Du Barry Was a Lady (1943)

96 mins | Musical comedy | 1943

Director:

Roy Del Ruth

Writer:

Irving Brecher

Producer:

Arthur Freed

Cinematographer:

Karl Freund

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

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 (See Entry).
       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 HR review called Mostel "nothing short of a wow," other reviewers gave the comedian mixed notices. According to a Jul 1942 HR 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 HR news items and ... More Less

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 (See Entry).
       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 HR review called Mostel "nothing short of a wow," other reviewers gave the comedian mixed notices. According to a Jul 1942 HR 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 HR 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 HR production charts and news items, but their appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. HR announced that Dorothy Barton, Esther Fernández 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. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Jun 43
p. 215.
Box Office
8 May 1943.
---
Daily Variety
5 May 43
p. 3, 15
Film Daily
5 May 43
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Nov 41
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
1 May 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jun 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jul 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jul 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jul 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Aug 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Aug 42
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Aug 42
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 42
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Aug 42
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Sep 42
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Oct 42
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
5 May 43
p. 3, 8
Hollywood Reporter
24 Aug 43
p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald
8 May 1943.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
8 May 43
p. 1301.
New York Times
20 Aug 43
p. 13.
Variety
5 May 43
p. 8.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
and his Orchestra
Kay Aldridge
William Costello
Dell Henderson
Paul Newlan
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Addl dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Mus presentation
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Assoc
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Men's cost
SOUND
Rec dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
DANCE
Dance dir
MAKEUP
Makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
STAND INS
Voice double for Lucille Ball
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
Assoc
SOURCES
LITERARY
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).
SONGS
"Do I Love You?" "Katie Went to Haiti" and "Friendship," words and music by Cole Porter
"DuBarry Was a Lady" and "Madame I Like Your Crepe Suzettes," words and music by Burton Lane and Ralph Freed
"I Love an Esquire Girl," words and music by Lew Brown, Ralph Freed and Roger Edens
+
SONGS
"Do I Love You?" "Katie Went to Haiti" and "Friendship," words and music by Cole Porter
"DuBarry Was a Lady" and "Madame I Like Your Crepe Suzettes," words and music by Burton Lane and Ralph Freed
"I Love an Esquire Girl," words and music by Lew Brown, Ralph Freed and Roger Edens
"Salome," words and music by E. Y. Harburg and Roger Edens
"Ladies of the Bath" and "Song of the Rebellion," words and music by Roger Edens.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
1943
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 19 August 1943
Production Date:
late August 1942--early November 1942
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
6 May 1943
Copyright Number:
LP12072
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
96
Length(in feet):
9,051
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
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 ... +


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. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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