Words and Music product details page

Words and Music

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Hollywood biopics have justifiably been criticized for playing fast and loose with the facts, especially when dealing with composers and lyricists. Words and Music is an extreme example of this, the historical accuracy of which is practically nil. This wouldn't have really mattered had the resulting screenplay been more palatable, blessed with more interesting characters, or possessed of witty and sparkling repartee. Unfortunately, it's a clichéd story with lines the viewer can finish before they're out of the characters' mouths. Matters aren't helped by the leads; Tom Drake is dull and Mickey Rooney annoying. What saves the film are the songs and their performers. Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart wrote some of the finest songs of their day, each imbued with Rodgers' incredible melodic facility and Hart's astounding wordplay, and most of the interpreters present do them full justice. Judy Garland and Lena Horne win highest marks, with a vigorous "Johnny One Note" and a blazing "The Lady Is a Tramp," respectively. "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" is truncated somewhat, but danced brilliantly by Gene Kelly and, cast surprisingly well against type, Vera Ellen. Even June Allyson, singing "Thou Swell," turns in a superior performance. Production values are high, as expected of an MGM musical of the period, and the vocal arrangements are a lot of fun. Words and Music would be followed the next year by Night and Day, a film about Cole Porter that was also largely fictionalized. Craig Butler, All Movie Guide

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