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Three Little Words

Fred Astaire , Vera-Ellen , Richard Thorpe    Unrated   VHS Tape
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Three Little Words (1950) was an example of Hollywood's late-'40s/early-'50s interest in the lives of famous songwriters. Fred Astaire plays vaudeville dancer Bert Kalmar, whose act with Jessie Brown (Vera-Ellen) runs aground due to his interest in magic acts and a backstage accident. While in rehab, he meets composer Harry Ruby (Red Skelton), and the two discover a knack for writing Tin Pan Alley songs, then Broadway shows, together. There's some mild conflict in their lives as portrayed in film, but mostly the movie is an excuse to pull out a slew of Kalmar & Ruby songs such as "Who's Sorry Now," "My Sunny Tennessee," "Nevertheless," "I Wanna Be Loved by You," and the title tune. Vera-Ellen is an excellent partner for Astaire, and the relatively restrained Skelton puts in a good performance. Also appearing are Arlene Dahl as a musical actress, Gloria De Haven as her own mother, a young Debbie Reynolds as Boop-a-Doop girl Helen Kane, and the real Harry Ruby as a baseball player playing catch with Skelton, the movie Harry Ruby. Three Little Words isn't one of the great MGM musicals of its era, but it's an entertaining picture, especially for fans of Astaire. --David Horiuchi

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Arlene Dahl IS GREAT, but underused July 19 2004
Format:VHS Tape
This is one of Astaire`s lesser known vehicles, but in my opinion - 1 of his very best. It was his own favorite movie. He is a delight co-starring with Red Skelton(his intense comic style is toned down here) and has a wonderful chemistry with the great dancer Vera-Ellen. The film is full of good songs and memorable supporting players including Gloria DeHaven(as her own mother Mrs Carter DeHaven), Debbie Reynolds(dubbed by Helen Kane) and Carleton Carpenter. Debbie and Carleton was reteamed in the Jane Powell film TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE and indeed stopped the show with "Aba-Daba Honeymoon".
But when the Norwegian actress Arlene Dahl enters the film; she brings the film a step further. Her beauty and charm makes u go wild and her "I Love You So Much"-number good and simply staged. Unfortunately her role as Eileen Percy - the silent movie star - is a minor 1, but she glows every time she`s in front of the camera.
Miss Dahl has visited her homeland many times and has done wonders for the Norwegian community in the States. She is also the mother of Lorenzo Lamas of Falcon Crest and Renegade fame.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Less is always more. Oct. 23 2002
Format:VHS Tape
After seeing all the overstuffed bio-musicals which are paying homage to Kern, Rodgers, Hart, Gershwin, and the like, this one is a breath of fresh air because it is much simpler and more basic in its construction. Its two main leads (Fred Astaire and Red Skelton) do not take the material over-the-top; instead they underplay, and in Skelton's case, he is so subdued that he reveals a wonderful, sensitive, acting talent. The musical numbers, of course ("So Long Oolong," "I Wanna Be Loved By You," "Three Little Words"), speak for themselves. And Astaire and Vera-Ellen are sublime in the shipboard dance of "Thinking of You," as they dance around and over pieces of furniture in a stateroom large enough to accomodate a piano. Arlene Dahl and Gloria DeHaven are fine as well. And, of course, you have a pre-'Singin' In The Rain' Debbie Reynolds performing as the 'boop-boop-a-doop' girl Helen Kane- with voice provided by Kane herself!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another fine Fred Astaire film...! Jan. 10 2004
Format:VHS Tape
A brisk, enjoyable Fred Astaire flick, which features Fred and Red Skelton as the prolific Depression-era songwriting team of Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, who wrote standards such as "Whose Sorry Now," "Nevertheless," and "I Wanna Be Loved By You," known for its "boop-oop-a-doop" refrain, sung by squeeky-voiced Helen Kane. Astaire and Skelton play things pretty low-key in this straightforward potboiler; Skelton is particularly likeable with his big-lug interpretation of Ruby's personality and Astaire... Well, he's just Astaire, which is to say he's great -- wish maybe he'd danced a bit more in this one. The music is nice too, especially when they sing as a duet; the movie's only downside is the drab female leads, Arlene Dahl and Vera-Ellen, both of whom are a bit dull, and don't sing that well. All in all, though, an entertaining, pleasantly nostalgic film, well worth checking out.
