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Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

While “Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure” may not be as deep or dark as its 1955 counterpart, for a direct-to-video family animated film, the storyline is accessible, safe and entertaining! If you are a parent or a person who grew up watching the original “Lady & the Tramp”, “Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure” is definitely recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2012 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

BLU-RAY TITLE: Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure

MOVIE RELEASE DATE: 2001

DURATION: 69 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:78:1 Aspect Ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: G

DVD RELEASE DATE: August 21, 2012

Directed by Darrell Rooney, Jeannine Roussel

Screenplay by Bill Motz, Bob Roth

Additional Screenplay Material by Tom Rogers, Flip Kobler, Cindy Marcus

Produced by Jeannine Roussel

Associate Producer: David W. King

Music by Danny Troob

Edited by Susan Edmunson

Casting by Jamie Thomason

Production Design by Robert St. Pierre

Art Direction by Robert Schaefer, Fred Warter

Featuring the Voices of:

Scott Wolf as Scamp

Alyssa Milano as Angel

Chazz Palminteri as Buster

Jeff Bennett as Tramp/Jock the Scottish Terrier/Trusty/Dogcatcher

Jodi Benson as Lady

Bill Fagerbakke as Mooch

Mickey Rooney as Sparky

Bronson Pinchot as Francois

Cathy Moriarty as Ruby

Mary Kay Bergman as Si

Debi Derryberry as DArling

Nick Jameson as Jim Dear

Tress MacNeille as Aunt Sarah/Am

Andrew McDonogh as Junior

Rob Paulsen as Otis

Kath Soucie as Collette

Frank Welker as Reggie

April Winchell as Mrs. Mahoney, the Street-Wig Woman

Jim Cummings as Tony

Michael Gough as Joe

Roger Bart as Scamp (Singing Voice)

Jess Harnell as Buster (Singing Voice)

Susan Egan as Angel (Singing Voice)

Disney’s beloved classic continues in Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure – for the first time ever on Disney Blu-ray. Lady and Tramp’s mischievous pup Scamp is always in the doghouse. Now, an itch for a collar-free life and freedom is sending him on the ultimate adventure! With nonstop laughs, paw-tapping songs and exciting bonus features, Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure is a new breed of Disney fun that the whole family will love!

Walt Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp” is a classic animated film that has entertained generations upon generations since its theatrical release back in 1955.

But the idea for the film actually happened nearly 20-years prior when Disney writer Joe Grant came up with an idea to make a story built around an idea inspired by his Springer Spaniel named Lady, and how his dog was pushed aside upon the birth of his child.

In 1955, the film made its theatrical debut and was a enormous success in the box office.

Fastforward nearly 60-years-later and in 2001, “Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure” was released direct-to-video.  Directed by Darrell Rooney (who worked on animated series such as “Smurfs”, “Pac-Man”, “The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride”) and Jeannine Rousel (who worked on “The Addams Family”, “2 Stupid Dogs”, “Captain Planet and the Planeteers”) and featuring a screenplay by Bill Motz and Bob Roth (both worked on “The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride”, “The Return of Jafar”, “Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas”).

The film would feature voices by Scott Wolf (“Party of Five”, “Go”, “V”), Alyssa Milano (“Charmed”, “Who’s the Boss?”), Chazz Palminteri (“The Usual Suspects”, “A Bronx Tale”, “Analyze This”), Jodi Benson (“The Little Mermaid”, “Toy Story” films), Bill Fagerbakke (“Coach”, “The Artist”, “SpongeBob SquarePants”), Bronson Pinchot (“Perfect Strangers”, “Risky Business”), Jeff Bennett (“Enchanted”, “The Replacements”), Cathy Moriarty (“Raging Bull”, “Kindergarten Cop”) and Mickey Rooney (“National Velvet”, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, “Boys Town”).

“Lady and the Tramp II: Scamo’s Adventure” is set in 1911 and Jim Dear is trying to give all of Tramp and Lady’s pups a bath.  The two have three daughters who look like Lady and a mischievous son named Scamp who looks like his father.

