Born Brooklyn-ite Mickey Rooney had a Hollywood career spanning nearly 90 years, and his wide range of roles was a big influence on goody-two-shoe types like Michael J. Fox and more hard-bitten characters such as Mark Wahlberg. Here are nine essential Mickey Rooney Films (Titles in red are available to watch free via FilmOn’s VOD service):
- Manhattan Melodrama (1934) — Mickey plays Clark Gable as a boy. He manages to make it work as he did most things.
- Babes In Arms (1939) — Building off Mickey’s success with Judy Garland in Love Finds Andy Hardy, this is a classic Busby Berkeley musical.
- National Velvet (1944) — Mickey trains Elizabeth Taylor’s Velvet Brown, and also gets a reputation for being good with horses.
- My Outlaw Brother (1951) — Mickey heads out west, kind of a proto-bittersweet Back To The Future III, with great support from Robert Preston (Victor, Victoria), Robert Stack (S.W.A.T., Airplane!) and Wanda Hendryx. Watch it here.
- Bridges At Toko-Ri (1954) — Mickey plays the brawling CPO Mike Forney, a good friend and savior to William Holden’s tragic Korean War pilot Lt. Brubaker.
- It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1961) — Mickey was the last of the original occupants of the four vehicles passed by Jimmy Durante, after Jonathan Winters and Sid Caesar died within the past year. One of the greatest comedies ever made according to the American Film Institute, Criterion just put out a 197-minute director’s cut of Mad World this past January 21st.
- Twenty-Four Hours To Kill (1965) — Mickey plays bad in this exotic, Beirut-set crime thriller in the vein of Topkapi (1964). Watch it here.
- The Black Stallion (1979) — This classic Francis Ford Coppola-produced film features Mickey in perhaps his greatest turn as horse trainer Henry Dailey, expanding on and refining his earlier role in National Velvet.
- Babe: Pig In The City (1998) — Mickey plays a twisted old clown, an underrated performance in George Miller’s underrated sequel to his original 1995 hit.
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