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Format:VHS Tape
This is one of the most satisfying musicals I've ever seen. It's got a great true-life (well, most of it) story, great actors, great routines, great performances, and of course, GREAT songs. It's a film about the personal lives and professional collaboration between Bert Kalmar (Astaire) and Harry Ruby (Skelton), two great songwriters during the Tin Pan Alley days. It follows their climb to success, both in the professional arena and in their own personal relationships. It's great, I tell ya. The songs will stay with you and you'll find yourself humming the tunes while driving around town or just belting out their hit songs in the shower. Buy it, rent it, steal it from your neighbor's video cabinet, but all I want to know is where can I get my paws on that awesome soundtrack? Come on, MGM, let's get with it!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Arlene Dahl: five stars; the rest: two at best July 8 2002
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
There are about five minutes of sublimity in this movie when Arlene Dahl, in all her flame-haired glory, sings "I Love You So Much"; clearly the producers knew they had something pretty special here, because they keep this sequence perfectly simple, giving Dahl only a fan of black ostrich feathers as a prop and a group of tuxedoed chorus boys to back her up and sing counterpoint. The rest of the movie is pretty forgettable, even despite the presence of Fred Astaire and Vera-Ellen (neither of whom is at their best here). Astaire and Red Skelton play the songwriting team of Harry Ruby and Bert Kalmar (not the most thrilling of musical duos). What makes things perversely fascinating is that Skelton plays Ruby as if he were exceptionally thick-headed (how did he ever manage to compose all those melodies?).
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4.0 out of 5 stars Three Little Words - - Four Big Stars!! Aug. 7 2002
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Fred Astaire and Red Skelton play the songwriting team of Harry Ruby and Bert Kalmar in this semiautobiographical film musical. The plot is based on how they met and became a team, broke up over a misunderstanding and became friends again.. etc. Though this film is overshadowed by other fine musicals of the era, it is entertaining nontheless. A good blend of comedic moments with musical and dance numbers enhanced by the teaming of Astaire and Skelton. The film has a great support cast of Keenan Wynn, Arlene Dahl, and the very talented and beautiful Vera Ellen. Also, look for a very young Debbie Reynolds in a musical number singing one of the duo's popular songs. Pure MGM musical... THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT!!
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars It's ok
At least Vera Ellen was a more suitable dancing partner for Fred Astaire. The dancing scenes were nice, but the story silly, as usual.
I. Stegner
Published 3 months ago by I. Stegner
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful!
This is a movie about easy going and happy people. I absolutely love it! The timeless songs are beautiful and so wonderfully interpreted! It leaves you with a happy feeling. Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2011 by Goofy
4.0 out of 5 stars 4-stars in a wonderful if seldom seen musical
This is supposed 2 be Fred Astaire`s favorite film and it is easy 2 see how he enjoys himself in the movie. He is quite good with Skelton and Vera-Ellen. Read more
Published on April 11 2004 by Henning Sebastian Jahre
4.0 out of 5 stars Wish there were more dancing!
I absolutly love Fred Astaire, and I also like Vera-Ellen when I first saw her in White Christmas. WHen I found a movie with the two of them I was so excited to see two wonderful... Read more
Published on March 18 2004 by Hermione
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 LITTLE WORDS.. BUY THIS VIDEO!
IT'S A CLASSIC! IT FEATURES A TALENTED AND ENTERTAINING CAST, AS WELL AS GREAT TUNES! YOU WON'T BE DISSAPOINTED AS YOU ENJOY THIS TIMELESS CLASSIC! Read more
Published on Dec 26 2001 by "k4g99"
5.0 out of 5 stars A great and entertaining musical!
I really enjoy this musical, it's wonderful. The dancing is
wonderful,and Fred Astaire and Vera Ellen make a lovely
dance team. Read more
Published on Nov. 18 2001 by Rosella Ann Myles
5.0 out of 5 stars A First Class Musical
This movie was SO good, I watched twice in one night! The movie is a biography of two actual songwriters which is very educational, but Red steals the show with his comedy, (funny... Read more
Published on March 14 2000 by randy carver
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