Scamp loves playing with the baby but in the process, he ruins Jim’s hat.  Jim gives Scamp a warning and Tramp tries to discipline his son but Scamp just wants to have fun.

After taking a bath, he gets muddy and messes up the entire living room.  Upset with Scamp, Jim feels that the only way to punish him is to have him stay outside in the doghouse and being chained.

While Lady and Tramp are saddened that Jim had to resort to punishing Scamp, they know he did it with best intentions.  Tramp tries to talk to his son, but Scamp is more interested in having fun and not live with a family.  Thinking life would be better to be free!

So, while he is chained outside, he sees a ruckus outside of the gate as a dogkeeper are trying to catch stray dogs.  Thinking that these dogs are having a lot of fun, Scamp manages to break through his chain and hang out with the stray dogs known as the Junkyard Dogs.

He befriends a young female dog named Angel and Scamp tries to join the Junkyard Dogs and feels that life away from a family is such a great life.  But in the process, the leader of the Junkyard Dogs, Buster, wants Scamp to prove his courage in order to join the group.  So, he has Scamp doing several tests and is amazed by Scamps ability.

While hanging out with the Junkyard Dogs, a dog named Sparky tells Scamp an exaggerated story about a legendary dog named Tramp who was able to avoid dozens of dog catchers and that he was looked up upon by the Junkyard Dogs but one day he disappeared.  Hearing the story, Buster gets upset and tells them that Tramp didn’t die as a hero, he chose to run off with a female dog named Lady to become a house pet.  And Buster chose Lady over Buster and the Junkyard Dogs.

And right then, Scamp realizes that the stories of this legendary dog is his parents.

Shocked that his father was a Junkyard Dog, he can’t believe that his father would leave this adventurous life to be a housepet.  But for Angel, she tells Scamp that her dream is to live with a family.  He doesn’t understand why would anyone want to stay with a family, stuck in a house and having the same routine over and over.  But Angel tells him that she would choose living with a loving family than living on the streets.

Meanwhile, afraid for his son, Tramp hopes that he can find Scamp before he gets into trouble.

When Buster finds out that Scamp is the son of Tramp, Buster who has always had spite towards Tramp, figures why not try to take away his son from him.  So, when Scamp is asked if he rather stay with the Junkyard Dogs to have a life of freedom or to go back to his father and be stuck in a house and treated as a pet, which life will Scamp choose?

VIDEO:

“Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  And make no doubt about this direct-to-video sequel, despite it not being a Disney animated feature film, the film is well-detailed when it comes to its scenery and objects, vibrant and looks great in HD.  If anything, despite being made in 2001, this film holds up incredibly well in 2012.  Not only does the film take the characters from the 1955 animated film and bringing them to the digital realm.

While the background scenery is well-detailed, the character designs are good.  A bit soft at times but for the most part, this film does look very good for a direct-to-video sequel.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.  The lossless audio track could have been better if it used the surround channels because most of the audio, I heard coming through the center and front channels only.  Even during the more action-based scenes, I didn’t really hear the surround channels or LFE used as much.

With that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear coming through the center and front channels but wished it was much more immersive.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure” comes with the following special features:

  • Puppy Trivia Tracks – While watching the film, you can watch with fun facts displayed onscreen.
  • The Making of Lady and the Tramp II: From Tramp to Scamp – (16:34) The making of “Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure” and how the film came to be and the process of making the film.
  • Sing-Along Songs – Featuring a sing-along (ala karaoke style) for five music tracks from the film: “(Prologue) Welcome home”, “World Without Fences”, “Junkyard Society Rag”, “I Didn’t Know I Could Feel This Way”, “Always There”.
  • Disney Animated Shorts featuring Pluto – Featuring “Pluto, Junior” (7:08), “Bone Trouble” (8:42) and “Pluto’s Kid Brother” (6:51).
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with director Darrell Rooney, animation director Steve Trenbirth and co-director/producer Jeannine Roussel.

EXTRAS:

“Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure” comes with a slipcover case and a DVD version of the film presented in 1:78:1 widescreen, English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital with English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.

