Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 3, 2018


Ball, Kelly, Skelton, O'Brien, Dorsey
DU BARRY WAS A LADY (1943). Director: Roy Del Ruth.

May Daly (Lucille Ball) is a nightclub singer who is courted by both Alec (Gene Kelly) and Louis (Red Skelton), neither of whom are rich enough to suit her. She is squired around town by a man who is wealthy, as well as much older, Wille (Douglass Dumbrille). When Louis wins the sweepstakes May wonders if she can have any kind of life with the newly rich fellow, but before any decision is made Louis collapses and dreams that they are all back in the days of King Louis and Madame Du Barry. Who will May ultimately wind up with, and will the IRS man (Donald Meek) leave any money for Louis? Du Barry is a strange picture, whose plot -- such as it is -- is put on hold for about half an hour (after the brief opening minutes) while we watch Tommy Dorsey and his band perform and the Oxford Boys do their impressions of famous band leaders. Others in the cast include the delightfully deadpan Virginia O'Brien; Zero Mostel (who does a pretty terrible impression of Charles Boyer); Louise Beavers as May's sassy maid, Niagara; Dick Haymes, who only appears as the lead vocalist in a group of singers; and drummer Buddy Rich. There's also Clara Blandick as a funny little old lady on a subway who gives advice to Ball and Skelton. This is very loosely based on a Cole Porter Broadway show, although most of the songs in the movie were written by others. Du Barry isn't a very good movie, but it goes out on a high note, with the cast spiritedly performing Porter's "Friendship." Another bright spot is Kelly's dancing to "Do I Love You.", although Kelly doesn't get to do nearly enough dancing in this.

Verdict: Silly, amiable, light-weight, but well-performed, and the final number is a pip. **.


angelman66 said...

Another MGM that is less-than-great but very watchable. Lucy's singing voice of course was dubbed, but she is so gorgeous and charismatic and of course I love Mr. Kelly. I even like the crooning of Dick Haymes, who married Rita Hayworth a decade later.
Need to see this one again soon, I remember it as a 1940s Technicolor feast!

William said...

That it was. And Lucy was dubbed except for the final number, which she reprised with Vivian Vance on an episode of "Lucy. " I like Haymes, too, even if he looks terrible in his French wig in this but he captured Hayworth's hear later on, as you say. .