Meet the People


1h 40m 1944
Meet the People

Brief Synopsis

A fading stage star tries to revive her career by taking a job in a shipyard.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Musical
Release Date
Jan 1944
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 1 Jun 1944; New York opening: 7 Sep 1944
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Meet the People by Sol and Ben Barzman and Louis Lantz (New York, 20 Dec 1940).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,017ft (10 reels)

Synopsis

As soon as he sees Broadway star Julie Hampton addressing a crowd of Morganville, Delaware shipyard workers during a war bond drive, welder William "Swanee" Swanson falls in love. To meet Julie, who has offered a date to the man who sells the most bonds, Swanee claims to have $7,500 in pledges. Then, to further his own case, Swanee surprises Julie by announcing that she will kiss every man who makes a pledge to him. After hordes of shipyard workers rush to the stage for a kiss from Julie, Swanee wins the contest. For their date, Swanee drives Julie in his rundown car to Inspiration Point. While romancing Julie, Swanee reveals that he is a playwright and has written a working man's musical, Meet the People , with his cousin John, a composer and fighting Marine. Swanee performs the musical's love song for Julie, who is impressed enough to show the play to her producer, Monte Rowland. Monte agrees to stage the musical on condition that costumes and sets from his previous show be used. When Swanee travels to New York to see a dress rehearsal, he is dismayed to discover that Monte and Julie have turned his "everyman" show into a glitzy extravaganza. Disgusted, Swanee declares that, as per his contract, the show must be restaged to his specifications or be canceled. Sure that he can pressure Swanee into changing his mind, Monte cancels the show himself and releases Swanee from his contract. Instead of capitulating, however, Swanee accuses Julie of gross self-promotion and returns to Morganville. Determined to reclaim Meet the People , Julie follows Swanee to Morganville and gets a job as a shipyard welder. To her surprise, Julie enjoys her new assignment and quickly makes friends with her starstruck co-workers. While picnicking with Swanee one Sunday, Julie confesses why she came to Morganville, but adds that she now wants to mount Swanee's show so that her needy chorus girl friends will have work. Impressed with Julie's apparent reformation, Swanee resigns with Monte. When he sees Julie posing for publicity photographs in her welding uniform, however, he once again denounces her as a self-serving egotist. Just then, Julie learns that all war jobs have been frozen and that she must remain indefinitely at the shipyard. After she broadcasts a pep talk to her fellow workers, a vengeful Julie tricks Swanee into revealing his true feelings for her while her microphone is still on. Laughed at by his peers, Swanee again accuses Julie of being a selfish hypocrite and storms away. Later, Swanee's uncle Felix confesses that he told John, who is soon returning to Morganville on a medical leave, that Meet the People was a Broadway hit. To help out his uncle, Swanee offers to produce the show as part of the shipyard's upcoming 300th ship celebration. Julie, however, has decided to stage her own star-studded show and refuses to consider doing Meet the People . When John, who has been told by Felix that Julie is doing the show, arrives in her shipyard office to thank her, she sadly tells him the truth. Later, however, she changes her mind and announces she is having an open casting call for Meet the People . Swanee, who for days has been searching for the owner of the shipyard in order to convince him to back Meet the People , returns to town, unaware that his musical is about to open. After a lonely Julie admits to herself that she loves Swanee despite their disagreements, she and Swanee happily reunite on stage for the show's patriotic finale.

Cast

Lucille Ball

Julie Hampton

Dick Powell

Wm. "Swanee" Swanson

Virginia O'brien

"Woodpecker" Peg

Bert Lahr

The commander

"rags" Ragland

Mr. ["Smitty"] Smith

June Allyson

Annie

Steve Geray

Uncle Felix [Swanson]

Paul Regan

"Buck"

Howard Freeman

Mr. Peetwick

Betty Jaynes

Steffi

John Craven

John Swanson

Morris Ankrum

Monte Rowland

Miriam Lavelle

Miriam

Ziggie Talent

Ziggie [Talent]

