Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


THREE LITTLE WORDS (1950). Director: Richard Thorpe.

A perfectly pleasant and completely undistinguished biopic about the not terribly distinguished song writing team of Bert Kalmar (Fred Astaire) and Harry Ruby (Red Skelton). The casting pretty much insures that there won't be a heck of a lot of drama in this movie, and there certainly isn't, although the two men spend a lot of time bickering and having misunderstandings [although the humor is not of the laugh-out-loud variety]. Vera-Ellen is Kalmar's spouse and a warmer-than-usual Arlene Dahl is Ruby's better half, Eileen. Gloria DeHaven, Keenan Wynn, Debbie Reynolds and Carleton Carpenter have smaller roles (walk-ons in the case of the last two). Gale Robbins is sexsational as Terry, the singer that Ruby initially falls for. Astaire's fans will enjoy his smooth and fancy foot work. As for the songs, well ... they're pleasant enough, tuneful, but Kalmar and Ruby were not exactly Rodgers and Hammerstein or Rodgers and Hart. They spend the whole movie trying to make a song out of a tune Ruby keeps playing and when they finally do at the climax it's only the utterly mediocre title number!

Verdict: If you don't expect much ... **1/2.


Anagramsci said...

I agree that this isn't a major musical, but I'll always love it for Vera-Ellen's performance! She was never more winning--outside of a musical number, I mean--than she is in the early scenes of the movies.

William said...

Yes, she was a sweet and pretty performer and you're right that she's very appealing in this picture.

Thanks for your comment.