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Judy by the Numbers: "Got a New Pair of Shoes"

Anne Marie is tracking Judy Garland's career through musical numbers...

Though nobody guessed it when she was cast, Judy Garland’s fifth movie would be the first in a series starring the most famous child actor team in Hollywood history. Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry, a Freddie Bartholomew vehicle sadly missing its intended star, saw the first team up of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. Though both played supporting parts, their onscreen chemistry is clear. These kids were a hit!

The Movie: Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry (MGM 1937)
The Songwriter: Arthur Freed (music and lyrics)
The Players: Ronald Sinclair, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, directed by Alfred E. Green

The Story: This bizarre little musical number perfectly encapsulates what would become the Mickey and Judy dynamic. Mickey is busy working at a project – in this case, trying to take Ronald Sinclair’s pants off (just in case you needed your daily dose of unintended homoerotic subtext). Meanwhile, Judy flits and flirts in and out of the scene, trying to get Mickey’s attention through accolades, through annoyance, through anything so long as it makes him notice her. She dances around him, he gives her a swat – it’s schoolyard flirting with song and dance. This formula would define the two child actors together until long after they had put away childish things. But for the moment, it’s dimples, music, and fun.

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Reader Comments (14)

Each Wednesday morning I know I'm going to start the day smiling thanks to this series. This scene is so ridiculous and funny.

February 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Her rich voice belies that sweet young face--seems so other-worldly. What the hell is going on with those boys?

February 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPam

As great as Judy's singing is, this clip is all about the pants and the butt massage (?!?!).

Also, I don't know if this is verified or if I came across it somewhere disreputable/gossip-mongering, but I read somewhere that Rooney was asked about MGM hyping kids up on amphetamines in regards to rumors that it contributed to Judy's addiction, and he not only flatly denied it but said "she chose that life." Now, judging by this clip alone, it wouldn't seem out of the box to imagine that Judy, tasked with hopping, skipping, and (most importantly) singing, might be encouraged to have "help." That said, even if Rooney was correct that MGM never gave them (or her) anything, what a low level of contempt to suggest that someone who died of drug-related complications after a lifelong struggle with substance abuse "chose" the life. Again, not sure if that is rumor or hearsay (not unlike the "fat one" legend you so wisely left open for interpretation before) but it does make me want to search for clues in these clips, ( especially after your reports that him being annoyed by her was a key to their chemistry!)

February 3, 2016 | Unregistered Commentercatbaskets

Rooney was one of those Hollywood "storytellers" who would say just about anything for attention or publicity, like Shelley Winters, Tony Curtis, and Zsa Zsa Gabor. Often, they contradicted themselves!

February 3, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterrick gould

It's been years since I've seen this one and I can't remember why Mickey was so insistent on depantsing Ronald Sinclair. I sure within the context of the story it makes perfect innocent sense but isolated in this clip it reads quite differently!

It's a cute song in a minor musical, the thing I remember most about it is that Judy's character is named Cricket. But like all her Metro films it has many enjoyable parts, the chemistry between Judy & Mickey the biggest of them.

catbaskets-I wouldn't take that statement from Rooney too seriously. It's pretty well known that one of the duties of the MGM doctor and most studio doctors of the time was to keep the talent going. That was often achieved with various pharmaceuticals which were little understood at the time but seen as wonder drugs since they were too new for the dangers to be understood. I've read many times that Rooney, insecure and always desperate to please and be liked, would say what he thought the reporters wanted to hear and then turn around and contradict himself in the next minute. MGM surely didn't intend to turn Judy into an addict but be that as it may they did play a heavy part in her becoming a habitual user and by the time real problems started to show, when she was on the cusp of her twenties, the die was cast and they struggled to deal with the situation they had created.

February 3, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

This would not be the last incident of one boy pulling off another one's pants while Judy was singing in the background. Just sayin'.

I remember Rooney (late in life) being in denial about MGM pushing young Judy (or anyone else) to (ab)use prescription drugs. I found that disappointing. But I don't recall the quote about her choosing "that life."

February 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw


This would not be the last incident of one boy pulling off another one's pants while Judy was singing in the background. Just sayin'.


February 3, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nat: Judy, always an inspiration. ;-)

February 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

On Wednesday I just play the Judy Garland clip of the week and sit back in wonder.
Naturally I was a little surprised at Mickey Rooney's wrestling match, which was intriguing to say the least. ? (innocent - if you say so Joel6 ;)

But soon my attention went back to watching Judy sell that song. I love seeing her practically burst out of herself over a new pair of shoes. It's a very funny clip, and her voice is so full of happiness.
I know there was tragedy behind the scenes but I just want to feel the happiness such talent gives me. Thanks again Anne Marie. Another great choice.

February 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

Paul - I laughed so loud I startled the person sitting next to me.

catbaskets, joel6, rick, etc - Like you say, it's hard to take Mickey at his word because his word changed so often. There are so many contradictory narratives about MGM's treatment of Judy that about all we can say definitely is whatever they did with her, it wasn't in the interest of her health. Heartbreaking, but it makes happy moments like these all the more powerful.

February 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

What I find so curious about this movie is that Sophie Tucker played Judy’s aunt….and Sophie doesn’t sing! What a waste……………

February 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie19

I'm not going to lie, that's probably the most appealing I have ever found Mickey Rooney to be. But really Mickey, no means no. :-)

And poor clueless Judy, clearly those boys don't give two effs for your new shoes.

February 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Hollywood

One place where Rooney's comment about Judy "choosing that life" appears is in the documentary MGM: THE LION ROARS, which contains interviews from many MGM stars of the time. It's not an exact quote, but I think Mickey says something like: "Judy Garland was never given drugs by MGM.. Mr. Mayer never sanctioned it. Nobody on that lot was responsible for what happened to Judy Garland. Judy chose that path."

February 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMark

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