Mata And Hari

Oriental dancers

Vaughn Monroe

Spike Jones

Bobbie Canvin

Singer in "I'd Like to Recognize the Tune" and "Smart to Be People" numbers

Thora Mathiason

Singer in "Shicklegruber" number

Jean Forward

Singer in "Shicklegruber" number

Tudor Williams

Singer in "Shicklegruber" number

Gene Ramey

Specialty act in "Heave Ho" number

Harry Stanton

Specialty act in "Heave Ho" number

Virginia Rees

Solo singer in "It's Smart to Be People" number

Clifford Holland

Solo singer in "It's Smart to Be People" number

Henry Kruse

Solo singer in "It's Smart to Be People" number

Kay Medford

Mrs. Smith

Joey Ray

Dance director

Dell Henderson

Stage manager

The King Sisters

Themselves

Thelma Joel

Girl

Barbara Bedford

Girl

Mary Ganley

Girl

Katharine Booth

Girl

Mary Mcleod

Girl

Joe Yule

Shorty

Patsy Moran

Homely girl

Roger Moore

Chauffeur

Celia Travers

Secretary

Robert E. O'connor

Attendant

Fred "snowflake" Toones

Pullman porter

Dick Elliott

Salesman

John Bagni

Tough workman

Hugh Maguire

Boy

Donald Davis

Boy

Bobby Blake

Jimmy, age 7

Dickie Hall

Billy, age 5

Russell Gleason

Bill

Al Hill

Photographer

Buddy Gorman

Youth

George Magrill

Welder

George Lloyd

Heckler

James Warren

Marine

Fred Beckner

Marine

Myron Healey

Marine

Eddie Hall

Marine

Michael Owen

Marine

Gloria Grafton

Brittle secretary

Creighton Hale

Hotel clerk

Hooper Atchley

Policeman

Frank Hagney

Gateman

William Tannen

Mr. Quinn

Dorothy Ford

Tall girl

Lee Phelps

Workman

Capt. Somers

Workman

Sam Ash

Workman

Al Ferguson

Workman

John Berkes

Workman

Kay Deslys

Landlady

Lucille Casey

Show girl

Natalie Draper

Show girl

Alice Eyland

Show girl

Noreen Roth

Show girl

Linda Deane

Show girl

Hazel Brooks

Show girl

Eve Whitney

Show girl

Erin O'kelly

Show girl

Peggy Maley

Show girl

Kay Williams

Show girl

Florence Lundeen

Show girl

Leon Belasco

Dress designer

Frederick Giermann

Hitler voice

Larry Steers

Shipyard executive

Jack Deery

Shipyard executive

Wyndham Standing

Shipyard executive

Harry Adams

Shipyard executive

Earl Schenck

Shipyard stage manager

Pat West

Myrtle Ferguson

Patt Hyatt

Photo Collections

Meet the People - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from MGM's Meet the People (1944), starring Lucille Ball and Dick Powell. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Musical
Release Date
Jan 1944
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 1 Jun 1944; New York opening: 7 Sep 1944
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Meet the People by Sol and Ben Barzman and Louis Lantz (New York, 20 Dec 1940).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,017ft (10 reels)

Articles

Meet the People


Just one of the many musical offerings from MGM in 1944, Meet the People featured a number of people that the public wanted to meet, including talented ingenue Lucille Ball who was rapidly becoming famous for her beauty and charm, long before she won acclaim for her talents as a comedienne on American television. The lead actor was the popular Depression-era song and dance man Dick Powell. Having starred in several streetwise musicals for Warner Brothers, such as 42nd Street (1933) and Footlight Parade(1933), Powell was perfect as the blue collar working man and playwright who insists that the star of his musical show gets to know Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public.

The American people got to meet a whole new side to Dick Powell in 1944, one that meshed perfectly with the new filmmaking style known as film noir. Powell's other two 1944 offerings, Murder, My Sweet and Cornered, proved without a doubt that he had indeed transformed from a crooner into a tough guy who wasn't afraid to fight dirty. Audiences loved the new Dick Powell, but they still accepted him in musicals.

Director Charles Reisner started in the film business during the First World War as a screenwriter and comedy performer, working for movie studios such as Keystone, Vitagraph, and others. He was the associate director for Charlie Chaplin's A Dog's Life (1918), The Kid (1921), The Pilgrim (1923), and The Gold Rush (1925), playing nasty villains in the first three. He also appeared as an actor in a number of silent features in the 1920's. A director from the mid-1920s on, he specialized in comedy, working with Buster Keaton, W.C. Fields, Marie Dressler, the Marx Brothers, and Abbott & Costello. In 1928, Reisner co-directed Steamboat Bill, Jr. with Keaton.

The producer for Meet the People was E.Y. "Yip" Harburg, a former owner of an electrical appliance business before turning to writing songs and librettos for stage and film during Hollywood's talkie boom in 1929. Working in collaboration with such composers as Vernon Duke, Arthur Schwartz, Jerome Kern, and Harold Arlen, Harburg wrote lyrics to "I'm Yours," "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?," "Thrill Me," "It's Only a Paper Moon," "Lydia, the Tattooed Lady," "Old Devil Moon," "If I Only Had a Brain," and "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead." He won an Academy Award for the lyrics to "Over the Rainbow" in 1939 for MGM's The Wizard of Oz.

