DuBarry Was A Lady (1943) starring Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Gene Kelly, Virginia O’Brien, Rags Ragland, Zero Mostel, Tommy Dorsey
The basic plot of DuBarry Was A Lady is as follows: Hat check man Louis Blore (Red Skelton) is in love with nightclub star May Daly. (Lucille Ball) May, however, is love with a poor dancer (Gene Kelly), but due to her parents’ poverty wants to marry for money. When Louis wins the Irish Sweepstakes, he asks May to marry him and she accepts even though she doesn’t love him. Soon after, Louis has an accident and gets slipped a doctored drink (meant for Gene Kelly), where he dreams that he s King Louis XV pursuing the infamous Madame Du Barry (Lucille Ball).
In short, it s an MGM musical comedy, with some wonderfully funny moments with two of the screens great clowns, Red Skelton and Lucille Ball. Gene Kelly is also very good, as are Zero Mostel and Virginia O’Brien in comedic roles. Many highlights to the film include Red Skelton doing a variation on his Guzzler’s Gin routine, when he drinks a mickey finn meant for Gene Kelly, which segues into a dream sequence set in old France, with Red Skelton as King Louis XV, Lucille Ball as Madame DuBarry, and Gene Kelly as the Black Arrow. Some wonderful Cole Porter songs including the classic Friendship , Madam, I Love your Crepes Suzette , Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra (it is a musical, after all) and the comic interplay between the 3 main characters.
If you’re interested in other Red Skelton musical comedies, be sure to check out Three Little Words starring Red Skelton and Fred Astaire, and Neptune s Daughter, starring Ricardo Montalban, Esther Williams, Red Skelton and Betty Garrett.
Editorial review of DuBarry Was a Lady | Red Skelton | Lucille Ball | Gene Kelly, courtesy of Amazon.com
Presented in glorious Technicolor, Du Barry Was a Lady is an all-singing, all-dancing musical extravaganza with enough star power to light a major city. Freely adapted from the Cole Porter musical that was a Broadway smash in 1939, this was Lucille Ball‘s first color film, and after several years of lower-profile movies at RKO, Lucy jumped at the chance to star in an MGM musical, assuming the role that Ethel Merman had played on Broadway. And while Lucy gets plenty of screen time to strut her stuff as the sassy and lovelorn nightclub singer May Daly, the real star of the show is Red Skelton as hat-check boy Louis Blore (played by Bert Lahr on Broadway), whose affection for May is matched by Alec Howe (Gene Kelly), a struggling songwriter with whom May — against her gold-digger instincts — has reluctantly fallen in love. But when newly-rich sweepstakes winner Louis accidentally drinks a Mickey Finn intended for Alec, he passes out and dreams of being France s King Louis XV, living in royal splendor and running after the lovely Madame Du Barry (Ball) in the palace at Versailles. It’s a comedic spin on The Wizard of Oz, with the contemporary characters (including Zero Mostel in a wacky supporting role) playing their 18th-century counterparts.
This free-form premise is merely a clever excuse for an eye-candy feast of musical comedy, and Du Barry Was a Lady works best as a smorgasbord of all-star entertainment, from the jazzy swing of Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra (with Buddy Rich on drums) to the grand-scale production numbers featuring the splendidly costumed Vargas girls (made famous in the pages of Esquire magazine) and Gene Kelly at his fancy-footed best. It s a veritable explosion of Technicolor fun (this DVD transfer is nothing short of spectacular), and in addition to some fine singing by Virginia O Brien, vigilant movie buffs can spot Lana Turner in a small, uncredited role. Also included in Lucille Ball Film Collection, this delightful DVD includes two short subjects from 1943: Seeing Hands is an Oscar-nominated Pete Smith Specialty short about Ben Helwig, who overcame blindness to become a gifted machinist; the film’s progressive message encourages industry to hire persons with disabilities who can make a valuable contribution to wartime industry. Also included is the MGM Barney Bear cartoon Bah, Wilderness, and a faded print of the original theatrical trailer for Du Barry Was a Lady, which really makes you appreciate the dazzling Technicolor of the full-length feature. —Jeff Shannon
Soundtrack for DuBarry Was A Lady
- DuBarry Was A Lady (1943)
- Music by Burton Lane, lyrics by Ralph Freed, played during the opening credits, sung by Lucille Ball (dubbed by Martha Mears) and chorus at the nightclub
- Do I Love You? (1939)
- Written by Cole Porter, played during the opening credits and often as background music, sung by Gene Kelly in May’s dressing room, danced by Gene Kelly with a singing chorus at the nightclub, reprised by Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra
- Mon Homme (My Man) (1920)
- Music by Maurice Yvain, background music when Rami imitates Charles Boyer
- (I’ve Grown So Lonely) Thinking of You (1926)
- Written by Walter Donaldson and Paul Ash, performed by The Three Oxford Boys imitating Kay Kyser and His Orchestra
- A Cigarette, Sweet Music and You (1942)
- Music and lyrics by Roy Ringwald
- Sleepy Lagoon (1940)
- Music by Eric Coates, lyrics by Jack Lawrence
- You Are my Sunshine (1940)
- Music and Lyrics by Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell
- I’m Getting Sentimental Over You (1932)
- (Tommy Dorsey’s theme song) music by George Bassman, lyrics by Ned Washington
- Salome (1943)
- Music by Roger Edens, lyrics by E.Y. Harburg, sung by Virginia O’Brien with Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra
- I Love an Esquire Girl (1943)
- Music by Roger Edens, lyrics by Lew Brown and Ralph Freed, sung by Red Skelton and chorus
- Ladies of the Bath (1943)
- Written by Roger Edens, sung by Red Skelton and chorus
- Katie Went to Haiti (1939)
- Written by Cole Porter, sung by The Pied Pipers, including Jo Stafford and Dick Haymes, with Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra
- Madame, I Love Your Crepes Suzettes (1943)
- Music by Burton Lane, lyrics by Ralph Freed, sung and danced by Red Skelton and Lucille Ball (dubbed by Martha Mears)
- Song of the Rebellion (1943)
- Written by Roger Edens, sung by Gene Kelly and chorus
- A Hot Time in the Old Town (1896)
- Music by Theo. A. Metz, played by the band at the guillotine
- Friendship (1939)
- Written by Cole Porter, sung by Red Skelton, Lucille Ball (dubbed by Martha Mears), Gene Kelly, Virginia O’Brien, Tommy Dorsey, Rags Ragland and Zero Mostel, with Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra
- We’ll Get It
- Played by Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra
Funny movie quotes from DuBarry was a Lady co-starring Red Skelton and Lucille Ball, Gene Kelly, Virginia Mayo, Zero Mostel
King Louis XV (Red Skelton): [singing] Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la you ve come to wash my face!
