Thursday, 9 August 2012
Du Barry Was A Lady (1943)
Of all the silly 40’s musicals I have seen, Du Barry Was A Lady (1943) must be one of the silliest. I happened upon it after discussing 18th century in the movies with Pimpinett and found that you can watch the whole movie on Youtube. Watching it was a bit of a revelation, because I had seen it before as a child. You see, when I saw Singin’ In the Rain as an adult I was very puzzled, because I had distinct memories of being largely an 18th century movie. Seems I had mixed the two movies into one- Gene Kelly stars in both of them, so perhaps it isn’t so strange. So I had great fun watching this movie!
The plot is very simple. Beautiful but poor singer (Lucille Ball) rejects true love with dashing, but equally poor dancer (Gene Kelly). Instead she plans to marry a newly rich washroom attendant instead (Red Skelton) instead. After a dream sequence where everyone is transported to the 18th century where Ball is Madame Du Barry, everyone realizes (despite that it’s Skelton’s dream) that true love is the most important after all.
The strength of this movie is some nice song by Cole Porter and some really nice costumes. My absolute favourite is this outfit worn by Virginia O’Brien. I want a blouse like this very badly!
I love this one too! It looks like a pale grey jacket that ends at the waist, but it’s actually two toned and the part below the waist is in the same fabric as the skirt.
Perhaps slightly over the top with the lace on hat and jacket…
I do like this pink evening gown, though.
Being in colour you also get a nice views on different shades used in makeup, depending on hair colour. Lucille Ball wears an orange red lipstick that matches her hair, and eyebrows.
While Virginia O’Brien wears a rosy red, but not very dark lipstick.
A chorus girl with honey blond hair and warmer makeup tones.
The makeup and hair is basically the same, even with the towering wigs Ball wears in the dream sequence. Contemporary makeup and hair.
As you can see the makeup is the same, but with an added beauty spot. And this wig even has the same hairstyle in the front, even if it’s white, before it tower away and becomes high.
Of course the 18th century costumes are spot on and the likeness to Madame du Barry is extraordinary!
Well no, not really. This movie was no big budget and a lot of costumes and most likely wigs are re-used from Marie Antoinette (1938). That movie was a costume extravaganza, and more accurate than many other costume movies of the time, but still more of an idea of the 18th century than a faithful reproduction. In Du Barry Was A Lady they make use of the 18th century being just a dream and goes one step further- the maids are all dressed as chorus legs with very short skirts.
An example of recycled clothes is this lovely riding habit.
Norma Shearer wore it.
And then Lucille did.
There was even a paper doll.