Sunday, February 26, 2012

Du Barry was a Lady (1943)

Here's a review on a old Hollywood musical film, an adaptation from Broadway: Du Barry Was a Lady.
Before composing the review, I would like to discuss the feud between Hollywood and Broadway. Without saying, many would prefer the original Broadway version to the film version. It's just a whole different experience to watch a play as live audience-- certain emotions cannot be procured in a movie theatre. Sometimes I do wonder why Hollywood would want to purchase film rights from Broadway to make those unparalleled musicals into movies. Sure, it is a guaranteed way to earn money from us movie-goers-who-choose-to-watch-movies-instead-of-Broadway-musicals-due-to-budget-constrains, but can they stand the disgruntled rotten tomatoes? Look at how full of angst fans of Phantom of the Opera exuded.

Nevertheless, I'm biased when it comes to Lucille Ball. But objectively speaking, she's the type of actress who whenever presented with a weak script, would come out of the script and make the plot alive. She's the kind of a person who would give 120% when only 100% is required of her. Even movie critiques and professional reviewers concur these statements (I've read those statements!). And we all know how harsh and brutal these experts could be.
"Now I'm not falling for anyone until I see the whites of their checkbooks."

Lucille Ball was cast as May Daly/ Madame Du Barry
Red Skelton was cast as Louis Blore and Louis XV
Gene Kelly was cast as Alec Howe and The Black Arrow

So the story goes like this: May Daly is a talented and beautiful nightclub singer. She vows not to fall in love with a man with no dough after seeing how hard her parents had to work to survive in the harsh city of New York. Both employees in the nightclub, Louis Blore and Alec Howe are deeply in love with her. Of course, May Daly loves Alec, but because he is virtually penniless, she chooses to subdue her feelings for him. One day, Louis wins the Irish Sweepstakes and becomes a millionaire overnight. He proposes to May Daly, who accepts it. May Daly makes it clear to Louis that she isn't in love with him, but she says her yes because he can provide her stability. Louis accepts it, and fervently believes that he can win her heart one day.

Louis is accidentally slipped a mickey and he falls into a deep sleep. He dreams he is the corrupted King Louis XV, who uses all his money from extorting the peasants to woo the impossibly demanding and selfish Madame Du Barry who is May Daly, and Alec is The Black Arrow, the hero who wants to assassinate the tyrant king. After a series of slapstick comedy, Louis wakes up from the dream and realizes that money cannot buy love. May Daly finally awakes from her stupid philosophy and decides to marry Alec, and the story ends on the typical happily-ever-after note. 

A side note: I just realize how well I can write a synopsis! 

From the summary, you could see how tough it is for an actress to take up the role of May Daly or Madame Du Barry. One would first need to get all gussied up for the role of a perfectly groomed singer in a nightclub; that kind of sophisticated and serious woman who is hard to get. Then, one would need to be recast into a selfish and demanding queen, and be spun into a series of crazy comedic routines that would make the character a complete antithesis of the nightclub singer. I must proclaim that with such a tough role, only Lucille Ball would be able to take it up. Maybe Sandra Bullock can do it too.

I love the movie not just because of Lucy, not just because of Gene Kelly, but also because the songs were all written by Cole Porter. I love "Friendship". And my favorite number is "Do I Love You." It just melts my heart! The lyrics, the melody and the rhythm, the answer of "Yes, I do love you" is just encapsulated in the song.

Do I love you, do I? Doesn't one and one make two?
Do I love you, do I? Does July need a sky of blue?
Would I miss you, would I? If you should ever go away?
If the sun should desert the day, what would life be? 

Will I leave you, never? Could be ocean leave the shore? 
Will I worship you forever? Isn't heaven forever more.
Do I love you, do I? Oh my dear, it's so easy to see. 
Don't you know I do, don't I show you I do just as you love me.
I guess this lyrics seems kind of familiar to my Twitter followers. Each time my iPod plays this song sung by Ella Fitzgerald, I'll type the lyrics out and send it to the virtual world. It's simply poetic. If someone I love were to look into my eyes, play the piano and sing this song to me, my cold heart would melt!
Gene Kelly did a phenomenal job of singing this song. His tap dance was, not surprisingly, excellent as well.

Red Skelton is without speaking, one of the best slapstick comedians ever. I think Lucy learned a lot from him! You could see hints of a future Lucy Ricardo in this movie!

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