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She was excellent as an additional cast member in just about all her movies. She was drop dead gorgeous in the 1930s and 1940s. 'The Dark Corner' is one of my favorites, it had all the elements I love in a b/w movie. I hope TCM plays it some day.

 

One of the IMDb comments on this film said that Lucy could have become a 'noir icon' if she wanted, and I agree. However, she was smart and had drive unusual for a woman in her day, and wanted more. She was da brains of her outfit, and did quite well for herself. At a cost, I'm sure, but there ya go.

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Gosh, there isn't a Lucy Ball movie that I don't like...she was a fantastic actress who could hold her own be it Drama, Comedy, or a Musical. Wow!

 

Two movies that I haven't seen listed yet that are particular favorites of mine are "Forever Darling", which was a neat little Fantasy/Comedy flick with some hilarious routines with Lucy and Desi, and "Mame", which I actually prefer over the Ros Russell version. ML

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Yes, classicsfan, 'Forever Darling' was on yesterday. I wondered about James Mason as the angel (I don't like James Mason) but you say it was good?

 

Lucy as 'Mame'? Ewwww, no, I didn't like the 'old' Lucy, not a bit. Then again, I didn't like the 'old' Roz Russell, either. My brain is permanently set to the 1930/1940 timeframe.

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Well, Stoney, we all have our personal tastes. I find James Mason to be handsome, with a voice that is also attractive to me, and can easily understand how other women would find him attractive, not to mention an excellent actor!

 

One of the things that gives Lucille Ball a very high status among my "favorites" is how nicely she was able to make the transition from very early Classics, to movies that are more "contemporary", which I think that her work in "Mame" (among many others) demonstrates...at least for me. Although I'm here because of my strong love for the Classics from the 30's and 40's, there have been more than a few actors/actresses who started out in Silents, and were still a powerful draw in films of the more recent years, and I love being able to follow them through their entire careers. Just imagine what we would have missed had the lovely Bette Davis stopped making movies in the 40's when she was still young and pretty! ;)ML

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Oh, I like Lucy as Mame...because for me, growing up with her on television every day...she WAS an Auntie Mame like character to me, and I would have loved to spend time with her - well her character if NOT Lucy herself....

 

FOREVER DARLING (we saw it at the drive-in - Lucy is SO beautiful and well dressed...and Desi looks great too. But knowing their history...and their future, I just always cry when he sings the title song to her....

 

Yup...she WAS the real deal. As I said in my review of MAME over at Epinions....when she gets on the plane at the end of the movie, I like to think of her as riding clear up to heaven...she wasn't earthbound as we are...she was one of the special ones....Doris Day is another!

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"Mame" is a very bad film indeed and certainly doesn't hold a candle to Rosalind Russell 's version of the film. But for Lucy's hit TV series, her film career would have been forgotten. However, many of her films are in color which seems to be the main criteria for this year's stars of the month. What's next for TCM? Commercials?

 

 

Ariel

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I wonder how many of you realized that yesterday was actually Lucille Ball's birthday and she would have been 93 years old.

How appropriate it was for TCM to devote a full day to her films which I enjoyed.

 

And Ariel I don't mind watching lush Technicolor films on TCM especially from the 1940s, '50s and '60s.

As far as commercials go...bite your tongue.

 

Mongo

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Ariel, if it's your personal opinion that Lucy's "Mame" was a "very bad film", I can accept that although I find it hard to understand why you feel this way.

 

But, to say that had it not been for her "I Love Lucy" TV series that her film career "would have been forgotten" seems like a silly and overly "harsh" comment for you to make. After watching many of her movies yesterday, even some I'd not seen before, it seems to me that she wasn't forgotten by TCM, and many of us here, who thoroughly enjoyed the day of her varied films. For sure, my Thanks go to TCM for their continued great programming, and features like "Summer Under the Stars" that give us a day like yesterday's Lucille Ball movies....all of them! ML

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Ariel...just a couple of things. You can have your opinion of MAME...and yes Rosalind Russell was Auntie Mame - her performance filmed after YEARS of doing the role on Broadway and on tour was set in stone.

 

BUT remember Lucy and Desi started their tv show so they could spend some time together. She was still in demand for movies...and in fact was up for a leading role in THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH when she got pregnant.

 

Lucy gave up the movies for TV (first radio of course), but she could have continued in movies as long as she wanted to.

 

I forgot it was her birthday....but of course. Happy Birthday, Lucy!

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There's a pretty good biography of Ball by Kathleen Brady which you should read. Her comment about Lucy's transition to TV seems quite accurate. Brady said:

 

"Despite having been groomed by MGM and showcased in comedies at Columbia, Lucille had never ascended to the first ranks of stardom. Now thirty nine, she had little left to risk by going into television, particularly if by doing so she could keep her husband home."

 

Brady's comment on Mame:

 

"Mame was a flop, and even she knew she had been photographed in such soft focus that she had been rendered ridiculous. "

 

 

Ariel

 

 

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Why would you even THINK that I had not read the Brady bio of Lucy?

 

Before you set yourself up as an expert on all things Lucy, consider who you might be speaking to.

 

Brady's bio of Ball was good - but of course Stefan Kanfer's MOST recent book "Ball of Fire" published just last spring also had some terrific stories she didn't include. And Lee Tannen's "I Loved Lucy" is probably one of the most personal of the books written about her.

 

You said without her tv show, Lucille Ball's movie career would have been forgotten and I just couldn't let that stand. She was at a crossroads for sure, but she wasn't "finished" in the movies. She and Desi started the show to save their marriage.

