The life of Lucille Ball is one of triumphant, trailblazing success for women worldwide. Being the first female to own her own production studio, Desilu Studios, she made her way to the belle-of-the-ball in Hollywood with her hit show I Love Lucy. Prior to watching the movie, I had no idea of Lucille’s involvement in the production, direction and creative genius in the I Love Lucy show. It seems she created the show with her then husband, Cuban Desi Arnaz, to try and help better her marriage. As I Love Lucy dominated the TV ratings chart, it seems that unfortunately and simultaneously, their marriage was falling apart. From their first meeting as a couple to them running such a high powered show at CBS, the show itself along with the relationship in general broke many boundaries in comedy, showing us all what a real marriage in entertainment could look like.
Being the Ricardos is a biopic drama film about the life and love of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, with their infamous reputation and careers in Hollywood before our time when things were simple, but less transparent in Hollywood.
As Lucy began to climb the Hollywood ladder, it was only a matter a time until the news media blasted her by digging far enough into her past to find a blemish. Well, what a surprise! Walter Winchell’s radio show and the national Herald newspaper printed the story that Lucille Ball a member of the communist party. At the time of patriotic pride in democracy, this was a major crime and many accused of communism were jailed or thrown out of the country.
It turns out Lucille Ball looked up to an uncle of hers back when she was growing up, and checked the communist box in her voting rights as a 20 year-old girl. Not realizing the consequences ahead of time, she was defamed and ostracized for checking that communist box. Desi her husband however comes to the rescue when in front of a studio audience calls J. Edgar Hoover, America’s president at the time, and has him say that Lucille Ball is not a communist and that the newspapers had lied. This was all before taping in front of a live studio audience, and this helped maintain their positive reputation as the show as they say MUST GO ON.
With amazing rating for years, and trailblazing through Hollywood as a woman, Lucille Ball had one hell of a career.
Jess Oppenheimer is the Executive Producer in the show, Becoming the Ricardos. And Lucille Ball is very clear when he says, ‘I’m not a communist but I’ve never been a communist. ‘ Now even though they had a hell of a time proving to the world that they were not communists, all the sponsors of the show, major ones including CBS and Phillip Morris cigarettes. Heck Desi Arnaz actually served in the military for a few years and was known for absolutely loving America.
Don Glass was directing the I Love Lucy show during this horrible week of bad press, and Lucy was beside herself. Lucy was a stickler for the writing, direction and physical comedy of the show, and most of it was improved by her own merit. That specific week of the communist accusations was a tough one for all, and during the film it segues into the real people behind that fateful week and it is so interesting to see how the movie bounces back and forth from real life and the day-to-day filming operations of Lucy and Desi’s life.
The main issue with Lucille Balls and Desi Arnaz’s marriage is that hecheated on Lucille nightly. Desi had a nightly booking at the Ciro club as he loved to orchestrate and play Cuban music. At one point Lucy asks why she can’t attend and he says, ‘Learn how to play the drum at Ciro’s restaurant and you can see me more.’ Desi ultimately invites Lucy officially to the Ciro’s Club to see him sing and play the bongos. Lucy comes in a fabulous gold dress and a white mink. Although Lucy makes an appearance in real life at the club, she eventually finds proof that Desi is cheating on her with other woman. Depressed and feeling worthless, she goes on with the I Love Lucy show even after finding out Desi is cheating on her. Meanwhile she also is a new mom managing it all, and the entire audience empathizes her hurt and feels her pain.
On the sidelines, we see that the I Love Lucy show has Ethel and Rick as the couple that lives next door to them. Their best friends on and off screen, Ethel is shown to be more of the not-so-pretty friend and critics start talking about it publicly making her very insecure. Ethel seems to start eating less to look prettier, and Madelyn comes in to serve her with eggs and bacon. She gets pissed because she finds out that Lucy is trying to make her eat more. They then start to get jealous of each other, but eventually make up and become friends again as they know as women in Hollywood they need to embrace and support each other.
It was only 70 years or so ago, but Lucy was actually the first woman to show her pregnancy on a TV show. At that time, TV was more conservative and didn’t want to see the wife and husband sleeping in the same beds. Lucy gets pregnant and the producers think that they may have to plug the show. The two sleep in separate beds in the show, so the producers say it’s not possible that Lucy would be pregnant. It shows how far American television has come!
My favorite episode of the I Love Lucy show was her stomping on the grapes at a vineyard in Italy. The other favorite episode for me was the episode where Ethel and her husband are fighting and Lucy invites them to dinner without them knowing. They both have to eat together and figure out their fight at the same time. It was funny and I like how Lucy played the mediator in the show, mainly because the couple thinks they are there for a blind date and it ends up being each other,.
The sets of this movie were surreal as it really transported the audience to a time we had never seen before. I didn’t think Nicole Kidman could play it off but she really did a great job imitating Lucille Ball with her smokey, raspy voice and know-it-all spunk.
Being the Ricardos could be up for an Emmy and an Oscar this year, what did you think about the film? Did you like it?
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