Du Barry Was a Lady


1h 41m 1943
Du Barry Was a Lady

Brief Synopsis

A night club employee dreams he's Louis XV, and the star he idolizes is his lady love.

Photos & Videos

Du Barry Was a Lady - Gene Kelly Rehearsal Photos
Du Barry Was a Lady - Movie Poster
Du Barry Was a Lady - Behind-the-Scenes Photos

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Musical
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1943
Premiere Information
New York opening: 19 Aug 1943
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the musical DuBarry Was a Lady , book by Herbert Fields and B. G. DeSylva, music and lyrics by Cole Porter, as produced by B. G. DeSylva (New York, 6 Dec 1939).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,051ft (9 reels)

Synopsis

Although both coatroom attendant Louis Blore and songwriter and emcee Alec Howe are in love with Club Petite singer May Daly, she claims to be interested only in rich men, such as her devout admirer Willie. After Alec sings her a touching love song he has just written, however, May admits that she loves him, sending him into a joyous frenzy. Alec's happiness is shortlived as, moments later, May tells him that she is still marrying for money to avoid ending up like her poor, broken parents. Alec condemns May's stubborn pragmatism and storms out of her dressing room, aware that she is going out with Willie. To help his friend, fortune-teller Rami the Swami causes Cheezy, a waiter at the nightclub, to dump salad on Willie's head. May sends the drenched Willie home and leaves the club by herself, but is soon joined by the lovestruck Louis. On the way home, Louis fawns over May, but she is too confused about her romantic situation to be flattered by his attentions. Later, at the club, dimwitted telegraph messenger Charlie gives Louis a telegram informing him that he is the winner of the $150,000 Irish sweepstakes. Once over his initial shock, Louis goes on a spending spree and declares to a radio reporter that he is marrying "DuBarry," the character May portrays in her nightclub act. Louis' statement is also reported in the newspapers, and when May sees it, she is surprised and flustered. Alec, too, sees the announcement and challenges May to accept Louis' proposal. To spite Alec, May tells Louis, who has rented the club for the night in order to celebrate his windfall, that she will marry him, but makes sure he understands that she is only interested in his money. When Alec learns about May's engagement, he accuses Louis of being a fool, prompting May to slap him and run off. Charlie, who has taken over Louis' cloak room job, suggests that Louis slip Alec a "mickey" to disable him for a few days. Louis relucantly agrees, but accidentally drinks the drugged cocktail and collapses on the club floor. While he is unconscious, Louis dreams that he is seventeenth century French king Louis XV, and that May is his lover, Mme. Du Barry. Although he is aided in his pursuit of Mme. Du Barry by Charlie, who has been transformed into his son, the Dauphin, Louis soon discovers that she is attracted to The Black Arrow, Alec's dream persona, a rebel leader. The Black Arrow has condemned Mme. Du Barry for encouraging Louis to plunder the treasury in order to buy her extravagant gifts, but she is nonetheless smitten with him. The Black Arrow's rebel army is thwarted when the prime minister, the Duc de Rigor, who resembles Willie and has been jealously spying on Du Barry, orders the king's soldiers to intercept them near Louis' palace. Over protests from the duke, Louis insists that The Black Arrow be given a fair trial, then condemns his rival to death in court. As The Black Arrow is being led to the guillotine, Mme. Du Barry begs Louis to spare him, vowing never to see the rebel again if he does. Louis agrees, but before the execution can be stopped, the duke reveals that he is in love with Mme. Du Barry and engages Louis in a sword fight. A superior swordsman, the duke chases the king around the palace and is about to deliver the fatal stab when Louis wakes from his dream. Once recovered, Louis tells Alec that he deserves May more than he and offers them $10,000 as a wedding gift. After the reformed May turns down the money, declaring that she and Alec are "starting from scratch," Mr. Jones, the tax collector, demands that Louis hand over $80,000, and Louis is a poor man once again.

