Du Barry Was a Lady (film)

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DuBarry Was a Lady
Du Barry Was A Lady poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Roy Del Ruth
Produced by Arthur Freed
Written by Herbert Fields
Buddy G. DeSylva
Nancy Hamilton
Irving Brecher
Wilkie C. Mahoney
Based on DuBarry Was a Lady 
by Herbert Fields and B.G. DeSylva
Starring Red Skelton
Lucille Ball
Gene Kelly
Music by Cole Porter
Cinematography Karl Freund
Edited by Blanche Sewell
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • May 30, 1943 (1943-05-30) (United States)
Running time
101 mins.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,296,000[1]
Box office $3,496,000[1]

DuBarry Was a Lady is a 1943 American musical comedy film, starring Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, and Gene Kelly. It is based on the 1939 stage musical of the same name. Shot in Technicolor, the film was directed by Roy Del Ruth and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.


MGM originally purchased the rights to DuBarry was a Lady for $80,000 as an intended vehicle for Ann Sothern (Publicity posters (as seen above right) and the doll behind screen credits clearly bear Miss Sothern's likeness).[2] When Sothern turned down the revised role, MGM decided to cast Lucille Ball.[3] (Southern reportedly turned down the role because she was pregnant with her daughter, Tisha Sterling.)[4]

The film used very little of the original Cole Porter score. According to TimeOut, "this adaptation of the Cole Porter musical ditches most of the songs - and the lusty bawdiness that went with them - to fashion a vehicle for Skelton and Ball, in the process interpolating more 'suitable' numbers."[5]

According to TCM, "MGM bought the rights to a popular stage property... 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...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."[6] New characters were added, and many of the original characters' names were changed. The basic outline remained the same, although the relationships of some of the characters were different. In the film, Ginny (another singer) pines away for Louis, who is too infatuated with May Daly to notice, and it is only at the end that he realizes that Ginny loves him.

The dream sequence was purposely delayed by more than forty-five minutes, with vaudeville-type acts performed as a floor show before the sequence got underway. The Louis XV - Mme. DuBarry scenes, unlike the play, featured very little singing.


Source: New York Times[7]


Musical numbers featured Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra[6][7] (featuring Buddy Rich and Ziggy Elman), Dick Haymes, Jo Stafford, The Pied Pipers, Six Hits and a Miss, and The Music Maids. Lucille Ball's singing voice was dubbed by Martha Mears in most of the picture,[6][8]but her real voice is heard in "Friendship".

  • Medley: "Dubarry Was a Lady (Main Title)/Do I Love You?" - MGM Studio Orchestra
  • "Dubarry Was a Lady" - MGM Studio Chorus
  • "Nightclub Medley: Give Him to the Oo-La-La/Well, Did You Evah" [Partial] - MGM Studio Orchestra
  • Oxford Boys Medley: "Thinking of You/A Cigarette, Sweet Music and You"
  • Medley: "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You/Well, Git It!" - Tommy Dorsey
  • "When Love Beckoned (On 52nd Street)" - MGM Studio Orchestra
  • "Do I Love You?" - Gene Kelly
  • "Do I Love You" - Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra, The Pied Pipers
  • "Salome" - Virginia O'Brien
  • "I Love an Esquire Girl" - Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra, The Pied Pipers, Red Skelton
  • Medley: "Friendship/Do I Love You?/But in the Morning, No" - MGM Studio Orchestra
  • "Ladies of the Bath"
  • "Katie Went to Haiti" - Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra, The Pied Pipers
  • "Madame, I Love Your Crepes Suzette" - Red Skelton
  • "Song of Rebellion" - Gene Kelly
  • "Friendship" - Lucille Ball, Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra, Gene Kelly, Virginia O'Brien, Red Skelton

Critical response[edit]

Bosley Crowther, in his review for The New York Times, wrote: "they have caught most of the humor of the original, with a lot of Red Skelton's own thrown in. And they have added Rags Ragland and Zero Mostel to be funny when Mr. Skelton is not... particularly they have given the whole show a Technicolor sheen, an eye-filling opulence and splendor, which is fabulous in these rationed times."[7]

Box Office[edit]

According to MGM records the film earned $2,572,000 in the US and Canada and $924,000 elsewhere resulting in a profit of $857,000.[1]


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ "Straight From New York". The Milwaukee Sentinel. March 11, 1941. p. 14. Retrieved January 7, 2013. 
  3. ^ Films in Review , Volume 39 39. National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. 1988. p. 135. 
  4. ^ Karol, Michael. Lucy A to Z: The Lucille Ball Encyclopedia, iUniverse, 2004, ISBN 0595752136, p. 128
  5. ^ "Review. 'Du Barry Was a Lady'" timeout.com, accessed October 30, 2015
  6. ^ a b c Fristoe, Roger. Du Barry Was a Lady tcm.com, accessed October 30, 2015
  7. ^ a b c "Review. 'Du Barry Was a Lady' (1943)" New York Times, August 20, 1943
  8. ^ Fordin, Hugh. "'DuBarry Was a Lady'", M-G-M's Greatest Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit, Da Capo Press, 1975, ISBN 0306807300, p. 70

External links[edit]