Words and Music (1948)

Approved   |    |  Biography, Comedy, Musical


Words and Music (1948) Poster

Fictionalized story of the songwriting partnership of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart.

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6.5/10
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  • Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in Words and Music (1948)
  • Janet Leigh and Tom Drake in Words and Music (1948)
  • Cyd Charisse and Perry Como in Words and Music (1948)
  • Lena Horne in Words and Music (1948)
  • Gene Kelly and Vera-Ellen in Words and Music (1948)
  • Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in Words and Music (1948)

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8 January 2004 | Doylenf
Hollywood bio is salvaged by some nice musical stars...
If you have the patience to sit through one of Mickey Rooney's most frantic and hyperactive performances in which Larry Hart becomes a caricature, you'll be rewarded by some typically stylish MGM musical interludes with stars like Judy Garland, Lena Horne, June Allyson, Gene Kelly and Vera-Ellen. Perry Como and Mel Torme both have a chance to warble a couple of Rodgers & Hart tunes too.

The musical numbers have the glossy MGM touch but the main storyline is diminished by allowing Rooney to chew so much scenery that he ends up resembling a frantic wind-up toy--and he's less than convincing when he attempts the heavier melodramatics of the final scenes. He throws the whole picture off gear and makes us yearn for the music to start so we can see cameo turns by MGM's roster of stars. His only good moment is a song routine with Judy Garland that he does in typical Rooneyesque manner.

By contrast, the restrained and natural performances of Tom Drake (as Richard Rodgers) and Janet Leigh (as the girl who becomes his wife Dorothy) are a welcome relief. Betty Garrett does well to in a supporting role as Rooney's highly fictional girlfriend.

The only musical number which failed to charm me was the routine given Ann Sothern for the Garrick Gaieties number. A weak song with even weaker choreography. All of the other numbers are done in high style, especially Judy Garland's solo on the "Johnny One-Note" song and June Allyson's delightful "Thou Swell". Lena Horne also gets a chance to strut her stuff with "The Lady Is A Tramp".

Fans of MGM musicals will love this one--with reservations, perhaps, about its inaccuracies and Rooney's sledgehammer acting. A more serious attempt to play Hart is sorely needed--preferably with another actor in the part.

Critic Reviews


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