Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 1939. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Screenplay by Jack McGowan, Kay Van Riper, based on the play by Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart. Cinematography by Ray June. Produced by Arthur Freed. Music by George Bassman, George Stoll. Production Design by Cedric Gibbons. Costume Design by Dolly Tree. Film Editing by Frank Sullivan. Academy Awards 1939.
Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney started a subgenre with this seminal “Let’s put on a show!” musical that features the duo singing some of their more popular songs, starting with “Good Morning” and going all the way to the explicitly racist, bojangles patriotic number finale. Rooney plays the son of a vaudevillian couple who are going through hard times with the advent of motion pictures. He and his fellow second-generation vaudeville chums decide to put on their own show to raise money for the folks and prove that they themselves are talents worth taking seriously in the new world of entertainment. As usual, Garland loves him, and as usual, he goes for a blonde before finally realizing his responsibility. It lags at points, and Strike Up The Band is better (and better scored), but the kids are fun. Based on the Rodgers and Hart play, but much of the score and original story have been changed.