When it comes to direct-to-video sequels, I know there are many parents who feel that these videos are primarily created for families and storylines that are safe and geared towards children.

For the most part, “Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure” is a family film that will no doubt entertain children and even those that are young at heart and grew up with the original “Lady and the Tramp” film.

And while most older Disney films never had a sequel, for any Disney fan who grew up with these films, you wonder to yourself, “what if a sequel was made?”.

And for this sequel, while this is a film that I probably never expected a sequel being created, I was surprised back in 2001 but also excited because we get to see the characters brought into modern times using CG and different animation than its 1955 counterpart.

What I enjoyed about “Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure” is the continuing of the storyline from the first film.  At the end of “Lady and the Tramp”, we watched as Lady had given birth to pups and the Dear family also welcoming a baby.  This time around, the pups are slightly older and the Dear’s baby is now a young toddler who has bonded with the dogs.

And for the most part, the storyline works rather well because we get to see Lady and Tramp’s children much older, we also see the Dear family having formed a strong bond with Lady, Tramp and the puppies but also seeing Scamp  exhibiting part of his father’s mischievous behavior.  Granted, father Tramp is now much more mature and wants the best for his children, but Scamp wants to see the world.

It has that similarity to the first film when Tramp was trying to show Lady his free life and how much more adventurous life would be if she didn’t live in the Dear home.  The same thing happens this time around but it’s Buster and other dogs from the Junkyard who want to entice Scamp to leave his life of being a pet and living in a house, and have more adventure and freedom while living with them.

It’s an accessible storyline that is easy for children to understand, fans who grew up watching the film to enjoy the film and its connection to the original “Lady and the Tramp” and most of all, seeing a sequel that is modernized and taking the characters and having a storyline that would appeal to a new generation.

With “Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure” being released on Blu-ray, the details of objects and scenery are well-detailed and despite being a direct-to-video sequel, by no means does it mean that this film is lower in quality.  The film despite being released in 2001 (and having a bit of softness), still looks great for a direct-to-video sequel, especially being released now in 2012, the film looks very good in HD, especially on Blu-ray.  Dialogue and musical scenes are crystal clear and for the most part, “Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure” looks and sounds good on Blu-ray!

And as for special features,  “Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure” comes with a making of, trivia, sing-along songs plus three bonus animated shorts featuring Pluto and more!

While “Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure” may not be as deep or dark as its 1955 counterpart, for a direct-to-video family animated film, the storyline is accessible, safe and entertaining and looks and sounds great on Blu-ray!

If you are a parent or a person who grew up watching the original “Lady & the Tramp”, “Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure” is definitely recommended!

Little Lord Fauntleroy (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

“Little Lord Fauntleroy” is a charming, heartwarming film that showcases an amazing performance from its cast, especially from the young Freddie Bartholomew.  If you enjoy positive, upbeat, classic Hollywood films from the 1930’s, “Little Lord Fauntleroy” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Kino Lorber, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Little Lord Fauntleroy

YEAR OF RELEASE: 1936

DURATION: 101 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:33:1), Black and White, 2.0 Mono

COMPANY: Kino Classics/Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

Release Date: June 26, 2012

Directed by John Cromwell

Based on the Book by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Screenplay by Hugh Walpole

Producer: David O. Selznick

Music by Max Steiner

Cinematography by Charles Rosher

Edited by Hal C. Kern

Art Direction by Sturges Carne

Costume Design by Sophie Wachner

Starring:

Freddie Bartholomew as Ceddie

Dolores Costello as “Dearest”

C. Aubrey Smith as The Earl of Dorincourt

Guy Kibbee as Mr. Hobbs

Henry Stephenson as Havisham

Mickey Rooney as dick

Constance Collier as Lady Lorridaile

E.E. Clive as Sir Harry Lorridaile

Una O’Connor as Mary

Jackie Searl as Tom

Jessie Ralph as The Applewoman

Ivan F. Simpson as Rev. Mordaunt

Helen Flint as Minna

Eric Alden as Ben

May Beatty as Mrs. Mellon

Virginia Field as Miss Herbert

Reginald Barlow as Newick

Lionel Belmore as Higgins

Tempe Pigott as Mrs. Dibble

Gilbert Emery as Purvis

John Cromwell’s 1936 film version of LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY is the definitive rendering of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved novel, a heartwarming classic with delightful performances from Freddie Bartholomew and Mickey Rooney.