Director: Charles Reisner
Producer: E.Y. Harburg
Screenplay: Ben Barzman, Sol Barzman (story), S.M. Herzig, Louis Lantz (story), Fred Saidy
Cinematography: Robert Surtees
Editor: Alex Troffey
Music: Lennie Hayton
Cast: Lucille Ball (Julie Hampton), Dick Powell (William "Swanee" Swanson), Virginia O'Brien ('Woodpecker' Peg), Bert Lahr (The Commander), Rags Ragland (Smitty), June Allyson (Annie).
BW-101m.

by Scott McGee
Meet The People

Meet the People

Just one of the many musical offerings from MGM in 1944, Meet the People featured a number of people that the public wanted to meet, including talented ingenue Lucille Ball who was rapidly becoming famous for her beauty and charm, long before she won acclaim for her talents as a comedienne on American television. The lead actor was the popular Depression-era song and dance man Dick Powell. Having starred in several streetwise musicals for Warner Brothers, such as 42nd Street (1933) and Footlight Parade(1933), Powell was perfect as the blue collar working man and playwright who insists that the star of his musical show gets to know Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public. The American people got to meet a whole new side to Dick Powell in 1944, one that meshed perfectly with the new filmmaking style known as film noir. Powell's other two 1944 offerings, Murder, My Sweet and Cornered, proved without a doubt that he had indeed transformed from a crooner into a tough guy who wasn't afraid to fight dirty. Audiences loved the new Dick Powell, but they still accepted him in musicals. Director Charles Reisner started in the film business during the First World War as a screenwriter and comedy performer, working for movie studios such as Keystone, Vitagraph, and others. He was the associate director for Charlie Chaplin's A Dog's Life (1918), The Kid (1921), The Pilgrim (1923), and The Gold Rush (1925), playing nasty villains in the first three. He also appeared as an actor in a number of silent features in the 1920's. A director from the mid-1920s on, he specialized in comedy, working with Buster Keaton, W.C. Fields, Marie Dressler, the Marx Brothers, and Abbott & Costello. In 1928, Reisner co-directed Steamboat Bill, Jr. with Keaton. The producer for Meet the People was E.Y. "Yip" Harburg, a former owner of an electrical appliance business before turning to writing songs and librettos for stage and film during Hollywood's talkie boom in 1929. Working in collaboration with such composers as Vernon Duke, Arthur Schwartz, Jerome Kern, and Harold Arlen, Harburg wrote lyrics to "I'm Yours," "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?," "Thrill Me," "It's Only a Paper Moon," "Lydia, the Tattooed Lady," "Old Devil Moon," "If I Only Had a Brain," and "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead." He won an Academy Award for the lyrics to "Over the Rainbow" in 1939 for MGM's The Wizard of Oz. Director: Charles Reisner Producer: E.Y. Harburg Screenplay: Ben Barzman, Sol Barzman (story), S.M. Herzig, Louis Lantz (story), Fred Saidy Cinematography: Robert Surtees Editor: Alex Troffey Music: Lennie Hayton Cast: Lucille Ball (Julie Hampton), Dick Powell (William "Swanee" Swanson), Virginia O'Brien ('Woodpecker' Peg), Bert Lahr (The Commander), Rags Ragland (Smitty), June Allyson (Annie). BW-101m. by Scott McGee

Quotes

Trivia

In a radio interview, Spike Jones stated that the ape that plays Hitler is the same ape that appears in the Tarzan movies.

Notes

Prior to its New York opening, Louis Lantz and Ben and Sol Barzman's play Meet the People was performed in Los Angeles. In the film, Paul Regan, who plays "Swanee's" friend "Buck," does several impersonations of celebrities, including Cary Grant, Ronald Colman and Henry Morgan. The "Shicklegruber" number features a comic impersonation of Benito Mussolini and a chimpanzee dressed like Adolf Hitler. (Schicklgruber was Hitler's father's real name.) In that number, an excerpt from the sextet from the opera Lucia di Lammermoor, music by Gaetano Donizetti, libretto by Salvatore Cammarano, is performed.
       Hollywood Reporter news items add the following information about the production: In late October 1941, M-G-M hired Francis Wallace to adapt the stage show, then in November 1942, assigned Hugo Butler to work on the screenplay. The contributions of these writers to the completed film has not been confirmed. In addition to writing the play, Ben and Sol Bartzman and Louis Lantz worked on a treatment for the picture. Although Victor Borge, Lena Horne and Nancy Walker were announced as cast members, they did not appear in the completed film. Robert Strickland, Beryl McCutcheon, Billy Engle, Eugene King, Gertrude Bennett, Margaret Bert, Frank Adams, Julian Smith, Sydney Troy, Margaret Adden, Jean Murray, singers Elsa and Eileen Nilsson, Dewey Robinson and Judy Clark were also announced as cast members, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. The following songs were written for the film, but were not used: "In Times Like These" by Sammy Fain and E. Y. Harburg; "Thank You, Columbus" by Burton Lane and Harburg; and "Song of the Bayou" by Rube Bloom. In March 1944, a 16mm version of Meet the People was shown to troops overseas before its U.S. release. June Allyson and Dick Powell, who married in 1945, performed together onscreen for the first time in this film.