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Case Number 12360

Buy The Mickey Rooney And Judy Garland Collection at Amazon

The Mickey Rooney And Judy Garland Collection

Babes In Arms
1939 // 96 Minutes // Not Rated
Strike Up The Band
1940 // 120 Minutes // Not Rated
Babes On Broadway
1941 // 118 Minutes // Not Rated
Girl Crazy
1943 // 99 Minutes // Not Rated
Released by Warner Bros.
Reviewed by Judge Bryan Pope (Retired) // November 8th, 2007

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All Rise...

If we have to hear Judge Bryan Pope shout "Let's do a show!" one more time at our weekly staff meeting, someone is gonna get hurt.

The Charge

"Let's put on a show!"

Opening Statement

Even though that line is ingrained in our cinematic lexicon, I imagine few young movie lovers of today have ever actually watched one of Mickey Rooney's and Judy Garland's musicals. There's no denying the films are square by contemporary standards, but they're still fabulously entertaining, as this knockout collection from Warner Bros. proves.

Facts of the Case

Between 1937 and 1948, Mickey and Judy appeared together in a whopping ten pictures. Only four of those—Babes in Arms, Strike Up the Band, Babes on Broadway and Girl Crazy—are true Mickey-and-Judy, "Let's put on a show!" musicals. They're all included on this five-disc set that includes vintage still photos, a handsomely produced book and a disc bursting with supplemental features.

The Evidence

When Judy Garland sits at the piano in Girl Crazy and begins to play, it's a sweet moment. It's also a telling one. Film historian John Fricke, on one of his two invaluable commentaries included with this set, relates a conversation Judy had with one of her husbands, who had asked why she didn't play the piano in her act. "No," she replies, "this is something I do for myself. If anybody else knows about it, I'll have to do this for everybody, too." That's a heartbreaking statement made by a born entertainer fighting to hold on to a small part of herself. It was one of many battles she lost.

The stories of Judy's personal and professional turmoil are part of Hollywood lore. Same goes for Mickey, if to a lesser extent. Both suffered financial troubles and a string of failed marriages. Judy's problems were compounded by an addiction to pills. What was it about Mickey that made him a survivor? Personal will? Sheer luck? I don't know, but watch him as he introduces each of their films and you'll see his entire life etched into his face.

Their sad history makes The Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland Collection a poignant affair, but it doesn't keep the set from being a fun and fascinating cinematic time capsule. Watch the films in chronological order and you'll see Judy transform from meek ugly duckling in Babes in Arms to independent beauty in Girl Crazy. She also reveals a sly knack for comedy that nicely offsets Rooney's unbridled energy. Don't believe me? Check out their "Our Love Affair" piano duet in Strike Up the Band. Frustration over unrequited love has never been so quietly or hilariously expressed.

Celebrated director Busby Berkeley helmed the first three films in this collection. Gone are the crazy exercises in geometry found in his earlier films, but his fingerprints are still everywhere, particularly in Strike Up the Band's gargantuan centerpiece, "Do the La Conga." The minstrel numbers in Babes in Arms will make you cringe, but Girl Crazy's "Embraceable You" shows Judy at her most confident and elegant, and "Chin Up! Cheerio! Carry On!" from Babes on Broadway is a rousing crowd-pleaser. For his part, Rooney gets to show off his prowess on the drums in "Nell of New Rochelle," also from Strike Up the Band.

The two were box-office dynamite together, and this collection—the most exciting, elegant package of vintage musicals to ever spring forth from the Warner Bros. vault—is an exciting celebration of their work. The sturdy cardboard case—love the classy foil finish—contains two folders and a hardback book. One folder holds four discs (one film per disc plus extras), while the other houses twenty black-and-white publicity stills. The nearly fifty-page book is a stunner, packed with yet more film stills and publicity photos, and rounded out by Fricke's informative production notes. The book also serves as a guide to each disc on the set.

On the inside front cover is a bonus disc with yet more goodies. Here you'll find Turner Classic Movie's Private Screenings with Mickey Rooney, hosted by Robert Osborne, again proving himself to be one of the world's most passionate movie lovers. You'll also find "The Judy Garland Songbook," a collection of musical numbers that, despite several curious omissions ("Over the Rainbow," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"), is a generous tribute to her amazing talent. Finally, check out trailers for the ten films in which Mickey and Judy appeared together.

Now, on to the films themselves. Rooney opens each with a warm, humble welcome. The introductions last a scant two or three minutes each, but Rooney is the sole living link to these decades-old films, so his presence is critical to this collection's success.

