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Mickey Rooney And The Generation Gap

they're the young generation

they’re the young generation

Born into Vaudeville, Mickey Rooney got his big break playing Andy Hardy at the age of 17 years and the same year performed with a youthful Judy Garland in another movie,. They would appear together in three Andy Hardy movies and help invent what would mutate into the modern teenager. 

Rooney was the teenage son of Judge Hardy leaving in the fictional town of Carvel and falling in love with Judy. While this was mainstream American (in the middle of WW2), the suggestion of youth as a special term of life was inherent and by the time of “Babes In Arm”, two years later, the collegiate Andy and Judy put on a show and with the help of every teen in their home town stormed Broadway. Maybe they weren’t trying to topple the Presidency but it was still “In Arms” -these were kids facing the draft, off to fight the Nazis and Japs, but in this dreamy, beautiful musical, directed Busby Berkeley with music by Rodgers and Hart, there biggest fight ws the move into vaudeville.

Not a million miles away from the musicals from the Great Depression, this was a palliative for Americans awaiting their entrance into the WW2,. It was coming. You can feel it in the air here, there is something sdeadly, something robbing American boys of their life, and it is hiding in the wings. But here is MIckey and Judy and everlasting love is what awaits them. “Hey kids, let’s put on a show” while Europe burned.

Ten years after this movie was released, WW2 was history and the Baby Boomers were giving American optimism a chance. Twenty years after this movie was released, the hippie dream was crashing down on the teens head and the dream would soon be over.

But “Babes In Arm”, despite itself, was the first stirrings of the generation gap. The gap that started when teen boys were shipped off to die and came as close as they could to rebelling by not listening to the adults who were telling them to sit down and shut up.

It made Andy Rooney the most popular star of 1939.

With his open face and infectious smile, Rooney was the American teen -he was the blueprint for what was coming up a generation later: a rebellion into righteousness both innocent yet of the world. “Babes In Arm” was the earliest stirrings of teenage protest.


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