Three Little Words (1950)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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MGM's Three Little Words is a "twin" musical biopic, covering the lives and careers of songwriters Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby. Fred Astaire plays Kalmar, a frustrated magician, while Red Skelton is cast as Ruby, a wannabe baseball player. After "meeting cute" during a disastrous vaudeville show, the oil-and-water Bert and Harry become a popular songwriting team, dashing off such favorites as Who's Sorry Now?, Nevertheless, So Long Oo-Long, I Wanna be Loved by You, All Alone Monday and the title song (the film unfortunately skimps on Kalmar and Ruby's Gilbert-and-Sullivan style novelty ditties, with the exception of Hooray for Captain Spaulding, Groucho Marx' signature tune in Animal Crackers). Adhering more to MGM formula than the facts, the script contrives to have Kalmar and Ruby split up over a trivial misunderstanding, only to be reunited by their wives for an "all is forgiven" radio broadcast hosted by bandleader Phil Regan. Vera-Ellen co-stars as Kalmar's vaudevillian wife Jessie Brown, while Arlene Dahl portrays Ruby's movie-star spouse Eileen Percy. Gloria DeHaven is seen as her own mother, Mrs. Carter DeHaven; and Debbie Reynolds plays "boop-a-doop" girl Helen Kane, her singing voice dubbed in by Ms. Kane herself. Though not quite as humorous as the subject matter would seem to dictate (Red Skelton gets his biggest laughs in the scenes wherein he, as Harry Ruby, participates in spring training with his favorite baseball club) Three Little Words is an excellent example of MGM's musical unit at the height of its powers.
Comedy , Drama , Musical & Performing Arts
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Debbie Reynolds
as Helen Kane
Fred Astaire
as Bert Kalmar
Keenan Wynn
as Charlie Kope
as Jessie Brown / Jessie Kalmar
Red Skelton
as Harry Ruby
Beverly Michaels
as Francesca Ladovan
William Tannen
as Director
Gale Robbins
as Terry Lordel
Harry Shannon
as Clanahan
Arlene Dahl
as Eileen Percy Ruby
Paul Harvey
as Al Masters
Pierre Watkin
as Philip Goodman
Donald Kerr
as Stage Manager
Phil Regan
as Himself
Pat Williams
as Assistant
Alex Gerry
as Marty Collister
Syd Saylor
as Barker
Gloria de Haven
as Mrs. Carter DeHaven
Fred Santley
as Juice Vendor
Harry Barris
as Guest Piano Player
George Sherwood
as Director
Harry Ruby
as Baseball Player
Helen Kane
as Singing Voice of Debbie Reynolds
Harry Mendoza
as Mendoza the Great
John R. McKee
as Baseball Player
Sid Saylor
as Barker
Sherry Hall
as Pianist
George Magrill
as Piano Mover
Harry Cody
as Prop Man
Bert Davidson
as Director
Sig Frohlich
as Messenger
Mickey Martin
as Callboy
Harry B. Mendoza
as Mendoza the Great
Elzie Emanuel
as Black Boy
Anita Ellis
as Singing Voice of Vera-Ellen
Fred Millican
as Baseball Player
George Metkovich
as Al Schacht
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Critic Reviews for Three Little Words

All Critics (2)

A pleasingly gentle and sanitized musical biopic.

Full Review… | January 17, 2007
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

As always, Astaire's dancing redeems the routine.

July 21, 2006
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Audience Reviews for Three Little Words

Colorful MGM biopic loosely based on the lives of songwriters Kalmar and Ruby; highlights include Astaire & Vera-Ellen dancing to "Thinking of You," Debbie Reynolds singing "I Wanna Be Loved By You" (voice dubbed by Helen Kane), and Arlene Dahl, strikingly lovely in Technicolor and singing "I Love You So Much."

Michael Troudt
Michael Troudt

Routine musical, at least as routine as it can be with talents like Astaire and Vera-Ellen in it, they're well matched and when they dance the picture lives and it is beautifully shot but it just doesn't have that zip that the best MGM musicals do.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer


such a great movie musical! Fred Astaire and Red Skelton are such a great duo on the screen. Debbie Reynolds was hillarious; even in just that one song. Really funny moments and great songs and dances.

Julie Fontaine
Julie Fontaine

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