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
Judy Garland was scheduled only to sing with Mickey Rooney in this film, and producer Arthur Freed offered her $50,000 (or half of what she owed the studio for medical bills) to do one take. At the first public screening, the fans asked for more of her, so Freed offered her another $50,000 to do a second song. By the time her scenes were filmed, she had paid back the studio but had made nothing. See more »
The party at which Lorenz Hart meets Peggy Lorgan McNeil takes place during the 1920s, yet the women at the party all are wearing dresses and hairstyles from the 1940s. See more »
I just saw it on TCM, and a fresh viewing of it gives rise to so many ironies regarding the real Lorenz Hart. Many critics have attacked the film because it so clearly ignores the facts. But what mainstream film do *you* know from 1948 that features an openly gay protagonist? When the studio is sweetness-and-light MGM you simply have to buy the premise and move on. (Note through all of Mickey Rooney's pursuit of Betty Garrett, she keeps alluding to 'something' about him that keeps her from marrying him. Foreshadowing?) Rooney, to his credit, seems to go for pathos in his performance but just overacts the role, and winds up making Hart into some kind of wind-up toy about to explode. Later in the film when he's wallowing in loneliness (punctuated in the party sequence with the song "Blue Moon"), the drama is much better. But more than anything else, there are the exhibits of the glorious songs: "Manhattan," "Thou Swell," "Small Hotel," "With A Song In My Heart," a double-bill of Judy Garland alone and with Rooney (the song "I Wish I Were In Love Again" is a standout); "Where Or When" and "The Lady Is A Tramp" given the chanteuse treatment by Lena Horne; "Blue Room" sung by Perry Como and danced (or, more accurately, spun like a top) by hostess Cyd Charisse; and the sexy "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" finale with Gene Kelly and Vera-Ellen. Entertainment at its classiest, nothing more or less.
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