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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Musical > Teens > The Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland Collection (Babes In Arms/Babes On Broadway/Girl Crazy/Strike Up The Band; Warner Home Video DVD)

The Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland Collection (Babes In Arms/Babes on Broadway/Girl Crazy/Strike Up The Band; Warner Home Video DVD)

 

Picture: C+†††† Sound: C†††† Extras: B-†††† Films: B-

 

 

Though many films were aimed at teens and families in the late 1930s/early 1940s, but when the pairing of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney became a surprise hit for MGM, the powers that be repaired them three more times leading to one of the best (and richly produced) teen series of films ever.The new Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland Collection from Warner (who owns the original MGM films to 1986) has issued all four of their pairings in an exceptionally fancy box set.

 

The formula is to simply add a certain amount of comedy and show-off music talent moments (singing, instrument playing, dancing or any combination thereof) to the boy-meets-girl formula.So what can distinguish the four films?Guest stars, behind and i1n front of the camera.Note that the duo were not playing the same characters in each film, so this is not a film series per se.

 

Babes In Arms (1939) is a Rodgers & Hart piece with no less than Busby Berkeley directing this backstage musical and even Margaret Hamilton showing up.The surprise hit was such since classic songs like Iím Just Wild About Harry, You Are My Lucky Star and the title song work in the sequences filmed and the duo were on their way.

 

Strike Up The Band (1940) has the ever-annoying title song, but the duo meets through a radio program and that backdrop is a plus along with the return of Berkeley.Rooney gets to show off his drumming and Garland is easily convincing as a singer at the station.

 

Babes On Broadway (1941) has the duo launching a show to raise funds to help orphans (what good kids!) and Berkeley is back to make it all work.Of the several songs here, By The Light Of The Silvery Moon is the biggest classic.

 

Girl Crazy (1943) has Gershwin classics, Rooney going to a boyís college and meeting garland, a young Nancy Walker, June Allison and Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra in a fitting close to their run of films.The classic and somewhat infamous I Got Rhythm wraps up the film.

 

 

The 1.33 X 1 image on all four films were shot in black and white, then processed by MGM in their glossiest stocks.Though limited by the definition limits of the DVD itself, these transfers are pretty good.The Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono on the films is not as good, especially on Broadway, which sounds too brittle for its own good.Hope they are all fixed for HD.

 

Extras for each include new intros by Rooney, Leo Is On The Air radio promo, bonus animated shorts and original theatrical trailers.Arms adds audio commentary by historian John Fricke, Vintage Our Gang/Little Rascals short Duel Personalities, classic cartoon The Mad Maestro, 1939 Newsreel with Mickey and Judy and audio-only bonuses three different radio shows with Rooney and Garland.Band adds Pete Smith specialty comedy short Wedding Bills, classic cartoon Romeo in Rhythm, "Do the La Conga" stereo remix version and audio-only bonuses Millions for Defense radio special with Mickey and Judy and an additional radio show with Rooney and Garland.Broadway adds Pete Smith Specialty comedy short How to Hold Your Husband Back, classic cartoon Dance of the Weed and audio-only bonuses two (2) Leo Is On The Air Radio Promos, Radio Show Adaptation of Merton of the Movies with Rooney and Garland and Chin Up! Cheerio! Carry On! Song Demo performed by composer Burton Lane.Crazy adds another solid audio commentary by historian John Fricke, vintage short Hollywood Daredevils, classic cartoon The Early Bird Dood It, I Got Rhythm stereo remix version and audio-only bonus of Bronco Busters Outtake.

 

Additionally, the fancier-than-usual box includes a booklet with a bonus DVD offering a Judy Garland Songbook sampling highlights from her hit MGM films and a butchered Born in A Trunk clip from her 1954 triumph A Star Is Born.The film was 2.55 X 1 CinemaScope and this clip lops the sides off.You also get a Mickey & Judy Trailer Gallery, portfolio of glossy mini-stills and solid installment of the interviews series Private Screenings with Mickey Rooney - 1996 TCM special hosted by Robert Osborne.That is exceptional packaging and if you like the stars or these films, you canít go wrong with this set.

 

 

-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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