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Words and Music (1948)

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



(story), (adaptation), 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Perry Como ...
Tom Drake ...


Encomium to Larry Hart (1895-1943), seen through the fictive eyes of his song-writing partner, Richard Rodgers (1902-1979): from their first meeting, through lean years and their breakthrough, to their successes on Broadway, London, and Hollywood. We see the fruits of Hart and Rodgers' collaboration - elaborately staged numbers from their plays, characters' visits to night clubs, and impromptu performances at parties. We also see Larry's scattered approach to life, his failed love with Peggy McNeil, his unhappiness, and Richard's successful wooing of Dorothy Feiner. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


M*G*M presents a spectacular musical, packed with the beloved hits of the famed song-writing team of Rodgers and Hart; their own story, with all the adventure, romance, high life of the Great White Way. See more »


See all certifications »




Release Date:

31 December 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ena tragoudi, mia zoi  »

Box Office


$2,799,970 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The song "I Wish I Were In Love Again" was the last time Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney appeared on screen together. See more »


After he is rejected by Joyce Harmon, Richard Rodgers attends a showing of Camille. This event is shown as taking place prior to the Broadway premiere of _A Connecticut Yankee_, even though the film was released in 1936 and the premiere of _A Connecticut Yankee_ took place in 1927. The clip from "Camille" is shown as if the picture were a silent film, when in fact "Camille" was (and is) one of Garbo's most celebrated talking pictures. See more »


Peggy Lorgan McNeil: I don't think I quite understand.
Lorenz Hart: You will after you've known me ten or fifteen years.
See more »


Edited into American Masters: Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer (2002) See more »


The Lady Is a Tramp
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
From the musical "Babes in Arms" (1937)
Performed by Lena Horne
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Musical Moments Salvage Weak, Inaccurate Story and Dialogue
13 August 2005 | by (Biloxi, Mississippi) – See all my reviews

To describe the 1948 WORDS AND MUSIC as a "whitewashed" version of the famous song-writing team Rogers and Hart is a gross understatement. Lorenz Hart (1895-1943) was a homosexual in an era when such was flatly unacceptable; the pressures of the closet drove him into a wildly self-destructive alcoholism that ultimately killed him. Richard Rogers (1902-1979)was Hart's polar opposite, a highly disciplined individual who had zero tolerance for Hart's extremes. Their friendship and working relation was stormy, to say the least.

Needless to say, there was no way on earth that 1940s Hollywood could approach these facts. What we get instead is the story of the brilliant but glitchy Hart (Mickey Rooney) who is disappointed in love by singer Peggy McNeil (Betty Garrett), never gets over it, and falls apart as Rogers (Tom Drake) and his wife Dorothy (Janet Leigh) look on in dismay. It's pretty much a lot of pap, but fortunately for all concerned the movie gives us a lot of music along the way.

Most of the music is the form of cameos by a wash of MGM's musical stars. Perry Como has unexpected screen presence; Lena Horne, saddled with the excessive gesticulation and odd costumes typically inflicted upon her during her Hollywood years, still manages to give truly memorable performances of "Where or When" and "The Lady Is A Tramp;" June Allyson does a charming "Thou Swell;" Gene Kelly and Vera-Ellen offer a memorable version of the jazz ballet "Slaughter on 10th Avenue." Other notables include Anne Southern, Cyd Charisse, and Mel Torme.

The big noise among the cameos is Judy Garland, who was battling MGM over withheld salary at the time and finally agreed to do two numbers to even out what the studio said she owed them. The result would be the final pairing of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in a motion picture, the two performing a charming duet of "I Wish I Were In Love Again," with Rooney clearly trying to break Garland up--and often succeeding. It's tremendous fun and followed by Garland's hard-belting and equally enjoyable "Johnny One Note."

Cameos aside, the primary cast is quite good with Rooney a stand out as Hart; one wonders at what performance he might have given if the script had been a no-holds-barred account. Granted, WORDS AND MUSIC is the sort film you watch for the musical moments rather than the plot--but when all is said and done it does what it does extremely well. Recommended, but primarily for musical fans.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer

33 of 37 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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