After the death of her husband, the patient Mrs. Errol (Delores Costello) raises Ceddie (Batholomew) with much goodwill, but little money. Out of the blue, Ceddie is summoned to England to become heir to the fortune of the Earl of Dorincourt (C. Aubrey Smith), his estranged grandfather, and take the title of Lord Fauntleroy. But there are obstacles: the curmudgeonly Earl refuses to allow Mrs. Errol into his home, and then another young boy claims to be the true inheritor. Only through the intervention of Ceddie’s old Brooklyn friends can this mess be put straight.

Mastered in HD from an original nitrate 35mm print, preserved by the George Eastman House Motion Picture Department.

In the late 1800’s, there was one book that was so popular, it led to the popularity of velvet.   The book was “Little Lord Fauntleroy”, written by English playwright and author Frances Hodgson Burnett and was originally published in St. Nicholas Magazine between Nov. 1885 through Oct. 1886 and later followed as a book.

The book was quite elaborate when it came to the details of the young Fauntleroy’s clothing that its impact on American fashion, primarily with children as parents would dress their kids in suits and away from skirted garments which were favored at the time.

Considered as the ultimate “rags to riches” story at the time, the book would receive several film adaptations from 1914-1995.  The best known versions were the 1921 film starring Mary Pickford, a 1980 version starring Alec Guiness, Rick Schroder and Eric Porter but the best known adaptation is the 1936 film starring Freddie Bartholomew and Dolores Costello.

The film was directed by John Cromwell (“Of Human Bondage”, “Since You Went Away”, “Made For Each Other”, “The Prisoner of Zenda”) and a screenplay by Hugh Walpole (“David Copperfield”, “Vanessa: Her Love Story”, “Kind Lady”) and the film would make Freddie Bartholomew as one of the most highly sought after child actors and also the second paid child actor after Shirley Temple.   Which unfortunately, also became a double-edged sword for Bartholomew as the success of the film would lead to his long-estranged birth parents trying to gain custody and control of his fortune, a seven-year-battle which took a toll on Barthlomew and his career.

But despite the legal troubles and hardships that Bartholomew would experience after 1936, he will forever be remembered for his performance in the film “Lord Little Fauntleroy”.  And now, the film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in 2012 courtesy of Kino Lorber.

“Little Lord Fauntleroy” is a film that revolves around a young boy named Cedric “Ceddie” Errol (as portrayed by Freddie Bartholomew).  His father, a former Grenade Battalion soldier had died and leaving his mother, who he calls “Dearest” (as portrayed by Dolores Costello) alone.

Despite raising a child alone, Cedric’s mother has brought him up as a kind, well-mannered and proper individual.  While the family does live frugally, Cedric accepts and enjoys life because of his mother and friends, which include the local grocer, the local apple seller and his good friend, a shoeshiner named Dick (as portrayed by Mickey Rooney).

But unfortunately, Cedric’s time with his mother and friends will need to be cut short because he must go to live with his English grandfather, the Earl of Dorincourt (as portrayed by C. Aubrey Smith).

What Cedric doesn’t know is that the Earl and his mother do not get along.  The reason is because the Earl had disowned his son because he married an American.  And despite Cedric’s mother having no ill-feelings towards the Earl, because all of the Earl’s sons are dead, there will need to be an heir.

And in order to have a good life that his mother can not provide him, Cedric would have wealth, education and proper living if he goes to England.  So, while Cedric’s mother accompanies him to English (and will not be able to live with him at Dorincourt castle), the Earl’s lawyer tries to tell him that Cedric has grown up to be a proper young an and his mother also having a good heart.

But the Earl of Dorincourt will not listen.  He is prejudiced against the American and it’s no surprise to others, because the Earl of Dorincourt is also a bitter man who treats people badly.