Cast

Red Skelton

Louis Blore/King Louis [XV]

Lucille Ball

May Daly/Mme. Du Barry

Gene Kelly

Alec Howe/Black Arrow

Virginia O'brien

Ginny

"rags" Ragland

Charlie/Dauphin

Zero Mostel

Rami, the Swami/Taliostra

Donald Meek

Mr. Jones/Duc de Choiseul

Douglass Dumbrille

Willie/Duc de Rigor

George Givot

Cheezy/Count de Roquefort

Louise Beavers

Niagara

Tommy Dorsey

Buddy Rich

Drummer

Ziggy Elman

Trumpeter

The Pied Pipers

Jo Stafford

Dick Haymes

The Three Oxford Boys

Six Hits And A Miss

Music Maids

Earl Covert

Singer

J. D. Jewkes

Singer

Harry Stanton

Singer

Virginia Rees

Singer

Faith Kruger

Singer

Allan Watson

Singer

Charles Coleman

Doorman, Charlie

Cecil Cunningham

Wife

Harry Hayden

Husband

Clara Blandick

Old lady on subway

Andrew Tombes

Escort

Kay Aldridge

Girl

Pierre Watkin

Patron

Don Wilson

Announcer's voice

Sig Arno

Nick

Ernie Alexander

Delivery man

Hugh Beaumont

Footman

William Forrest

Guard captain

Charles Judels

Innkeeper

Chester Clute

Doctor

Michael Visaroff

Flunky

Gene Ramey

Flunky

William Costello

Flunky

Dell Henderson

Flunky

Edward Cooper

Flunky

Thomas Clarke

Flunky

Emmett Casey

Flunky

Christian J. Frank

Lackey

Emory Parnell

Gatekeeper

Mitchell Lewis

Rebel

Marilyn Maxwell

Chorus girl

Kay Williams

Chorus girl

Aileen Haley

Chorus girl

Hazel Brooks

Chorus girl

Georgia Carroll

Chorus girl

Eve Whitney

Chorus girl

Inez Cooper

Chorus girl

Ruth Ownbey

Chorus girl

Dorothy Haas

Chorus girl

Natalie Draper

Chorus girl

Theo Coffman

Chorus girl

Mary Jane French

Chorus girl

Marie Blake

Dick Alexander

Art Miles

Paul Newlan

Jack Byron

Photo Collections

Du Barry Was a Lady - Gene Kelly Rehearsal Photos
Here are a few photos taken of Gene Kelly as he rehearses a dance number from Du Barry Was a Lady (1943).
Du Barry Was a Lady - Movie Poster
Here is an American one-sheet movie poster for MGM's Du Barry Was a Lady (1943), starring Lucille Ball and Red Skelton. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Du Barry Was a Lady - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's Du Barry Was a Lady (1943), starring Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, and Zero Mostel.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Musical
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1943
Premiere Information
New York opening: 19 Aug 1943
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the musical DuBarry Was a Lady , book by Herbert Fields and B. G. DeSylva, music and lyrics by Cole Porter, as produced by B. G. DeSylva (New York, 6 Dec 1939).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,051ft (9 reels)

Articles

Du Barry Was a Lady


True to standard operating procedure for its day, MGM bought the rights to a popular stage property - Du Barry Was a Lady, then proceeded to make so many changes that it’s hardly the same show. Much of the Cole Porter score was scrapped for the film version of Du Barry Was a Lady (1943); it retained only a few of the original songs and substituted new material by studio songwriters. The movie also cut out the racier overtones in the musical’s story of a New York nightclub attendant who dreams that he is King Louis XV of France and that the gorgeous showgirl for whom he has a yen is Madame Du Barry.

In casting the two leads, played onstage by Bert Lahr and Ethel Merman, MGM substituted Red Skelton and Lucille Ball. Third-billed Gene Kelly, in his third MGM film, is the guy who winds up with the showgirl at the film’s end. One of the movie’s main attractions is the sight of Tommy Dorsey and his band, including drummer Buddy Rich, performing in 18th-century costumes and powdered wigs. A young stage performer named Zero Mostel makes his movie debut, and the film also is enlivened by appearances by rising MGM star Lana Turner (in a cameo) and starlet Ava Gardner (in a bit as a Vargas calendar model).

