Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Du Barry Was a Lady.

This movie is all over the place. I like it. :)

It's not a very good movie, even though it is beautiful. The color and costumes and sets are amazing. If you've only ever seen Lucy in her show, you have to see her here. They give her wonderful costumes, and her red hair looks gorgeous in Technicolor!

The plot is random- Lucy is a nightclub singer who loves Gene Kelly (or his character, anyway :), but can't marry him because he's poor and she wants a rich man. Red Skelton is the guy who takes your hat at the nightclub, and he loves Lucy, too, but she only likes him as a friend. He ends up winning a huge sweepstakes, and she agrees to marry him for his money, though she loves Gene. Another guy convinces Red to give Gene a mickey (there's some sort of joke about Mickey Rooney in there that made me giggle), but Red gets it instead and dreams that all of this stuff is happening in 18th century France.

I know, right?

The plot's not so great, and neither are the songs. Except "Friendship"- it's that hilarious song that Lucy later sang with Ethel Mertz in the episode where they're wearing the same dress and rip each other's dresses apart as they sing. :) Here she sings it Red Skelton, Gene Kelly, Rags Ragland, etc., but more on that later. I read that they cut nearly all of the Cole Porter songs (from the Broadway musical) because they were too risque for film. Which sort of explains why the replacement songs are so blah.

I laughed a lot during this movie (but not very much at Red Skelton, to be honest). A lot of the humor is just good old-fashioned cheesiness. At one point, two people are going to be beheaded- in the France dream sequence. There's a big crowd gathered at the guillotine and there's a big sign that says "Double Header." :)

Like I said, I really did like the film. Mostly because of its absurdity. I mean, you have Gene Kelly in a relatively small part (he does one dance), in love with Lucy Ricardo Lucille Ball. There's Red Skelton falling around all over the place with a wig on as Louis XV. There's Rags Ragland getting all twisted up with words and phrases (hilarious!). And Virginia O'Brien, chasing after Red Skelton and doing her deadpan singing thing. Which I love {this is only the second film I've seen her in- the first was The Harvey Girls}.

There's also a really incredible Tommy Dorsey song and...Tommy Dorsey dancing. I watch him as he leads his band and he hardly moves a muscle except for his hand. Then, at the end, he sort-of dances with the rest of the gang during "Friendship." That completely made my day. He has this smile on his face at one point like he feels so awkward and he knows how silly he looks. :)

Then there's this little scene with three guys apparently called The Oxford Boys. You just have to listen for yourself. {It starts at about 30 seconds and ends about 2:50 in, but the big band number afterwards is great, too.}

The guy in the middle is my new hero.

So, hurry off and watch Du Barry Was a Lady as soon as possible. You can watch the whole thing on Youtube starting here. It's a bunch of great moments thrown into one bizarre musical. :)

P.S. I've got several classic movie reviews built up now, that I've been writing over the past couple of weeks. Keep an eye out for a couple more soon!

Until next time,


  1. Girl you are SO right, this movie is nuts -- but in a fun way. :) Glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Cheers for sharing. Looking forward to far more...

  3. Never thought I'd ever see Nip Nelson, the center man with the Oxford Boys. My dad went to high school with him in Canby, Minnesota c. late '20-1930. I've got a picture of the Canby Hi basketball team posed with Nelson (real name Nelson Knoop) and my dad. I was 14 when my dad took me to see Nelson in Seattle in 1964 while he was mcing for the Aqua Follies. He had pretty much the same schtick--imitating instruments like the Mills Brothers and doing impressions. I think he did a Richard Nixon or something like that. He was a real pro. A few snippets I have read online indicate he was a real gentleman with whom other entertainers liked to work. It would be great if someone turned up a kinescope of one of his appearances on Ed Sullivan's "Talk of the Town" show in the early '50s, but it would be an extremely long shot that anything like that was preserved. John O.


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