Meet the People(1944) starring Lucille Ball, Dick Powell
At its’ heart, Meet the People is a musical romantic comedy, where shipyard worker William ‘Swanee’ Swanson (played by Dick Powell) has written a patriotic play about the American worker during World War II. Actress Julie Hampton (played by Lucille Ball) is hired to act in the play, but when Swanson has “creative differences” with the producer, he wants the actual shipyard workers to star in the play.
There’s the typical tension between the romantic leads, but I frankly enjoyed the performances of some of the “second bananas” — notably Bert Lahr, Virginia O’Brien and Rags Ragland. Also, as part of the “show within a show” is a wonderful musical acrobatic routine by Miriam LaVelle, and Virginia O’Brien singing the hit song Say That We’re Sweethearts Again. Also for fans of musicals are several numbers by Spike Jones and His City Slickers, and by Vaughn Monroe and His Orchestra.
Songs in Meet the People
- Meet the People
- In Times Like These
- I Can’t Dance (I Got Ants in My Pants)
- Der Fuehrer’s Face
- A Life on the Ocean Wave
- Heave Ho
- I Like to Recognize the Tune
- Say That We’re Sweethearts Again
- It’s Smart to Be People
The Commander (Bert Lahr): You must come up and launch with me sometime.
Monte Rowland: Then just what is it you want, Mr. Swanson?
William ‘Swanee’ Swanson (Dick Powell): The show I wrote. It has a point of view, not just a view of points.
William ‘Swanee’ Swanson (Dick Powell): Yeah, I know where to reach you – back in 1912, under a ton a stale ideas.
William ‘Swanee’ Swanson (Dick Powell): But it’s not just me alone; its John too, its like a couple of fellas in a partnership in the corner grocery store.
Julie Hampton (Lucille Ball): You know, maybe you should be in the grocery business!
William ‘Swanee’ Swanson (Dick Powell): [Hearing the cheers of the crowd who’ve been promised a kiss from the beautiful star] You hear that? That’s the voice of the people!
Julie Hampton (Lucille Ball): [Sardonically] Sounds more like the call of the wild.
Julie Hampton (Lucille Ball): [after kissing hundreds of shipyard workers] Now I know how a trumpeteer feels!
William ‘Swanee’ Swanson (Dick Powell): [Referring to his jalopy] I know this looks like a traveling scrap heap, but it’s really poetry on wheels.
Julie Hampton (Lucille Ball): [Dryly, as the engine makes grinding noises] I see what you mean.
William ‘Swanee’ Swanson (Dick Powell): [Annoyed] Any show of mine has to stand on its own legs and not Julie Hampton’s!
Trivia for Meet the People
- In a radio interview, Spike Jones stated that the ape that plays Hitler is the same ape that appears in the Tarzan movies.
- This movie was shown overseas to servicemen before it was released in the United States.
- Daws Butler, the voice actor for Hanna Barbera cartoon characters, patterned the voice of the lion Snagglepuss after Bert Lahr, who played the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz. Butler took Snagglepuss’s catchphrase “Heavens to Mergatroid” from Bert Lahr’s having said it in the movie Meet the People.
- A further Lane/Harburg song, Thank You, Columbus was recorded but not used. Song of the Bayou by Rube Bloom was also planned for inclusion, but not used.