Words and Music (1948)

Before Rodgers and Hammerstein, there was Rodgers and Hart: Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, that is, the popular Depression-era songwriting duo responsible for a bevy of songs now commonly accepted as American cultural currency—”Blue Moon,” “The Lady is a Tramp,” and “My Funny Valentine” included, among many others. Their sometimes prolific, sometimes turbulent partnership is the focus of the 1948 musical comedy, Words and Music, starring Tom Drake as Rodgers and Mickey Rooney as Hart. Though many of their most famous songs embody a kind of wistful, depressive nature, and their partnership ended on uncertainly unhappy terms, this film is highly sanitized depiction, and really uses only the most basic elements of the real-life story. Any weaknesses in the plot, though, are ably enhanced by some fun dance numbers from an exceptional array of guest stars and cameos brought in to celebrate the pair.