Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The life stories of Broadway tunesmiths Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart are prettified for the screen in MGM's Words and Music. Billed fourth, the colorless Tom Drake plays Rodgers, but never mind that: the film belongs to Mickey Rooney, as the dynamic, self-destructive Lorenz Hart. Understandably, Hart's bisexuality is downplayed. According to MGM, his biggest problem in life is that he was never satisfied with his work. We are, however, especially when those great Rodgers & Hart tunes are performed by the likes of Judy Garland, Janet Leigh, Perry Como, Lena Horne, June Allyson, Cyd Charisse, Betty Garrett, Ann Sothern, Mel Torme, Allyn McLerie, Gene Kelly and Vera-Ellen. The musical highlights include Garland's powerhouse rendition of Johnny One-Note, Kelly's Slaughter on 10th Avenue dance solo, Horne's interpretation of Where or When, Allyson's take on Thou Swell, and, best of all, Rooney's premiere performance of I'll Take Manhattan, which he allegedly had just written on the back of an automobile advertisement!
music, songwriter, self-destruction, alcoholism, dance [art]