"I never realized what a bundle of energy a youthful Mickey Rooney was. He completely steals the show as musical theatre composer Larry Hart (the other half of Rodgers and Hart). Mr. Rooney brings such exuberance to his role that you actually feel sorry for what his character becomes by the end of the film.Granted, this is a somewhat fictionalized account of the songwriting partnership of Rodgers and Hart, the film contains many a classic tune and musical number performed by many of the greatest MGM stars, including June Allyson, Perry Como, Lena Horne, Gene Kelly, Ann Sothern, Cyd Charisse, Vera-Ellen, and Judy Garland, all making cameo appearences.Not to be completely outdone by Mr. Rooney, equally impressive are Tom Drake as Richard Rodgers, who was the "solid" one of the partnership, Janet Leigh as Dorothy Rodgers, and Betty Garrett as a girlfriend of Hart.Anyone who appreciates the pomp and circumstance that MGM put into their musical films will find this film a treat for the senses."
Musical Moments Compensate For Weak, Inaccuate Story
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 08/12/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer"
An MGM Classic Musical
Susan Fong | Las Vegas, NV USA | 06/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This dramatized biography of Rodgers and Hart is given the glossy MGM treatment, but is none the worse for it. Rodgers and Hart's music is timeless. There are many great performers in this movie such as Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Gene Kelly, etc. This movie is not a masterpiece, but the music is superb and that elevates the entire movie. Pleasant viewing."
A wonderful musical entertainment
pcork98 | Tasmania, Australia | 10/19/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of my favourite musicals. I first saw it in black and white on TV in Melbourne, and loved it, and then bought the MGM Soundtrack on MGM Disc in the 60's, which then was re-released in the 1970's on Polygram.Forget the plot, it is the musical numbers that are so fresh and exciting even today.
I love Ann Sothern's "Where's That Rainbow" and June Allyson's "Thou Swell", and all the musical numbers.
I loved Garland(even though she appeared frail and unwell). Perry Como with Cyd Charisase "Blue Room" was heaven, and Mountain Greenery with Perry Como. Lena Horne sings the definitive "Lady is a Tramp" and "Where or When" and most underrated Betty Garrett, sings a delightful "Small Hotel". This was musical talent at it's greatest, and to include the "Slaughter Ballet", "On Your Toes Ballet" etc, it is breathtaking. Forget the plot, although Mickey Rooney is a live-wire, and Tom Drake effective as a dull Rodgers, and Janet Leigh as the nice wife.
A must see. The best Composers and the wonderful MGM stars and class."
Excelllent with glorious songs.
Gary F. Taylor | 06/29/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have this movie on video and I think that it is a wonderful movie especially the songs. I think that Rodgers and Hart did wonderfully with the songs that they wrote and Tom Drake and Mickey Rooney were wonderful in their parts. The songs are excellent especially Judy Garland's, Lena Horne's and June Allyson. Overall a MUST-SEE movie."