But that changes when Cedric, now known as Little Lord Fauntleroy moves into the castle.  Immediately, his kindness is a breath of fresh air to the employees inside the castle and his heart wins them over.  And because Cedric treats his grandfather with so much love and compassion, this also marks a change into the Earl of Dorincourt’s behavior.  Giving him a new lease on life and now showing kindness to his employees but also the people of the town.

But despite the happiness that Little Lord Fauntleroy has towards his grandfather, everyone knows that the young boy misses his mother so much.  Everyday he thinks about her and hopes that one day they can reunite.

And as British Society starts to meet Little Lord Fauntleroy and are taken by his good manners and charm, once everything looks good for both Cedric and his grandfather, bad news comes their way.

An American named Minna Tipton (as portrayed by Helen Flint) has insisted that her son Tom (as portrayed by Jackie Searl) is the offspring of her late husband, the eldest son of the Earl and she has proof that this is a valid claim.  To make things worse, the Earl receives news that both the mother and son are not well-educated, nor are they well-mannered.

Heartbroken by the latest developments, what will the Earl of Dorincourt do now?  And will his love for his grandson Cedric now change because he is no longer Earl?

VIDEO:

“Little Lord Fauntleroy” is presented in 1080p High Definition and was mastered in HD from an original nitrate 35 mm print, preserved by the George Eastman House Motion Picture Department.  With that being said, first thing I need to remind those who are not familiar to Kino Blu-rays is that unlike other companies that spend a lot of money on restoration (which is very expensive), Kino does not do the restoration, they release the original transfer on Blu-ray in the best quality possible.

And when it comes to films that were originally on nitrate, I’m usually expecting worse for wear.  Primarily because most films filmed on nitrate are now lost (because they were highly flammable and would spontaneously catch on fire) or was severely damaged.  Fortunately there are films that were taken care of, transferred to a better medium but during that time, the priority was saving the film not removing defects, specks, etc.  They were direct transfers that were not cleaned up.

With the release of “Little Lord Fauntleroy”, one can expect to see scenes with white specks, scenes that have some aging.  That is a given!  But the positive news is that for a film that was derived from an original 35 mm nitrate print, despite the specks and aging, this film looks very good on Blu-ray.  It looks like the original negative was not tampered as much, thus less damage.  I didn’t notice any acid or nitrate burns or excessive flickering or darkening.  If anything, this film looks very good for its age and considering where it was taken from.

While the video quality may not be as good as some of Kino’s Buster Keaton titles on Blu-ray, for those who have followed the David O. Selznick collection releases, should be happy with the overall release.  Especially since this is the best version of the film out on video to date.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

While “Little Lord Fauntleroy” does look good for a film nearly 80-years-old, sound-wise, it’s a different story.  The film is presented in 2.0 monaural and while the dialogue can be heard quite well, there is also quite a few moments of pops and clicks and during the musical moments of the film, especially for the intro or ending of the film, the sound seems a bit too loud and loses its clarity.    But those scenes are short and the good news is that the film does sound good and dialogue is clear for the majority of the film.

There are no subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Little Lord Fauntleroy” comes with no special features.

“Little Lord Fauntleroy” is a heartwarming classic that showcases American pride but also love for family.  In many ways, this is the kind of film that would be commonplace in America for the next two decades despite the focus on the middle-class family, we have a proper middleclass family with a boy with the heart of gold.

John Cromwell’s 1936 version of “Little Lord Fauntleroy” is probably the best film adaptation for the mere fact that Freddie Bartholomew plays the character of Ceddie Errol with complete efficacy.  He embodies the style and mannerisms of what one would think of Little Lord Fauntleroy that even Frances Hodgson Burnett would have been happy with his performance.

One has to bare in mind that 1930’s, many child stars depicted on the big screen were kids who managed to get in a bit of trouble but yet they were fun to watch and full of spunk.  May it be Hal Roach’s Little Rascals (Our Gang) to The East End Kids, even Little Rascals star Sid Kibrick makes an appearance in this film, as did a younger Mickey Rooney.

