It's been a rough couple nights. Not because my knee was hurting or because I ate too much pizza before bed, but because I sat through 2 extremely disappointing movies. The first of which is "Words And Music" (as you might have guessed), starring Mickey Rooney & Tom Drake. Going into the movie I only knew that it was about Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart (famous songwriting team), and that it starred Mickey Rooney. Then I took a look at the cast & got really excited, because it was packed full of stars that I've enjoyed watching.
After watching the film I couldn't believe how bad it was. Not only was it dull, but it didn't even make sense half the time. Mickey Rooney's character (Lorenz Hart) was annoying as hell, and Tom Drake (Richard Rodgers) had the personality of a cardboard box. After I watched the film I went to IMDB to read up a little about the film & I wasn't shocked to read about all the inaccuracies in the film.
With all the musical numbers in this film I'm tempted to tell you to watch it with your thumb on the fast forward button. However looking back there were only a few numbers that stood out for me so I can't even advise that. How can you make a musical about an interesting topic, with a ton of great stars (June Allyson, Perry Como, Lena Horne, Cyd Charisse, Ann Sothern, Mel Torme & more...), and still totally fuck everything up?
There were a few high points, but they were few & far between. The coolest moment of this movie was when Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland sang "I Wish I Were In Love Again". It's a song from the 1937 Broadway production of "Babes In Arms". Mickey & Judy of course starred in the film version, and this number was not in the film. So not only do you get to see one of the greatest teams in movie musical history get back together, but there's a NEW connection to one of their old films. I couldn't find video on YouTube of this performance...just an audio track.
Betty Garrett & Janet Leigh both have supporting roles in this film. Betty sings a pretty tune, and Janet does a good job of looking pretty. But it just made me want to watch "My Sister Eileen" (1955), and turn this crap off.
One thing I noticed on IMDB was that Dee Turnell (I've never heard of her before) has been in a TON of my favorite movies. For instance: "The Band Wagon", "Singin' In The Rain", "An American In Paris", "Royal Wedding", "Neptune's Daughter", "The Barkleys Of Broadway" & "Easter Parade". I guess someone who has been in all those movies can be forgiven for being in this pile of shit.
Slaughter On Tenth Avenue
If you're a Gene Kelly fan you've probably seen this number, even if you haven't seen this movie. Here Gene dances with the lovely Vera-Ellen in a dramatic routine.
In the film this song is sung by Perry Como...but whenever I hear this song I think of my favorite TV show of all time, "The Dick Van Dyke Show". That show just seems like the perfect time in American history. Anyone who has watched the show knows that nobody throws a party like Rob & Laura Petrie. Since I want to get my mind off the movie...enjoy this clip of Dick Van Dyke & Mary Tyler Moore.
"The innumerable anachronisms include clothes, cars, musical numbers are attributed incorrectly to various productions, an unmentioned 7-year age difference between Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers, Hart's homosexuality is obviously not addressed (conflict seemingly changed to anxiety over his height), strange leaps in time (The Garbo poster from Camille (1936) is shown soon after their 1925 hit revue Garrick Gaieties. One of the main productions depicted is 1927's hit musical comedy "A Connecticut Yankee" that shows up on screen long after the Garbo poster. More oddly, Perry Como's character Eddie Anders incongruently shifts to Perry Como (!) in the last minutes of the film." - IMDB
"Richard Rodgers reportedly disliked every aspect of this film except for the casting of Janet Leigh as his wife." - IMDB
"Judy Garland was scheduled only to sing with Mickey Rooney in this film, and producer Arthur Freed offered her $50,000 (or half of what she owed the studio for medical bills) to do one take. At the first public screening, the fans asked for more of her, so Freed offered her another $50,000 to do a second song. By the time her scenes were filmed, she had paid back the studio but had made nothing." - IMDB
Summer Holiday (1948)
This was the other movie I mentioned at the start of this blog post. It at least made sense throughout the film, but it was rather dull. Mickey Rooney once again played an extremely annoying character. Gloria DeHaven was cute, but forgettable. Walter Huston & Frank Morgan did an alright job with what they were given, but they can't work miracles. Jackie 'Butch' Jenkins, who played the kid brother, did an alright job at getting a chuckle here & there. I'm sorry I can't go into much detail with this film...the first one sucked all the life out of me. The high point of the film is when Mickey Rooney & Gloria DeHaven sing "Afraid To Fall In Love". Fortunately it's near the beginning, so you can quit watching after that number without wasting too much of your time.
PS: If there's more mistakes than usual in this post...it's late, I'm tired...deal with it.