Words and Music (1998) - Rotten Tomatoes

Words and Music (1998)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

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!
Classics , Comedy , Drama , Musical & Performing Arts
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
MGM Home Entertainment

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Tom Drake
as Richard Rodgers
Mickey Rooney
as Lorenz Hart
June Allyson
as Herself
Cyd Charisse
as Margo Grant
Lena Horne
as Herself
Perry Como
as Eddie Lorrison Anders
Ann Sothern
as Joyce Harmon
Betty Garrett
as Peggy Lorgan McNeil
Janet Leigh
as Dorothy Feiner
Marshall Thompson
as Herbert Fields
Jeanette Nolan
as Mrs. Hart
Richard Quine
as Ben Feiner
Clinton Sundberg
as Shoe Clerk
Harry Antrim
as Dr. Rodgers
Ilka Gruning
as Mrs. Rodgers
Emory Parnell
as Mr. Feiner
Helen Spring
as Mrs. Feiner
Edward Earle
as James Fernby Kelly
Judy Garland
as Guest Star
Ramon Blackburn
as Guest Star
Royce Blackburn
as Guest Star
Gene Kelly
as Guest Star
as Guest Star
Mel Tormé
as Guest Star
Allyn Ann McLerie
as Singer in Garrick Gaeities
John K. Butler
as Bit part
Dee Turnell
as Herself
Sig Frohlich
as Western Union Messenger
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Critic Reviews for Words and Music

All Critics (4)

some good song numbers

May 28, 2005
Classic Film and Television

Appallingly sanitized biopic of Rodgers and Hart.

April 11, 2005
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Audience Reviews for Words and Music


MGM gave the world another Hollywood "biography" of Broadway composers - this time Rodgers & Hart (played by Tom Drake at his blandest and Mickey Rooney at his hammiest); as in most of these productions, it was the songs that mattered, and Metro didn't disappoint: Ann Sothern sings "Where's That Rainbow," June Allyson dances to "Thou Swell," Judy Garland (appearing as herself) solos with "Johnny One Note" and performs "I Wish I Were in Love Again" with Rooney (in their last film appearance together); Lena Horne does beautiful renditions of "Where or When" and "The Lady Is a Tramp," and - last but not least, Gene Kelly and Vera-Ellen do justice the ballet "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue."

Michael Troudt
Michael Troudt

There's some great stuff here, the music of course and the Slaughter on 10th Avenue ballet with Vera-Ellen and Gene Kelly is amazing. Janet Leigh is lovely and impossibly young but is given nothing to do but Drake is bland almost to the point of invisiblity and Rooney is frankly a major hambone here terrible and annoying beyond measure. The songs and dances are five star but the story, most of which is fiction, is one.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer


I didn't really care much about the story... I think the highlight of this film was watching Judy Garland sing "I wish I were in love again" with Mickey Rooney... When Judy Garland appeared it changed the whole tone of the film and she lights up the screen... It was nice seeing her perform with Mickey Rooney again. Even Mickey's character changes to a more "happy place" when you see it with Judy Garland... Then of course Judy sings another number by herself and again she lights up the movie... Another thing I loved was seeing her interact with Tom Drake (her lead male role from meet me in St. Louis) it was awfully nice seeing them together again...

Stefanie Rizzi
Stefanie Rizzi

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