But one can see why the storyline was so popular when the novel was released in the late 1800’s.  This was a rags-to-riches story but also an inspiring story of love between a young boy and his mother, but yet treated everyone with kindness and respect.  Many parents can hope their kids could be as happy, kind like Ceddie and even in Cromwell’s film, Ceddie is the boy that many parents would love to have (or hope their kids could as well-mannered).

And then you have the pro-American, not-yet apple pie mentality with Ceddie telling his English grandfather that he is American, because he was born in America, despite his grandfather insisting that he is English.  And of course to show that even this little angel has his tough side as the local kids gang up on him and call him a “sissy” because of his clothes and he speaks proper English, and we see how this young boy is not afraid to defend himself and fight.

But as you have a film with so much humor, what literally wins you over is the film’s heart.  It’s relationships from Ceddie and his mother, as any one can understand the pain it is for a young boy to be separated from his mother but yet, he is able to keep a brave face for his grandfather.  And of course, to see his grandfather change with being around Ceddie and we see the transformation of this “grinch” who eventually becomes more and more compassionate.

With solid costume design and impressive performances by its cast, John Cromwell and Hugh Walpole were able to give incredible life to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved novel.  But once again, it’s Freddie Bartholomew who makes this film work.   As Jackie Cooper was able to bring this heartwarming emotion to his character Dink in the 1931 film “The Champ”, Freddie Bartholomew was able to knock the ball out of the ballpark with this performance that featured grace but fine attention to subtlety.  He embodies the character of Little Lord Fauntleroy and once you see him perform, you can understand why he was one of Hollywood’s most popular and famous child actors at that time.

And while Mickey Rooney was child actor who had appeared in many films by 1936 and was already well-known, for silent film fans, “Little Lord Fauntleroy” would also feature silent film actress Dolores Costello (who was married to silent actor John Barrymore) in one of her few talking films and the film would also star C. Aubrey Smith, who was an actor in Hollywood during the ’30s and ’40s, also best known for creating the Hollywood Cricket Club and also for his height at 6’4″.

As for the Blu-ray release, as mentioned earlier, you’re not going to find anything pristine for this film and for how good it looks considering it was mastered in HD from an original nitrate 35 mm print and is nearly 80-years-old. While I wish there were special features such as audio commentary or even an interview with Mickey Rooney, then again, not many film from the 1930’s on Blu-ray or DVD come with any.

Overall, “Little Lord Fauntleroy” is a charming, heartwarming film that showcases an amazing performance from its cast, especially from the young Freddie Bartholomew.  If you enjoy positive, upbeat, classic Hollywood films from the 1930’s, “Little Lord Fauntleroy” is recommended!

Babes in Arms (as part of the Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland Collection) (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

April 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The young talents at MGM who captivated everyone’s hearts… Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland.  Both absolutely shine in their 1939 film “Babes in Arms” and Warner Bros. has given the fans a fantastic box set celebrating the careers of both talents!  A wonderful musical with solid performances from beginning to end.  Highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2007 Turner Entertainment Co. and Warner Bros. Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Babes in Arms (as part of the Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland Collection)

DURATION: 93 minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Full Frame, Black and White, Monaural

RATED: UNRATED

COMPANY: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Released on September 25, 2007

Directed by Busby Berkeley

Written by Jack McGowan, Kay Van Riper

Play by Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers

Produced by Arthur Freed

Cinematography by Ray June

Edited by Frank Sullivan

Art Direction by Cedric Gibbons

Set Decoration by Edwin B. Willis

Costume Design by Dolly Tree

Starring:

