|Three Little Words|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Richard Thorpe|
|Produced by||Jack Cummings|
|Written by||George Wells|
|Starring|| Fred Astaire |
|Music by|| André Previn |
|Edited by||Ben Lewis|
Three Little Words is a 1950 American musical film biography of the Tin Pan Alley songwriting partnership of Kalmar and Ruby. It stars Fred Astaire as lyricist Bert Kalmar and Red Skelton as composer Harry Ruby, along with Vera-Ellen and Arlene Dahl as their wives, with Debbie Reynolds in a small but notable role as singer Helen Kane. The film, released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, was written by Academy-Award-winning screenwriter George Wells, directed by Richard Thorpe and produced by Jack Cummings. Harry Ruby served as a consultant on the project, and he appears in a cameo role as a baseball catcher. The third in a series of MGM biopics about Broadway composers, it was preceded by Till the Clouds Roll By (Jerome Kern, 1946) and Words and Music (Rodgers and Hart, 1948) and followed by Deep in My Heart (Sigmund Romberg, 1954).
This warm and engagingfilm was one of Astaire's favorites, possibly because of the nostalgic vaudeville connection. As Hollywood film biographies of the period go, it takes fewer liberties with the facts than usual, and Astaire and Skelton's onscreen portrayal of the partnership is considered psychologically accurate, ,complemented by a mutual chemistry, some quality acting by both, and some fine comedy touches by Skelton. Unusually for Hollywood songwriting biographies of this period, two of the songs, "Thinking of You" and "Nevertheless", became major hits on the film's release, reaching first and second place respectively, in the U.S. charts.
In recognition of his acting performance, Fred Astaire was awarded the first Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy in 1951.
This film provides an object lesson in how to integrate the many songs and dances seamlessly and naturally into the script - a principle first introduced into the Hollywood musical by Astaire as far back as 1934. Astaire's choreography takes the opportunity provided by Vera-Ellen's technical prowessto showcase dance routines notable for leg kicks, lifts and - Astaire's innovative combination of the two - the hurdling lift, first invented for "The Yam" number in Carefree (1938). These routines are contrasted with some choreographically primitive numbers typical of vaudeville c. 1920. The spirit of the partnered dances expands on the theme of marital contentment previously explored in The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939) and the prior year's The Barkleys of Broadway (1949). Vera-Ellen's singing voice was dubbed by Anita Ellis.
According to MGM records the film earned $3,019,000 in the US and Canada and $1,507,000 elsewhere, resulting in a healthy profit of $1,252,000.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
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