Maids: [singing in return] Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la we ve come to wash your face!
Alec Howe (Gene Kelly): [about May Daly] Isn’t she wonderful?
Taliostra (Zero Mostel): What’s so wonderful about her? Take away her eyes, her nose, her lips, and what have you got? A blank expression.
Alec Howe (Gene Kelly): You’re human aren t you?
May Daly (Lucille Ball): I hope not!
Louis Blore (Red Skelton): Will nothing come of our beautiful friendship?
Ginny (Virginia O’Brien): Not if I have anything to say about it!
Ginny (Virginia O’Brien): Can’t you see I love you and want you for the father of my children?
Louis Blore (Red Skelton): I didn t know you had any!
Louis Blore (Red Skelton): My boarding house is so crowded, we have to take showers piggy back.
Louis Blore (Red Skelton): You remind me of one of those girls in Esquire, the ones with clothes on, of course.
Old lady: Next time I get hitched it’s for dough.
Louis Blore (Red Skelton): Why is it the rich people have all the money?
Louis Blore (Red Skelton): My whole life I’ve been kind to dumb animals, but this is the first time a dumb animal’s been kind to me!
Louis Blore (Red Skelton): Are you wearing my old suit? It’s too small for you, isn’t it?
Charlie (Rags Ragland): Nah, I’m just too far into it.
Louis Blore (Red Skelton): Money ain’t changed me, I m still lovable!
Charlie (Rags Ragland): Hey, Slim! Watch your hat? Watch your derby?
Louis Blore (Red Skelton): Hey everybody, guess what? May’s getting married! To me!
Louis Blore (Red Skelton): She s just excited. She s never married before.
Charlie (Rags Ragland): We ll slip him a Rooney.
Louis Blore (Red Skelton): A Rooney? What s that?
Charlie (Rags Ragland): It s a high-powered Mickey.
Louis Blore (Red Skelton): Here’s to I, May, and you – the eternal rectangle. If this was back in the glorious days of France, I would be King Louis, May would be Du Barry, and you would be one of the common folks – a peasant.
King Louis XV (Red Skelton): Hey! Men don’t kiss men!
Dauphin (Rags Ragland): They do in France, Pop.
King Louis XV (Red Skelton): What’s the setup around here, am I really the King?
Dauphin (Rags Ragland): Anyone who says you ain’t, dies.
Madame Du Barry (Lucille Ball): He s mad about me!
Ginny (Virginia O’Brien): They re all mad, about you!
Duc de Rigor: Who dares to interfere?
King Louis XV (Red Skelton): Me! My Majesty!
Black Arrow (Gene Kelly): Be brave, my friend, you’re dying for your country.
Taliostra: (Zero Mostel): Yeah, but I was born in the city!
Dauphin (Rags Ragland): Get your Daily Chopping Guide! You can t tell which head is which without a program!
Charlie (Rags Ragland): That s OK, he s snapping back to abnormal now.
Ginny (Virginia O’Brien): You never look at me like that.
Louis Blore (Red Skelton): You never look like that.
Alec Howe (Gene Kelly): You know, it s too bad May couldn t marry for love and money.
Louis Blore (Red Skelton): You mean sort of a double wedding?
Black Arrow (Gene Kelly): How embarrassing, to be found hiding behind a woman’s skirts.
Black Arrow (Gene Kelly): Du Barry! That jay! That Jezebel! That spoiler of kings!
Madame Du Barry (Lucille Ball): Isn t he wonderful?
Black Arrow (Gene Kelly): Does she love the king? No! She loves rubies! So your children go hungry! She loves silks! So your wives go naked!
Madame Du Barry (Lucille Ball): [dreamily] Look at his eyes.
King Louis XV (Red Skelton): We ll give him a fair trial. Then we ll hang him.
King Louis XV (Red Skelton): For parading without a license each of you gets thirty days. For planning to knock me off, you get the guillotine.