Mickey Rooney as Micky Moran

Judy Garland as Patsy Barton

Charles Winninger as Joe Moran

Guy Kibbee as Judge John Black

June Preisser as Rosalie Essex

Grace Hayes as Florrie Moran

Betty Jaynes as Molly Moran

Douglas McPhail as Don Brice

Rand Brooks as Jeff Steele

Leni Lynn as Dody Martin

John Sheffield as Bobs

Henry Hull as Maddox

Barnett Parker as William Bartlett

Babes in Arms is considered the quintessential Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland musical. Freely adapted from the 1937 Rodgers and Hart Broadway hit of the same name, it marked the producing debut of Arthur Freed, who would go on to create some of the greatest musical films in motion picture history. To direct the film, Freed hired the legendary Busby Berkeley, who had recently migrated from Warner Bros. to Metro, and Berkeley neatly handled the film’s direction and choreography, with the results being a total sensation. The film went into production immediately after the completion (but before the release of) The Wizard of Oz (1939), and Oz fans will be amused to find “The Wicked Witch of the West” actress Margaret Hamilton, once again taking on the role of screen villainess. The semi-autobiographical plot features Rooney playing Mickey Moran, the talented son of a vaudeville team, who rounds up all his fellow child entertainers to stage a fund-raiser show to help out his financially-strapped folks. Variety called it “a topflight filmusical entertainment.”

Warner Home Video’s new DVD presents the home video premiere of the film as originally released in 1939. Previous video incarnations represented the film as it was cut for reissue after the end of World War II, when M-G-M removed a charming sequence featuring Mickey and Judy impersonating Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt. At the time, Metro felt the public would not want to see the recently deceased F.D.R. parodied on film, but unfortunately, the studio did not retain any film materials from this deleted number, as it had been cut out of all negatives and prints. Using a recently discovered collector’s print as source material, the “Roosevelt” sequence (a/k/a “My Day”) has been permanently restored to the film.

In celebration for the musicals of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, Warner Bros. has released a fantastic five-DVD set titled “Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland Collection.  A celebration for two young talents who would become a popular onscreen couple and would go on to make several wonderful musicals together.

One of those films was the 1939 film “Babes in Arms”, the first complete MGM film directed by Busby Berkeley for Warner Bros. and based on the 1937 Broadway musical. The film would break box office records and was among the top grossing films that year.  In fact, the film was so popular that Mickey Rooney was nominated for a 1940 Academy Award for “Best Actor” and Roger Edens and George Stoll were nominated for Best Score (note: It was a competitive award year for “Babes in Arms” as Judy Garland’s other popular film that year, “The Wizard of Oz”, was also nominated for several awards).

The DVD release of “Babes in Arms” included only on this DVD box set contains a parody sequence of Mickey Rooney as President Franklin Roosevelt and Judy Garland as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt which was removed after the death of President Roosevelt in 1945.  A sequence which was once thought as lost, was found on 16mm film and put back into the film for this DVD release.

“Babes in Arms” is a film about Mickey Moran (played by Mickey Rooney) and Patsy Barton (played by Judy Garland).  Boyfriend and girlfriend who are a wonderful musical team as Mickey played the piano and wrote the songs, while he and Patsy would sing together.

Both were born from hardworking parents working in vaudeville and like many children who grew up with performing parents, many didn’t go to school because they were performing on stage and traveling.  But as entertainment was going towards film and talkies, not many people were as interested in vaudeville anymore and thus, the parents of the children make a decision to travel again and perform vaudeville on stage and hopefully make money.  But unfortunately, because the children aren’t working, a social worker, Martha Steele (played by Margaret Hamilton) from the welfare department is concerned about the children and want them to be disciplined, to go to school for an education and for the older kids to be part of a work farm.  But the children vow to work and help their families.

So, Mickey Moran comes up with an idea to put on his own theatrical act titled “Babes in Arms” but in order to do that, money would be needed.  When both Mickey and Patsy meet up with former child star Rosalie Essex (played by June Preisser), Rosalie wants to be part of the show.  Seeing as Rosalie is wealthy and she probably could finance the show, Mickey goes to meet with her and sure enough, she’s willing to put money down.  But in return, she would have to be the main star.

This put Mickey in quite a conundrum because he has been working with his girlfriend Patsy to be the lead vocalist but knows that the only chance to finance the show is by giving Rosalie the main part. Will Mickey choose his love Patsy or will he choose Rosalie?

“Babes in Arms” would feature legendary songs such as “Good Morning” by Arthur Freed/Nacio Herb Brown, “I Cried For You” by Freed/Gus Arnheim/Abe Lyman, “Opera vs. Jazz” and Broadway number “God’s Country”.

