Babes on Broadway (1942)

121 mins | Musical | January 1942

Director:

Busby Berkeley

Producer:

Arthur Freed

Cinematographer:

Lester White

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

Noted columnist and radio personality Alexander Woollcott appeared as himself in a brief segment at the beginning of the film. The sequence is set at a broadcast of Woollcott's weekly radio program The Town Crier , in which he advises all aspiring performers to work hard and hold on to their dreams of becoming Broadway stars. The appearance marked Woollcott's first time onscreen since the 1935 film The Scoundrel (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.3926). According to HR news items, Shirley Temple was originally cast in the role of "Barbara Jo," and Roy Del Ruth was scheduled to direct the film. The film would have marked Temple's first film at M-G-M, but instead she went into production on Kathleen (see below). News items include Jean Porter and The Peters Brothers in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. The film marked the motion picture debut of child actress Margaret O'Brien, who became one of M-G-M's most popular child stars of the 1940s.
       Babes on Broadway was a very successful film that capitalized on the popularity of the teaming of stars Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, especially in such films as the 1939 Babes in Arms (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.0194). Babes on Broadway was one of several successful 1940s musicals which centered on a group of teenagers "putting on our own show." Several of the film's production numbers have been used in documentaries on film musicals of the 1940s, including the "Hoe Down" number and ... More Less

Noted columnist and radio personality Alexander Woollcott appeared as himself in a brief segment at the beginning of the film. The sequence is set at a broadcast of Woollcott's weekly radio program The Town Crier , in which he advises all aspiring performers to work hard and hold on to their dreams of becoming Broadway stars. The appearance marked Woollcott's first time onscreen since the 1935 film The Scoundrel (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.3926). According to HR news items, Shirley Temple was originally cast in the role of "Barbara Jo," and Roy Del Ruth was scheduled to direct the film. The film would have marked Temple's first film at M-G-M, but instead she went into production on Kathleen (see below). News items include Jean Porter and The Peters Brothers in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. The film marked the motion picture debut of child actress Margaret O'Brien, who became one of M-G-M's most popular child stars of the 1940s.
       Babes on Broadway was a very successful film that capitalized on the popularity of the teaming of stars Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, especially in such films as the 1939 Babes in Arms (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.0194). Babes on Broadway was one of several successful 1940s musicals which centered on a group of teenagers "putting on our own show." Several of the film's production numbers have been used in documentaries on film musicals of the 1940s, including the "Hoe Down" number and "Bombshell from Brazil/Mamá yo quiero," in which Rooney impersonated popular Twentieth Century-Fox star Carmen Miranda. In another sequence of the film, in which the characters of "Tommy" and "Peggy" think about the past stars who played the Duchess Theater, Garland and Rooney impersonate several dramatic and musical stars of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, including Richard Mansfield, Fay Templeton, Sir Harry Lauder, Blanche Ring, Sarah Bernhardt and George M. Cohan. Songs heard briefly in that sequence include "I've Got Rings on My Fingers," "Mary," "Yankee Doodle Boy" and "She Is Ma Daisy." Burton Lane and Arthur Freed were nominated for an Academy Award for their song "How About You." More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
6 Dec 1941.
---
Daily Variety
2 Dec 1941.
---
Film Daily
3 Dec 41
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Feb 41
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Feb 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Mar 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Mar 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Apr 41
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jul 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jul 41
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jul 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 41
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Nov 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Nov 41
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Dec 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 41
p. 5.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
6 Dec 41
p. 393.
New York Times
1 Jan 42
p. 37.
Variety
3 Dec 41
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Mus presentation
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
Men's ward
MUSIC
Mus adpt
Vocals and orch
Vocals and orch
Vocals and orch
SOUND
Rec dir
MAKEUP
Makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Pub dir
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Romanza in G Major" by Ludwig van Beethoven.
SONGS
"Babes on Broadway," "(I Like New York in June) How About You" and "Anything Can Happen in New York," music by Burton Lane, lyrics by Arthur Freed
"Hoe Down," music by Roger Edens, lyrics by Arthur Freed
"Chin Up, Cheerio, Carry On," music by Burton Lane, lyrics by E. Y. Harburg
+
SONGS
"Babes on Broadway," "(I Like New York in June) How About You" and "Anything Can Happen in New York," music by Burton Lane, lyrics by Arthur Freed
"Hoe Down," music by Roger Edens, lyrics by Arthur Freed
"Chin Up, Cheerio, Carry On," music by Burton Lane, lyrics by E. Y. Harburg
"Franklin D. Roosevelt Jones," music and lyrics by Harold J. Rome
"Bombshell from Brazil," music and lyrics by Roger Edens
"Mamãe eu quero," music and lyrics by Jararaca and Vicente Paiva.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
January 1942
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 31 December 1941
Production Date:
14 July--15 October 1941
addl scenes began 7 November 1941
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
5 December 1941
Copyright Number:
LP11315
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
121
Length(in feet):
10,583
Length(in reels):
13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
7803
SYNOPSIS

