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

Thursday, January 19, 2017


Mickey as Lorenz Hart and Judy as herself
WORDS AND MUSIC (1948). Director: Norman Taurog.

"... strange places with strange people ..."

Richard Rodgers (Tom Drake) and Lorenz Hart (Mickey Rooney) become a highly popular song-writing duo and a theatrical force to be reckoned with. This is a heavily fictionalized biography that completely suppresses Hart's homosexuality and alcoholism, and instead makes the man unlucky in love. The highlights of the film are the musical interludes: Judy Garland, playing herself, singing "I Wish I Were In Love Again" with Mickey; and doing a solo on "Johnny One-Note." Lena Horne scores with "Where or When? " and "The Lady is a Tramp,"  and Mel Torme does "Blue Moon." Then there's the excellent "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" from On Your Toes with Gene Kelly at the top of his game. Rooney is as superb as ever, Drake [Betrayed Women] is fine as Rodgers, and Marshall Thompson plays associate Herbert Fields. Perry Como plays a fictional character in the film, and while his acting isn't bad, his singing style (at that time) apes Bing Crosby shamelessly. Janet Leigh has a nice turn as Rodgers' wife, as does Ann Sothern as Joyce, but the best one can say about Betty Garrett is that she's utterly unexciting. The picture is very handsomely produced, but the narration is unnecessary. To cap it all off we've got "With a Song in My Heart," one of Rodgers most beautiful melodies.

Verdict: Not the real story but colorful and entertaining. ***.


angelman66 said...

Hi Bill - as you note, this is one to fast-forward through the "story" and just enjoy the wonderful, wonderful musical numbers. More stars than there are in heaven, indeed--Gene Kelly, Judy, Lena, Mel Torme...and you are right, this is not one of Miss Betty Garrett's most notable roles--she's great in On the Town though. (I met her once and she was a lovely, warm, vibrant person...)
This is some of the best music ever written....each song essential to the American songbook.

William said...

I couldn't agree more! There's great stuff in this picture despite the nothing script.