VIDEO:

“Babes in Arms” is featured in 1:33:1, Black and White.  For the most part, the picture quality for this 70+ year-old-film looks fantastic.  You can see dust and speckles but not as numerous as most classic films.  Warner Bros. did a fantastic job remastering this film.   Blacks are nice and deep, grays and whites pop.  If there was any problems, it was near the end during the minstrel segment where picture quality becomes slightly aged, blurry and lines from the negative can be seen.  Not sure if that was because of the addition of the Roosevelt scenes but for the most part, “Babes in Arms” has a beautiful transfer for DVD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Babes in Arms” is featured in monaural and in English.  Dialogue is clear and understandable and music sounds good via Dolby Digital 1.0.  I preferred to watch this film with all channels set to stereo for a more immersive soundscape.

Subtitles are presented in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Babes in Arms” comes with the following special features:

  • Introduction by Mickey Rooney – (3:27) Mickey Rooney talks about the making of “Babes in Arms” and working with Judy Garland.
  • Commentary by historian John Fricke – A wonderful, in-depth commentary by film historian John Fricke who gives us all the detail and behind-the-scenes of “Babes in Arms”.
  • Vintage Our Gang short  – “Duel Personalities” – (9:54) An MGM “Our Gang” short featuring Alfalfa getting hypnotized and challenging Butch to a swordfight.
  • Classic cartoon – “The Mad Maestro” – (7:40) A classic MGM cartoon about an animal conductor and his animal musicians.
  • 1939 Newsreel with Mickey and Judy – (4:03) Featuring four newsreels which include Judy Garland celebrating her birthday, Mickey Rooney taking part in a diving competition, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland with the mayor of New York City in regards to the World’s Fair and Mickey & Judy promoting the March of Dimes.
  • Audio-only bonuses:
    o Leo Is on the Air radio promo
    – (4:43) “Leo is on the Air” radio promo for “Babes in Arms”.
    o 3 different radio shows with Rooney and Garland – Featuring lengthy radio show features which include the 9/24/1939 Gulf Screen Guild Theater Radio Broadcast (28:18), the 11/9/1941 Gulf Screen Guild Theater Radio Broadcast (27:59) and the “Good News of 1938″ Radio Show (13:40).
  • Theatrical Trailer – (3:30) The original theatrical trailer.

“Babes in Arms” is a very entertaining film and definitely shows the musical strengths of both Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.  Garland who shines during her vocal performances while Mickey Rooney literally steals the film with his acting and dancing.  The music was catchy, addictive and enjoyable and if anything, you could see how tremendous the chemistry of Rooney and Garland was onscreen.

Aside from Rooney and Garland, you also get to her the operatic performance of Betty Janes as Mickey Moran’s sister Molly who has a memorable performance along with Judy Garland via “Swings vs. Opera”.  Especially June Preisser, who shows us that she can do some amazing, flexible performances that looks as if it was a mix of gymnastics and even capoeira.

But the performances are enjoyable and fun to watch.  But I must warn those who are sensitive to racial portrayals of Blacks via the use of “Blackface” (all vaudeville children including Rooney and Garland’s characters during the performance of “Babes in Arms” are performing a minstrel act and thus all are in Blackface), may want to bypass this film.  It’s important to note that these type of performances were common in the 1910 through the 1930’s and although the film was released in 1939, the film is about the slowdown of Vaudeville acts more than a decade earlier and how it has affected the families of these performers.

Overall, if you are a fan of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland’s work, the collection is a magnificent DVD set.  Aside from the special features I mentioned above, the box set comes with “Babes in Arms”, “Strike Up the Band”, “Babes on Broadway”, “Girl Crazy”, a bonus DVD, a dozen or more still photographs, a mini book and more. As for the “Babes in Arms” DVD itself, you get a wonderful commentary track, an Our Gang MGM short, lengthy radio shows and more.

“Babes in Arms” is a wonderful musical and features the two popular young talents for MGM at the time.  Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland had remarkable chemistry and their performance on “Babes in Arms” really show off these two talents.   The movie is worth watching but the box set for the “Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland Collection” is definitely, highly recommended!

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