The Porter songs retained in the movie include "Do I Love You?," which provided Kelly with an outstanding dance number; "Katie Went to Haiti" by Dorsey and his band; and "Friendship," shared by Skelton, Ball and Kelly.

Du Barry Was a Lady was Ball’s first movie as a star at MGM, which had just bought her contract from RKO. In her autobiography, Love, Lucy, she wrote that one of the great pleasures for her was getting to know Skelton, whom she described as "a very sad clown... Something about him is just inescapably poignant." Ball wrote that most of the action in Du Barry "consisted of Red in satin knee breeches chasing me around a big double bed. We practiced for days on a trampoline, which made me acutely seasick." Ball wrote that a New York reviewer commented of her Du Barry performance that she had become "a musical-comedy star of the first magnitude." She failed to mention, however, that her singing for the movie was dubbed by Martha Mears.

It was Du Barry that gave the actress her "Lucille Ball" look. MGM hairstylist Sydney Guilaroff dyed her already-red hair a more vibrant tone for Technicolor called "Tango Red," described by Ball as being "as orange as a piece of fruit hanging on a tree," and an upswept hairstyle so heavily lacquered that the actress swore she had "to take the crust off it at night by cracking it with a brush." Her makeup also was changed to feature a "scarlet, four-cornered mouth." Studio designer Irene also contributed to Ball’s flamboyant new image by putting her in colors that, according to Ball, were so "vivid I felt like a sunburst, a prism, a tropical bird of paradise."

Producer: Arthur Freed
Director: Roy Del Ruth
Screenplay: Irving Brecher, Nancy Hamilton, Wilkie Mahoney, from play by Buddy DeSylva and Herbert Fields
Cinematography: Karl Freund
Editing: Blanche Sewell
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Costume Design: Irene, Gile Steele
Original Music: Cole Porter, Daniele Amfitheatrof, Frances Ash, Walter Donaldson, Burton Lane, Ned Washington Principal Cast: Red Skelton (Louis Blore/King Louis XV), Lucille Ball (May Daly/Madame Du Barry), Gene Kelly (Alec Howe/Black Arrow), Virginia O’Brien (Ginny), Rags Ragland (Charlie/Dauphin), Zero Mostel (Rami, the Swami/Taliostra).
C-101m. Closed captioning.

by Roger Fristoe
Du Barry Was A Lady

Du Barry Was a Lady

True to standard operating procedure for its day, MGM bought the rights to a popular stage property - Du Barry Was a Lady, then proceeded to make so many changes that it’s hardly the same show. Much of the Cole Porter score was scrapped for the film version of Du Barry Was a Lady (1943); it retained only a few of the original songs and substituted new material by studio songwriters. The movie also cut out the racier overtones in the musical’s story of a New York nightclub attendant who dreams that he is King Louis XV of France and that the gorgeous showgirl for whom he has a yen is Madame Du Barry. In casting the two leads, played onstage by Bert Lahr and Ethel Merman, MGM substituted Red Skelton and Lucille Ball. Third-billed Gene Kelly, in his third MGM film, is the guy who winds up with the showgirl at the film’s end. One of the movie’s main attractions is the sight of Tommy Dorsey and his band, including drummer Buddy Rich, performing in 18th-century costumes and powdered wigs. A young stage performer named Zero Mostel makes his movie debut, and the film also is enlivened by appearances by rising MGM star Lana Turner (in a cameo) and starlet Ava Gardner (in a bit as a Vargas calendar model). The Porter songs retained in the movie include "Do I Love You?," which provided Kelly with an outstanding dance number; "Katie Went to Haiti" by Dorsey and his band; and "Friendship," shared by Skelton, Ball and Kelly. Du Barry Was a Lady was Ball’s first movie as a star at MGM, which had just bought her contract from RKO. In her autobiography, Love, Lucy, she wrote that one of the great pleasures for her was getting to know Skelton, whom she described as "a very sad clown... Something about him is just inescapably poignant." Ball wrote that most of the action in Du Barry "consisted of Red in satin knee breeches chasing me around a big double bed. We practiced for days on a trampoline, which made me acutely seasick." Ball wrote that a New York reviewer commented of her Du Barry performance that she had become "a musical-comedy star of the first magnitude." She failed to mention, however, that her singing for the movie was dubbed by Martha Mears. It was Du Barry that gave the actress her "Lucille Ball" look. MGM hairstylist Sydney Guilaroff dyed her already-red hair a more vibrant tone for Technicolor called "Tango Red," described by Ball as being "as orange as a piece of fruit hanging on a tree," and an upswept hairstyle so heavily lacquered that the actress swore she had "to take the crust off it at night by cracking it with a brush." Her makeup also was changed to feature a "scarlet, four-cornered mouth." Studio designer Irene also contributed to Ball’s flamboyant new image by putting her in colors that, according to Ball, were so "vivid I felt like a sunburst, a prism, a tropical bird of paradise." Producer: Arthur Freed Director: Roy Del Ruth Screenplay: Irving Brecher, Nancy Hamilton, Wilkie Mahoney, from play by Buddy DeSylva and Herbert Fields Cinematography: Karl Freund Editing: Blanche Sewell Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons Costume Design: Irene, Gile Steele Original Music: Cole Porter, Daniele Amfitheatrof, Frances Ash, Walter Donaldson, Burton Lane, Ned Washington Principal Cast: Red Skelton (Louis Blore/King Louis XV), Lucille Ball (May Daly/Madame Du Barry), Gene Kelly (Alec Howe/Black Arrow), Virginia O’Brien (Ginny), Rags Ragland (Charlie/Dauphin), Zero Mostel (Rami, the Swami/Taliostra). C-101m. Closed captioning. by Roger Fristoe

