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Babes in Arms

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Babes in Arms (1939) starring Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, directed by Busby Berkeley
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Babes in Arms (1939) starring Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, directed by Busby Berkeley

In Babes in Arms, Mickey Moran, son of an old vaudeville-team puts on his own show to avoid being sent with other vaudevillians’ children to a work farm, but that isn’t that easy.

Editorial review of Babes in Arms courtesy of

Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland singing in Babes in Arms
Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney singing in Babes in Arms

Buy from Amazon Mickey Moran was born in 1921 to Joe and Florrie Moran, popular and well known vaudevillians. Mickey, now in his late teens, is living in an era when vaudeville is dead as an entertainment genre. Joe and Florrie and their former vaudeville colleagues hope that their children will take up a more practical career. With vaudeville blood in their veins, Mickey and his singer girlfriend Patsy Barton – also an offspring of a vaudevillian, Lillian Barton – still dream of a career in show business. When Joe and Florrie and their former vaudeville colleagues decide to resurrect their careers by financing a traveling vaudeville show of their own, their children want in. But the parents feel that the kids’ style of entertainment doesn’t fit in with the old vaudeville acts.

Lets put on a show …

So Mickey decides to write and produce his own show featuring Patsy, himself and their friends. Standing in his way is local busybody Martha Steele, who wants the kids to return to school rather than waste their life on an unpractical career like show business. And Mickey and Patsy’s collective dream may not come to pass because of Rosalie Essex, a former child movie star known as Baby Rosalie who is trying to mount a comeback of her own. She is willing to finance Mickey’s project for the lead role – Patsy’s role. Patsy feels that Rosalie is not only moving in on her professional big break, but also her role as Mickey’s girlfriend. SCREENED/AWARDED AT: Oscar Academy Awards, …Babes in Arms

Cast of characters

  • Mickey Rooney (Requiem for a Heavyweight) as Mickey Moran. The son of famous vaudeville performers, who wants to follow in their footsteps. After the death of vaudeville, however, they discourage him. He’s the leader in “let’s put on a show” and show the world what he can do. He’s in love with Patsy.
  • Judy Garland (In the Good Old Summertime) as Patsy Barton. Peggy’s also the child of vaudeville performers. She’s in love with Mickey, and supports him & the show. But jealousy rears its’ ugly head when Baby Rosalie promises to fund the show … in exchange for the lead role. Patsy’s role. And Baby Rosalie makes moves on Mickey as well.
  • Charles Winninger (Show Boat 1936) as Joe Moran. Mickey’s father, who sees show business as a dead end. He simply wants a better career for his son. After all, he’s been reduced from vaudeville headliner to working an elevator. But Mickey has his own plans …
  • Guy Kibbee (Joy of Living) as Judge John Black. The judge who hears the case from Martha Steele who wants the kids taken from their vaudeville parents. And later, when Mickey gets into a fight, and rules that he has to pay damages.
  • June Preisser as “Baby” Rosalie Essex. A former child star in vaudeville. She offers to bankroll the show to showcase her talents. And she takes aim at Mickey as well, setting up a romantic triangle.
  • Grace Hayes as Florrie Moran. Mickey’s mother, a former vaudeville star.
  • Betty Jaynes (Meet the People) as Molly Moran. Mickey’s sister, who sides with him in the dispute with her parents, and part of the show.

Secondary characters

  • Douglas McPhail (Broadway Melody of 1940) as Don Brice. One of the vaudeville kids, with multiple songs in the show.
  • Rand Brooks (Gone With the Wind) as Jeff Steele. Martha’s menu, attending military school. He gets into a fight with Mickey, causing legal trouble.
  • Margaret Hamilton (Wizard of Oz) as Martha Steele. One of the antagonists, who doesn’t see the practicality of show business. And wants to “rescue” the kids from it.
  • Joseph Crehan (Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome) as Mr. Essex. Baby’s father, who pulls her out of the show towards the end, literally “setting the stage” for a happy ending.
  • Henry Hull (Werewolf of London) as Maddox. The producer who enables the happy ending for the show & the kids.


  • Babes in Arms (1937) Music by Richard Rodgers, Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
  • Where or When (1937) Music by Richard Rodgers, Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
  • Good Morning (1939) Music by Nacio Herb Brown, Lyrics by Arthur Freed
  • God’s Country (1937) Music by Harold Arlen, Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg
  • Give My Regards to Broadway (1904) Written by George M. Cohan
  • Ja Da (1918) Written by Bob Carleton
  • Rock-a-Bye Baby (1886) Written by Effie I. Canning
  • Silent Night, Holy Night (1818) Music by Franz Xaver Gruber
  • Toot, Toot, Tootsie (Goo’ Bye!) (1922) Written by Ernie Erdman, Dan Russo and Gus Kahn
  • Auld Lang Syne (1788)
  • The Broadway Melody (1929) Music by Nacio Herb Brown, Lyrics by Arthur Freed
  • Singin’ in the Rain (1929) Music by Nacio Herb Brown, Lyrics by Arthur Freed
  • You Are My Lucky Star (1935) Music by Nacio Herb Brown, Lyrics by Arthur Freed
  • The Darktown Strutters’ Ball (1917) Written by Shelton Brooks
  • I Like Opera/I Like Swing (1939)
  • Figaro (1939) Words and music by Roger Edens
  • Broadway Rhythm (1935) Music by Nacio Herb Brown, Lyrics by Arthur Freed
  • A-Tisket, A-Tasket
  • Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush
  • The Lady Is a Tramp (1937) Music by Richard Rodgers
  • I Cried for You (1923) Written by Gus Arnheim, Abe Lyman, Arthur Freed
  • My Daddy Was a Minstrel Man (1937) Written by Roger Edens
  • Gwine to Rune All Night (1850) (“De Camptown Races“) Written by Stephen Foster
  • The Old Folks at Home (Swanee River) (1851) Written by Stephen Foster
  • Oh! Susanna (1846) Written by Stephen Foster
  • Mr. Bones and Mr. Tambo (1939) Words and Music by Roger Edens
  • Ida! Sweet as Apple Cider (1903) Music by Eddie Munson, Lyrics by Eddie Leonard
  • Moonlight Bay (1912) Music by Percy Wenrich, Lyrics by Edward Madden
  • I’m Just Wild About Harry (1921) Music by Eubie Blake, Lyrics by Noble Sissle
  • My Day – Performed by Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland imitating Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelt (Cut from the film after Roosevelt’s death in 1945, but available in some DVD’s)
  • The Stars and Stripes Forever (1897) Music by John Philip Sousa
    Played in the show
  • Bob White (Whatcha Gonna Swing Tonight?) (1937) Music by Bernard Hanighen, Lyrics by Johnny Mercer

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