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Du Barry Was a Lady (1943)

Passed | | Comedy, Musical | 13 August 1943 (USA)
2:10 | Trailer

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A night club's coatroom attendant who's in-love with the club's singer accidentally sips a drugged drink that makes him dream he's French King Louis XV courting the infamous Madame Du Barry.


Roy Del Ruth


Herbert Fields (play), Buddy G. DeSylva (play) (as B.G. DeSylva) | 3 more credits »



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Complete credited cast:
Red Skelton ... Louis Blore / King Louis XV
Lucille Ball ... May Daly / Madame Du Barry
Gene Kelly ... Alec Howe / Black Arrow
Virginia O'Brien ... Ginny
Rags Ragland ... Charlie / Dauphin (as 'Rags' Ragland)
Zero Mostel ... Rami - the Swami / Taliostra
Donald Meek ... Mr. Jones / Duc de Choiseul
Douglass Dumbrille ... Willie / Duc de Rigor
George Givot ... Cheezy / Count de Roquefort
Louise Beavers ... Niagara
Tommy Dorsey ... Tommy Dorsey
Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra ... Tommy Dorsey's Orchestra


Hat check man Louis Blore is in love with nightclub star May Daly. May, however, is love with a poor dancer, but 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 knocked on the head, where he dreams that he's King Louis XV pursuing the infamous Madame Du Barry. Written by Daniel Bubbeo <dbubbeo@cmp.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's GREATEST MUSICAL EXTRAVAGANZA (original Herald) See more »


Comedy | Musical


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

13 August 1943 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Gentleman's Choice See more »


Box Office


$1,239,222 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,572,000, 31 December 1943

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,496,000, 31 December 1943
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Marie Blake is in studio records/casting call lists for a role in the movie, but she was not seen. See more »


At one point during May Daly''s opening song, Louis is sitting behind the hat check counter admiring her. He has his chin resting on his left hand, which he removes twice when someone come up to the counter. See more »


Niagara: What are you doing, playing one-nighters in dressing rooms?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Three Oxford Boys are credited orally by the MC ('Gene Kelly') as The Oxford Boys. See more »


Featured in That's Entertainment! III (1994) See more »


A Cigarette, Sweet Music and You
Music and lyrics by Roy Ringwald
Performed by The Three Oxford Boys imitating Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The Score, A Perfect Blendship
12 November 2010 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

When MGM bought the rights to Cole Porter's DuBarry Was A Lady for the Arthur Freed unit as per usual the naughty Porter score was completely emasculated and songs old and new from a variety of sources were interpolated into the film. It was like his lyric of Friendship, a perfect blendship.

If you're attentive however you can hear at least two of the songs played as background music, When Love Beckoned and Well Did You Evah which was later interpolated by MGM into High Society for that never to be forgotten duet with Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Only Friendship, Do I Love You Do I and Katie Went To Haiti made the final cut in the score.

Sad also that Ethel Merman and Bert Lahr did not get to repeat the roles they did on Broadway and Darryl Zanuck would not let Betty Grable come over from 20th Century Fox. Ethel only did two of her Broadway roles for the movies, Call Me Madam and Anything Goes and Lahr for whatever reason after the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard Of Oz was given a whole of mediocre parts.

It was said that Merman was not film box office, but certainly Lucille Ball wasn't either at that time. Red Skelton was however, his career was on the rise and so television's two most famous redheads got to team on the big screen.

Lucy is the star of a nightclub chorus and Red is the hat check man who hits the lottery. He's been crushing out on Lucy for forever, but now that he's rich he thinks she might give him a second look. He puts the big moves on her. but she can only see hoofer Gene Kelly. Still his money is tantalizing.

When Red tries to slip Gene a mickey finn he winds up drinking it himself and dreams he's back in the court of Louis XV as Louis XV with Lucy as the notorious Madame DuBarry. And Kelly turns up as the dashing rebel the Black Arrow, rival for the affections of the Madame.

In both the modern and period story MGM packed a lot of entertainment in the 89 minute running time. What court or nightclub would not like to have Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra as its personal band? There are some nice solos by drummer Buddy Rich and singing with the Pied Pipers are Jo Stafford and newly arrived vocalist Dick Haymes.

Virginia O'Brien contributes a few numbers. She never did any acting roles of note, but was always welcome in an MGM production for her singing and devastating dead pan delivery of a song. Making his big screen debut as the nightclub fortune teller was Zero Mostel with just a trace of his zaniness in play.

This was one of the few films that Gene Kelly was in that he really did not have control of his material yet. Nevertheless his Black Arrow persona was a hint of what you saw later in a high flying dance number in Anchors Aweigh and in The Three Musketeers and The Pirate.

A thin plot is just an excuse to hang a lot of comedy and musical entertainment. But what I would have given to see Merman and Lahr do a faithful adaption on screen.

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