With hilarious clips, fascinating insights and historical context, this documentary complements Aaron Sorkin’s Being the Ricardos

Reviews by Joyce Glasser Lucie and Desi (February 11, 2022) Cert PG, 103 minutes Amazon Prime

Be the RicardosAaron Sorkin’s 2021 drama, starring Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem, about the couple who created the iconic sitcom, i love lucy, was frustrating. We had enough in mind about the couple and topics like sexism, racism and politics in the early years of television to pique our interest without satisfying it.

Now, Amy Poehler’s (with writer Mark Monroe) documentary fills in all the blanks, fleshing out the real actors and contextualizing their accomplishments historically and artistically, at first lumbering but increasingly compelling. The film also offers fascinating insights that help us appreciate this incredibly dynamic duo.

On the subject of racism: In 1949, with the advent of television, CBS wanted to do a pilot based on Lucille Ball’s radio program my favorite man – her foray into comedy – but Lucy’s approval was conditional on Desi starring as they wanted to start a family. CBS declined as a multiracial couple was unknown on national television in 1949. Desi came up with the idea of ​​taking Lucy out on the streets to prove the network wrong. The rave reviews convinced CBS to take the plunge.

Sexism was rampant. Lucy became pregnant at the end of her first successful season i love lucy, and the network wanted to delay the second. Since the couple insisted not to mention phenomenal Nielson ratings and an Emmy, the show continued with a pregnant Lucy, but the word pregnant was never mentioned.

As for politics, the documentary complements Sorkin’s film and explains the dramatic story of how Lucy, with Desi’s brilliant diplomacy, public relations and financial muscle, defeated communist rap (a holdover from her grandfather), with J Edgar Hoover himself declassifying her live on TV. After the announcement, the show went on.

Carol Burnett and Bette Midler, two of the finest and most groundbreaking female comedians of the late 20th century – both repaying their personal gratitude to Ball, who mentored emerging talent late in her career – appear throughout the film. They remind us that in the 1930s and 40s there were almost no female actresses, especially pretty, dramatic actresses like Ball, who were brave enough to make themselves look ugly or goofy and do physical comedy. Fantastic clips illustrate the extent to which Burnett’s statement “she was fearless in her comedy” is true.

Ball is never mentioned in the same league as Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton, but Keaton taught her physical comedy and the importance of props. With Desi’s budget only allowing for one take (Chaplin needed dozens), Lucy perfected her routines through hours of grueling rehearsals. Ball’s fame, creative instincts, and wealth rivaled Chaplin’s — at least in the television world.

We see how brazenly topical skits reflected on the couple’s married life in a way that had live and television audiences of up to 20 million viewers responding. When the narrative skirts the subject of Desi’s infidelity (her daughter, Lucie Arnaz Luckinbill, says only, “My parents hurt each other – he with his actions, and she with his words,” a skit in which a journalist interviews an initially jaded Lucy Her worries with a handsome husband on the street are more revealing.

Lucy’s account of her early life, recorded on 20 tapes discovered by the filmmakers, differs from other factual versions. But there are similarities in that Lucy’s father died at the age of 27 when Lucy was three and her mother was pregnant with Fred. The two children moved to live with their Puritan grandparents in upstate New York. Fred tells of a hunting accident for which her “good” grandfather was wrongly sued and the family was uprooted. Lucy seems to have rebelled.

In 1928, at the age of 17, Lucy made her way in New York City with a Protestant work ethic, not as a showgirl, which she failed at, but as a model and then an actress. In a stroke of luck, she was sent to Hollywood where, with hard work, curiosity about how the business worked, and dramatic looks (red hair, big blue eyes, pale skin, good features, and a great body), she became the Queen of the World B ( Movie).

Meanwhile, Desiderio Arnaz, the Cuban nightclub singer and drummer who learned the trade in Miami from famed Spanish bandleader Xavier Cugat, was gaining a reputation as the king of rhumba. With his good looks, he briefly switched to film Do the conga and then 1940s too many girls. Later, daughter Lucie reveals her father’s rather mysterious origins as the son of politicians with ties to President Machado and heir to the Bacardi rum empire, who escaped the revolution with only their shirts on their backs. Desi, suddenly a penniless refugee at the age of 14, felt at home nowhere else.

In 1940, Ball was cast as an engineer too many girls and caught the attention of her co-star, who gasped, “Oh man, what a woman,” upon seeing her. Desi asked her with the line, “How would you like to learn rhumba?” She did, and after a whirlwind of publicity (we see some great home videos), they got married.

In the first nine years of their marriage, between the army and Desi’s tour, they were only together for six months. Still, they wasted no time and brought their respective families to their homes. They each supported their mothers for the rest of their lives. After such a long separation, Lucy and Desi finally wanted to do something i love lucy to stay together in Hollywood and start a family, whichever was their intention.

Poehler shows us a recording of the original 1948 television pilot script for i love lucy written by Jess Oppenheimer (the lead author of Fanny Brice’s The Baby Snooks show until she parted ways with CBS over pay). The film pays tribute to other pioneers of early television such as writers Madelyn Davis and Bob Carroll Jr. and Marc Daniels, who directed the first 38 episodes i love lucyAmerica’s number one program.

The irony is that the success of the show, designed to keep the family together, drove them apart. The film delves much of its time into the couple’s connected careers after the sitcom ended — and their marriage. Lucy pioneered another controversial sitcom with Vivian Vance (who played Ethel on the show) about two single women with children living together. Both Lucy and Desi have had long, happy second marriages.

Desi drank heavily to escape the pressures of the 70-hour workweek and went on to become one of the top creative producers in America. Through the couple’s teamwork, five years after pioneering live studio recording with multiple film cameras i love lucyDesilu Studios bought RKO Studios and gave us the original star trek, Impossible Mission, The Untouchablesthe Dick Van Dyke Show and more.

With hilarious clips, fascinating insights and historical context, this documentary complements Aaron Sorkin’s Being the Ricardos

Source link With hilarious clips, fascinating insights and historical context, this documentary complements Aaron Sorkin’s Being the Ricardos

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