Light bio-pic of American Broadway pioneer Jerome Kern, featuring renditions of the famous songs from his musical plays by contemporary stage artists, including a condensed production of ... See full summary »
The Wolves baseball team gets steamed when they find they've been inherited by one K.C. Higgins, a suspected "fathead" who intends to take an active interest in running the team. But K.C. ... See full summary »
Rich kid Danny Churchill (Rooney) has a taste for wine, women and song, but not for higher education. So his father ships him to an all-male college out West where there's not supposed to ... See full summary »
On a train trip West to become a mail order bride Susan Bradley meets a cheery crew of young women traveling out to open a " Harvey House " restaurant at a remote whistle stop to provide ... See full summary »
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Tommy Williams desperately wants to get to Broadway, but as he is only singing in a spaghetti house for tips he is a long way off. He meets Penny Morris, herself no mean singer, and through... See full summary »
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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
Rodgers and Hart had been working on Broadway successfully since 1919 (their first collaborative production, "A Lonely Romeo" ran for an impressive 222 performances). This film, historically speaking, is wildly inaccurate. The innumerable anachronisms include clothes, hairstyles, cars, musical numbers are attributed incorrectly to various productions, an unmentioned 7-year age difference between Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers, Hart's homosexuality is obviously not addressed (conflict seemingly changed to anxiety over his height), strange leaps in time (The 1936 Garbo poster from Camille (1936) is shown soon after their 1925 hit revue Garrick Gaieties--- the film itself is depicted as a silent picture (!). One of the main productions depicted is 1927's hit musical comedy "A Connecticut Yankee" that shows up on screen long after the Garbo poster. Hart's 1930 trip to Hollywood depicts him being reacquainted with Judy Garland who would've been 7-1/2 years old at the time. More oddly, Perry Como's character Eddie Anders incongruently shifts to Perry Como (!) in the last minutes of the film. Although entertaining, the film is so riddled with inaccuracies (even more so than the oft criticized - - but strangely similar - - Night and Day (1946)) that it should be considered completely fictional. See more »
When Judy is singing "Johnny One Note," and gets to the line "... and hear the drum," it is obvious that the snare drummer is not playing what we are hearing. See more »
That was really black Sunday for me. Shut out twice. Once because I was too young, once because I was too old.
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Musical Moments Salvage Weak, Inaccurate Story and Dialogue
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
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