Like most cinematic biographies of popular songwriters, "Three Little Words" is based on elaboration and repetition of the following scene:
First songwriter: "You know, the catchiest little song has been running through my head. It goes like this. Dum dum dah dah, doo dah doo dum dum, doe dah dah dah dab. I think I'll call it "Squash for Sale."
Second song writer: "The tune's O.K., but you're all off on the lyries. Why not call it "Three Little Words." It would go like this. 'Three Little Words, that's all I long for, is three little words, hum, hum, humm, dee do dah dum."
First songwriter: "Great! Great!"
Both together (after a few more minutes of picking at the piano): "Say, this can't miss."
In this particular movie the composing team portrayed is Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby of Tin Pan Alley fame. The stars are Fred Astaire and Red Skelton. Astaire provides the usual amount of softshoe and tap dancing at which he is still very adept, but Skelton is not as funny as usual. Since there is virtually no plot, your reaction to the film depends upon how well you like the songs and Astaire's dancing. To me, Astaire's light-footed work on the boards and his casual acting and singing make any picture he is in worth seeing.
Vera Ellen does a graceful job as Astaire's dancing partner. The couple performs remarkably in a number called "Two Dancers at Home" in which, among other things, they play football with a baby and fall through a wall.
Probably the chief trouble with this picture is its obvious lack of continuity. It is so loosely strung together that it resembles a vaudeville show much more than a biography. But if you like technicolor vaudeville, you will like the film.