Quotes

(Singing) Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la you've come to wash my face!
- King Louis XV
(Singing in return) Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la we've come to wash your face!
- Maids

Trivia

Notes

Music orchestrator Axel Stordahl's name was misspelled in the opening credits as "Alec." The Herbert Fields, B. G. DeSylva and Cole Porter Broadway musical starred Bert Lahr and Ethel Merman. Many reviewers commented on the fact that, to make the play acceptable to the MPPA, Lahr's part was changed from a men's bathroom attendant to a cloak room attendant, and all the "bathroom" humor was deleted. Dance director Charles Walters appeared in the Broadway show as "Alec." Modern sources note that Du Barry Was a Lady was first considered as a screen vehicle for Mae West. In 1941, RKO competed with M-G-M for the screen rights to the play, intending it as a vehicle for Ginger Rogers, according to modern sources. M-G-M finally won the rights by buying both Du Barry Was a Lady and Panama Hattie, another Merman-Porter musical, which the studio made into a film in 1942 .
       Comedian Zero Mostel made his screen debut in the picture, having been "discovered" by producer Arthur Freed while performing in a New York nightclub. Although the Hollywood Reporter review called Mostel "nothing short of a wow," other reviewers gave the comedian mixed notices. According to a July 1942 Hollywood Reporter news item, Lew Brown was hired to work on the film's script, but his contribution to the final film has not been confirmed. Richard Quine, Ann Sothern, the DeMarcos, and Keenan Wynn were announced as possible cast members, but did not appear in the completed picture. John Carradine was listed as a cast member in both Hollywood Reporter news items and production charts, but was not included in the final film. Grace Gillern, Richard Ainley, Happy Felton, Jerrie Belkley and the Swingsters were also listed as cast members in Hollywood Reporter production charts and news items, but their appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. Hollywood Reporter announced that Dorothy Barton, Esther Fern├índez and Frances Fox had been tested for roles in the picture, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
       Although Blanche Sewell received onscreen credit as editor, Harold Kress is listed as editor in most of the production charts. Kay Aldridge and the above-listed chorus girls became known as the "DuBarry Adorables" and were cast in many other M-G-M musicals. In the film, the Oxford Boys imitate various musical instruments and well-known band leaders, such as Kay Kyser. According to modern sources, M-G-M stylist Sydney Guilaroff styled Lucille Ball's hair for the film, dying it flaming red, the color that later became her trademark.