In New York City, Tommy Williams, Ray Lambert and Morton "Hammy" Hammond have been performing their song and dance act, "The Three Balls of Fire," at Nick's spaghetti joint, but are let go by Nick because business is bad. Despite their impoverished condition, when Tommy finds a five dollar bill in their tip box, he seeks out the woman who put it there, thinking that she must have made a mistake. Tommy has an immediate rapport with the woman, Miss Jones, and happily keeps the money when she says that it was not a mistake. They exhange cards and Tommy offers to show her the town if she calls them at their hangout, a drugstore frequented by Broadway hopefuls. The next day, the boys get a call from the office of Thornton Reed, the biggest producer on Broadway, and find that Miss Jones is actually "Jonesy," Reed's well-known assistant. She sets up an audition for them, but warns them not to tell anyone else because Reed does not like actors. Back at the drugstore, while Hammy and Ray tell their pals about the audition, Tommy sees singer Penny Morris crying and is immediately attracted to her. After giving her encouragement, he walks her home and meets her piano teacher father and one of his students, Barbara Jo, a child who lives at the Dorman Street settlement house, where Penny works. The next day, the audition is jammed and Reed is so angry that he refuses to listen to the boys' act. The three are despondent until Tommy gets the idea of becoming their own producer. Certain that they could raise the money by ... +


In New York City, Tommy Williams, Ray Lambert and Morton "Hammy" Hammond have been performing their song and dance act, "The Three Balls of Fire," at Nick's spaghetti joint, but are let go by Nick because business is bad. Despite their impoverished condition, when Tommy finds a five dollar bill in their tip box, he seeks out the woman who put it there, thinking that she must have made a mistake. Tommy has an immediate rapport with the woman, Miss Jones, and happily keeps the money when she says that it was not a mistake. They exhange cards and Tommy offers to show her the town if she calls them at their hangout, a drugstore frequented by Broadway hopefuls. The next day, the boys get a call from the office of Thornton Reed, the biggest producer on Broadway, and find that Miss Jones is actually "Jonesy," Reed's well-known assistant. She sets up an audition for them, but warns them not to tell anyone else because Reed does not like actors. Back at the drugstore, while Hammy and Ray tell their pals about the audition, Tommy sees singer Penny Morris crying and is immediately attracted to her. After giving her encouragement, he walks her home and meets her piano teacher father and one of his students, Barbara Jo, a child who lives at the Dorman Street settlement house, where Penny works. The next day, the audition is jammed and Reed is so angry that he refuses to listen to the boys' act. The three are despondent until Tommy gets the idea of becoming their own producer. Certain that they could raise the money by enlisting a charity, because America is "cause crazy," Tommy decides to use the settlement house when he learns that the children are being deprived of their summer in the country because of a lack of funds. The settlement house's manager, Mr. Stone, approves of the idea when Tommy, Penny and the others say that they will get talent from their friends and raise money for an auditorium by throwing a block party. The rehearsals go well and enthusiasm runs high for the 4th of July block party. When they learn, however, that twenty British refugee children will be making a short-wave broadcast to their parents in London on that day, Tommy decides to use their plight as his cause, revealing to the idolizing Penny that he an opportunist. On the day of the block party, a remorseful Tommy has a change of heart, and they raise enough money to put the show on for the settlement children. When Tommy goes to see Jonesy, who was at the party, she offers him and the others parts in Reed's new show, which is having difficulties in its Philadelphia tryouts. Tommy then begs Penny to come with him, but she cannot disappoint the kids. Tommy realizes that his feelings for her will not let him fail them, and he and Penny turn down Jonesy's offer. Impressed with their good-heartedness, Jonesy allows them to use Reed's long-closed Duchess Theater for their show and promises to have Reed attend. On opening night, after arduous refurbishing and rehearsals, the show opens to a full house, but Jonesy is unable to bring Reed. Then, a city inspector arrives and closes the show because the production is violating the fire laws. A demoralized Tommy apologizes to the audience, but soon learns that no one has demanded their money back, and some have even left more so the children can go on their holiday in the country. After Barbara Jo and the others offer to give Tommy the money to put his show on again, he turns them down. Just then, Reed, who has been summoned from Philadelphia by city officials, angrily arrives and Jonesy convinces him to watch a private performance of the show. Some time later, Reed presents Babes on Broadway in a lavish production. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.