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Meet the People (1944)

A idealistic shipyard worker interests a beautiful Hollywood star in staging a musical tribute to the war industry, but they disagree on some important issues.

Director:

(as Charles Riesner)

Writers:

(short story), (short story) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
The Commander
...
Mr. Smith (as 'Rags' Ragland)
...
Annie
Vaughn Monroe and His Orchestra ...
Vaughn Monroe's Orchestra
Spike Jones and His City Slickers ...
Spike Jones' City Slickers
...
Uncle Felix (as Steve Geray)
Paul Regan ...
'Buck'
...
Mr. George Peetwick
Betty Jaynes ...
Steffi
...
John Swanson
...
Monte Rowland
Miriam LaVelle ...
Miriam - Acrobatic Dancer
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Storyline

Shipyard worker Bill Swanson writes a wartime play celebrating the American spirit. He meets theatre actress Julie Hampton, visiting the shipyard on a bond drive, and convinces her to read his patriotic opus. Enthusiastic at its potential, Julie is able to get the show produced, but Bill is dismayed when he discovers that its being turned into a musical. Withdrawing his option, he returns to his day job, but Julie isn't to be put off so easily. Written by Chris Stone <jstone@bellatlantic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents the gayest musical!


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

15 March 1945 (Mexico)  »

Also Known As:

Conozca a la gente  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The play initially was performed in Los Angeles. It opened on Broadway in New York City, New York, USA on 25 December 1940, and closed on 10 May 1941 after 160 performances (considered a moderate hit). The opening night cast included Jack Albertson, Nanette Fabray, Jack Gilford, Peggy Ryan and Doodles Weaver. See more »

Goofs

Director Charles Reisner's name was incorrectly spelled in the main credits as "Riesner". See more »

Quotes

William 'Swanee' Swanson: [Referring to his jalopy] I know this looks like a traveling scrap heap, but it's really poetry on wheels.
Julie Hampton: [Dryly, as the engine makes grinding noises] I see what you mean.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Meet the People
(1940)
Music by Jay Gorney
Lyrics by Henry Myers
Played during the opening credits
Sung by Dick Powell and chorus in his daydream
Reprised by Lucille Ball (dubbed by Gloria Grafton) and chorus at dress rehearsal
Sung by a chorus at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

Odd Celebration
11 April 2006 | by (Virginia Beach) – See all my reviews

The movies I choose to watch are sometimes suggested by events. Recently. I encountered yet another incomprehensible act by the American War Department and took refuge in this.

It is from an era of justified involvement in a war. Death camps, master race.

It is rank propaganda, subsidized by political leaders. It has other offenses. Blacks are shown twice: a man as a yassa porter and women happily picking cotton.

And yet its charm is in the thing it celebrates. You likely will never see this. It is dated and not very good as a film. The strings it pulls... well, they're broken. So let me describe it.

It features Lucille Ball before she made herself a joke. In this era, she was a desirable pinup, even at 33. She parades her legs and glamor as a famous stage actress. She meets and falls in love with a wartime shipworker who aspires to be a playwright. He, it turns out, has written a play featuring the good souls of the shipyard representing all the "ordinary people" of America who labored for the war effort, which at root was a competition of manufacturing infrastructures.

That play is the device around which all sorts of narrative effects are folded. There's the bit which forms the plot: she likes the play and attempts to put it on. But it gets too glamorized for the author. It isn't "real" enough and rather than demean the subject, he forgoes wealth and fame and closes it down. She follows him back to work in the shipyard to charm him into letting the show go on. As scripted, she discovers and comes to appreciate the goodness of the honestly laboring people.

At the end, she puts on the play as he intended it to be, at the shipyard. Inside the play's performance, he literally enters the play and reconciles with our girl. End of story.

Along the way, there are an amazing number of other excuses pulled to have song and dance numbers. Its purpose, after all was to mix entertainment and "the message."

So you have:

—lunchtime shows at the shipyard (with Spike Jones and Hitler played by a chimp). Also, an evening show with several elaborate numbers.

—a love song when the two go on their first date, the song half him demonstrating the song to her and half wooing her in the story by song.

—a bit as if the movie were a musical comedy. In this case, the story itself bends into comic song as Burt Lahr's character christens his boat.

—imitations of famous war leaders, performed randomly whenever a certain character appears. Some of these are unrecognizable today.

And that's in addition to seeing bits of the title show in New York and the shipyard.

A lot of entertainment. All the shows, every one, are miniature versions of the larger movie: celebrations of ordinary folk and then American values.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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