Few know more about MGM's rich musical heritage than Fricke, which makes his dense commentary on Babes in Arms a vital supplemental feature. Also included is the "Our Gang" short "Duel Personalities"; the classic cartoon "The Mad Maestro"; a vintage newsreel; two Gulf Screen Guild Theater Radio Broadcasts; the "Good News of 1938" radio show; a "Leo is On the Air" radio promo; and the original theatrical trailer.

Strike Up the Band comes with the Pete Smith comedy short "Wedding Bills"; the classic cartoon "Romeo in Rhythm"; a stereo remix of the film's "Do the La Conga" centerpiece; a 60-minute Lux Radio Theater Broadcast featuring Rooney and Garland; the 14-minute "Leo is On the Air" radio promo; the 14-minute "Millions for Defense" radio promo; and the original theatrical trailer.

Babes on Broadway includes the Pete Smith comedy short "How to Hold Your Husband—Back"; the Fantasia-esque classic cartoon "Dance of the Weed"; Burton Lane's guide track for "Chin Up, Cheerio, Carry On"; two "Leo is on the Air" radio promos; a Lux Radio Theater Broadcast of Merton of the Movies; and the film's theatrical trailer.

Fricke turns in another fascinating commentary on Girl Crazy, putting the film in its proper historical context without covering territory touched on his Babes in Arms commentary. Next up is Pete Smith's tribute to movie stuntmen, the fascinating "Hollywood Daredevils"; the classic Tex Avery cartoon "The Early Bird Dood It"'; a stereo remix of "I Got Rhythm"; a Bronco Busters audio outtake; and the film's theatrical trailer.

All four films are presented in their original full-screen format with Dolby mono soundtracks. None of the films look as clean as the other MGM musicals released in recent years. Surprisingly, I noticed more scratches and dirt here than I did on the films in The Busby Berkeley Collection, films that are five or more years older than those on this set. More surprising still is that the grainiest of the films is the youngest, Girl Crazy. But don't let that deter you from this set. All in all, the films are in reasonably good shape.

Closing Statement

This set is simply breathtaking, not only because of the historical content, but because of the wealth of extras that convey the feeling of what it was like to go to the movies in the 1940s. With each movie you get a live-action short, a cartoon and a trailer. You can easily find the set for less than $40, which is a steal. Highly recommended.

The Verdict

The charges brought against Warner Bros. and this gorgeously packaged collection are without grounds. Case dismissed.

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Genres

• Classic
• Concerts and Musicals

Scales of Justice, Babes In Arms

Video: 85
Audio: 85
Extras: 95
Acting: 90
Story: 80
Judgment: 88

Perp Profile, Babes In Arms

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 1939
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Babes In Arms

• Introduction by Mickey Rooney
• John Fricke commentary
• Live-action comedy short
• Classic cartoon
• Vintage newsreel
• Gulf Screen Guild Theater Radio Broadcasts
• "Good News of 1938" radio show
• "Leo is On the Air" radio promo
• Theatrical trailer

Scales of Justice, Strike Up The Band

Video: 85
Audio: 85
Extras: 85
Acting: 90
Story: 80
Judgment: 86

Perp Profile, Strike Up The Band

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 1940
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Strike Up The Band

• Introduction by Mickey Rooney
• Live-action comedy short
• Classic cartoon
• Stereo remix of "Do the La Conga"
• Lux Radio Theater Broadcast
• "Leo is On the Air" radio promo
• "Millions for Defense" radio promo
• Theatrical trailer

Scales of Justice, Babes On Broadway

Video: 85
Audio: 85
Extras: 85
Acting: 90
Story: 80
Judgment: 86

Perp Profile, Babes On Broadway

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 118 Minutes
Release Year: 1941
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Babes On Broadway

• Live-action comedy short
• Classic cartoon
• "Chin Up, Cheerio, Carry On" guide track
• "Leo is on the Air" radio promos
• Lux Radio Theater Broadcast of Merton of the Movies
• Theatrical trailer

Scales of Justice, Girl Crazy

Video: 75
Audio: 85
Extras: 95
Acting: 95
Story: 90
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile, Girl Crazy

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 1943
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Girl Crazy

• Introduction by Mickey Rooney
• John Fricke commentary
• Live-action short
• Classic cartoon
• "I Got Rhythm" stereo remix
• Bronco Busters audio outtake
• Theatrical trailer








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