Harvard University

Film: Babes in Arms

Harvard Film Archive
24 Quincy Street
Sat., Jan. 7, 2017, 7 – 8:30 p.m.

Originally a Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart Broadway musical, Babes in Arms was the first of Berkeley’s string of Arthur Freed-produced MGM pictures with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. They play Mickey and Patsy, just two of many talented offspring of aging vaudeville entertainers who happen to populate an entire town. Their parents’ questionable lifestyles have incited a group of citizens—led by Margaret Hamilton, still in character from the Wizard of Oz, which had just wrapped up production—to urge the court to send these proto-vaudevillians off to a work farm. This inspires Berkeley’s surreal sequence worthy of Henry Darger, the titular “Babes in Arms,” which tracks from the air a mob of otherwise wholesome children in the streets at night, jumping fences, burning their childish things and dancing in rings around dark playgrounds. Usually adorned by even smaller children playing violins or pretending to be adults, Rooney and Garland have an undeniable ease with one another, she playing the stalwart angel to his histrionic budding director. Eventually, they manage to stage an outdoor minstrel show in blackface, which comes to a thankfully abrupt end with a storm. Berkeley follows this up with the children’s Broadway debut: “God’s Country,” a patriotic finale featuring a whitewashed, multiethnic representation that renders the sweet narrative naïve, contradictory and somewhat forced, trying to feign innocence as the world falls under a dark shadow

Gazette Classification: Film
Open to: Public and Harvard community
Category: Film
Library Location: Harvard Film Archive
More info: hcl.harvard.edu…

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