A Force of Nature
By now you all know that Mickey Rooney is dead. I direct your attention to this fine obit in the N. Y. Times.
In the early 70s I saw him in a production of the English farce See How they Run at the Westport Country Playhouse. He was in his 50s, playing a young English flyer. If the casting wasn’t ideal, Mr Rooney fixed that problem by ignoring the play. He clearly didn’t know the lines or blocking; the rest of the cast, huddled on the opposite side of the stage, just as clearly hated him; but I remember it as being one of the funniest evenings I’ve ever spent in a theatre. By the end he was soaked in sweat, the buttons had popped on his shirt, his pants had split and the audience had laughed itself silly. I saw him again in Sugar Babies, three times, and if the show was past its first flush of youth and there were some episodes of planned corpseing, he was blissfully, outrageously low.
A giant talent seen in his youth when the world was young in this clip from Words and Music. He’s playing — ahem — Larry Hart. Tom Drake is Richard Rogers. Janet Leigh as Dorothy Rogers seems to be entirely shot from behind. They look like children playing at being grown-ups. And if we haven’t seen National Velvet I recommend it.