announcer
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Carl Stockdale ... Man (scenes deleted)
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Storyline

Tommy Williams desperately wants to get to Broadway, but as he is only singing in a spaghetti house for tips he is a long way off. He meets Penny Morris, herself no mean singer, and through her gets the idea to promote a show to send orphaned children on a country holiday. But he is only using the kids to get on himself, which Penny soon realises. With his romance off, an engagement in Philadelphia he can't get to, and, indeed, war in Europe, life can be difficult. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Youth Has It's Fling ! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

January 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Débuts à Broadway See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$940,068 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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

One of the first Hollywood musicals to acknowledge that World War II was taking place. See more »

Goofs

During the "Hoe Down" number, both Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland's voices are heard singing, but Judy is not singing the words. See more »

Quotes

Maxine, Little Girl at Audition: Please wait don't send my brother to the chair, don't let him burn, please please warden please
See more »

Alternate Versions

Some older television prints of the film delete the minstrel show finale. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Terror Night (1987) See more »

Soundtracks

How About You?
(uncredited)
Music by Burton Lane
Lyrics by Ralph Freed
Played during the opening credits
Reprised by Judy Garland playing piano
Sung and danced to by Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland
Played as background music often and during the end credits
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Product Of Its Time
21 May 2012 | by LechuguillaSee all my reviews

Unfairly maligned by viewers with little or no knowledge of history, "Babes On Broadway" is a reasonably good film that, more than anything else, speaks to us from across the years. It tells us a lot about America in 1941.

Several talented young people, just starting out, try to make it big on Broadway. That's the story premise. The script presents a thin, superficial plot. Dialogue lacks significant subtext. But, of course, the plot's real purpose is to create continuity in a film meant to showcase the musical talents of its two big stars: Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. They, along with a large cast, sing and dance in various musical productions, some good, some not so good.

Which leads to my main criticism of this film: the editing. With a thin plot and a runtime of two hours, large chunks could have been chopped out. I have no idea why they included a Beethoven piano performance by a child prodigy; it has no connection to anything. Similarly, the "Hoe Down" musical segment is arguably weak. And, though I commend the producers for acknowledging Great Britain's War efforts, devoted plot elements are thematically irrelevant and overly long.

On the other hand, the best sequence in the film is its grand musical finale, a tribute to the American South. This segment provides a nice contrast to New York's Broadway allure. Dialogue here refers to an "old-fashioned" minstrel show. Most of the songs are from decades earlier. Musical lyrics include the wording "And boy that Southern cooking is okay". Clearly, the intent is to salute the South. So putting performers in black face is entirely appropriate within the well-defined historical context.

Performances are fine. Judy Garland shines. Fay Bainter, ideally cast as a theatrical agent, also gives a good performance. At various points Ray McDonald excels as a tap dancer; he's almost in the same league as Fred Astaire. And impersonating "Brazil bombshell" Carmen Miranda, Mickey Rooney is funny in drag, wearing platform shoes, tawdry women's jewelry, and a flamboyant hat as he sings Miranda's signature song "Mamae Eu Quero". Throughout the film Rooney exudes confidence, energy, and a highly animated persona.

The film's sets and costumes, dialogue about tough times, as well as the selected music and the big accent on tap dancing, combine to give viewers a pretty good feel for American pop culture in the early 1940s. It's by no means a perfect film. But it's worth watching, mostly for nostalgia, as representative of an era that is gone forever.


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