Babes on Broadway (1941)

Genres - Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Backstage Musical, Musical Comedy  |   Run Time - 118 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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The "Hey gang, let's put on a show!" musicals that Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland starred in during the 1930s and 1940s have been mocked endlessly, especially since the emergence of "camp" as a pop force in the 1960s. Babes on Broadway, the 1941 entry in this series, has plenty to mock -- the obligatory "Say, kids!" rouser in which Rooney first gets his great idea, an abundance of other corny dialogue, songs shoehorned in for the slightest reason, and even a minstrel show (which is pretty uncomfortable to sit through). But the entire production is filled with an overarching innocence that makes the corniness palatable. More importantly, the film has Rooney and Garland in tip-top form. Rooney's unstoppable effervescence is put to good use, reaching a climax of sorts in a full-out Carmen Miranda impersonation. His impressions in the earlier "Ghost Theatre" sequence are not as polished, but Garland's are quite good. She also scores a knock-out with her performance of "F.D.R. Jones," and both are winning in the charming "How About You." Busby Berkeley's direction is rather more restrained than usual, but he still gets in some trademark licks, especially at the end. Babes is often hard to believe, but easy to take.