 

As for MAME - think what you will, but don't try to convince me. Was it perfect? No, but Lucy gave it a good try. It was probably a mistake to take on the role, but she had a whole lot of professionals in the business who advised her to do so - in fact they postponed filming for a year when she broke her leg. She was NO Rosalind Russell...I agreed to that. Russell is MAME DENNIS. But Lucy was certainly as good if not better in the musical than Angela Lansbury onstage. Have you heard that cast album? LOL.

 

Give Lucy a break...and don't lecture me on Miss Ball.

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Since I don't know anything about you, I have no idea what Lucy biographies you have read. However, the fact that Lucy had a less than sterling film career and that she really made her name in TV, is such common knowledge that I am surprised that you would argue about it.

 

 

Ariel

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I also don't see in any of my posts that I said she didn't make her name in television.

 

Of course she did - don't put words in my posts. I just took exception to YOUR opinion that Lucille Ball's film work would have been forgotten if she hadn't moved to television.

 

We will never know, will we? Well, I mean WE won't. YOU will because you know EVERYTHING!

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I came across this at Kathleen Brady's Web Site, also taken from her book about Lucille Ball this morning and I would like to share it with you:

******************************************************

Lucille

The Life of Lucille Ball

 

The matchless silent film star Buster Keaton recognized Lucille Ball?s genius for physical comedy in the late 1930s and early 1940s when RKO and then MGM had her playing showgirls and gangsters? molls. After MGM fired her, Keaton persuaded Harry Cohn to hire her for the comedy unit of Columbia Pictures.

 

At Columbia, Lucille hung out at The Boors Nest, the office Keaton shared with his associate Ed Sedgwick, who was later godfather to Lucille?s children.

The following excerpt from pages 164-165 of Lucille, published by Billboard Books, is about this pivotal moment when her career seemed to be failing, but in fact The God of Comedy was claiming Lucille Ball for his own:

 

?The jokes, reminiscences, and reenactment of well-loved movie bits that filled the Boors Nest were more than an exercise in nostalgia. For the aging men, they kept the withering muscles of their comedy in shape. For Lucille, they provided informal professional training. Keaton was a master of props and sight gags, an amateur inventor who built replicas of the Golden Gate Bridge and miniature railroad trestle that won first prize at a hobby show. In his films, the put-upon, sad sack character he played relentlessly battled motorcycles, trains, steamships and other developments of the modern age. Up in the Boors Nest, Keaton taught Lucille how to command props and how to throw herself into physical maneuvers without hurting herself. Speedy, rambunctious Lucille learned to slow down and refine action. Keaton drilled her in the mantra that was the foundation of her fabled comic timing: Listen, React, then Act. She learned to hear whatever another character said or did, respond to it and then perform an appropriate action. If, as so often happened in her comedy, a boat or barrel sprung a leak, she discovered it, gasped and plugged the spouting hole, sometimes by sitting on it. Keaton watched her from the corners of the set while she was filming and later made suggestions on how she might improve.

 

Miss Grant Takes Richmond, her first film under her new Columbia agreement, showed that Keaton?s belief in her was justified. Lucille played a public-spirited secretary, a character so ditsy that watching her is like standing before a photographer?s developing tray and seeing a photograph of Lucy Ricardo gradually emerge.?

 

*********************************************************

It appears to me (ML) that Miss Ball, with the help of Buster Keaton, made a big turn in her career as early as 1949 when she made "Miss Grant Takes Richmond" with Columbia Pictures. There were many movies that followed this one in which Ball continued to polish her comedic acting skills prior to going into TV with Desi....enough of them that we have a marvelous body of her work on film well ahead of the "I Love Lucy" TV series, and certainly enough that she would never be "forgotten", or remembered only for "I Love Lucy". ML

 

 

 

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Well, actually after Miss Grant Takes Richmond, Lucy made Easy Living which was a drama and then appeared in a cameo in a Rosalind Russell film. She then did Fancy Pants with Bob Hope and the Fuller Brush Girl. She then was forced into The Magic Carpet by Harry Cohn (head of Columbia) who was trying to break his contract with her. She then went into TV.

 

 

Ariel

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I'm surprised to read that someone is disputing the merit of Lucille Ball's film career. It's true that during the 30's and 40's she wasn't considered a "Major Star" the same way that others like Judy Garland and Lana Turner were, but she certainly was a "Star" and held her own in Hollywood. She had many starring roles, most notably in "The Fuller Brush Girl," "Dubarry Was a Lady," "Best Foot Forward," "Meet the People" - remember that these were all movies where she STARRED, and received top billing. She also co-starred in many big time movies, like "The Big Street" and her successful collaborations with Bob Hope, "Sorrowful Jones," and "Fancy Pants."

 

It's true that Lucy was a little past her prime when she made "Mame" but she still did an awesome job, and was definitely suited for the role. By that time in her career, she had become America's Auntie Mame, due to her legendary career in T.V. AND movies, up to that point. I really can't think of anyone else who could've pulled it off, except Angela Lansbury, since she did the role on Broadway, but even she didn't have the kind of charm and grace that Lucy had.

 

Some other good books about her in addition to those already mentioned are "Lucy in the Afternoon" by Jim Brochu - it's another intimate memoir along the same lines as "I Loved Lucy" that provides an insiders look into her later years. The book "Desilu - The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz" is another good read, by Tom Gilbert and Coyne Steven Sanders (I think)

And let's not forget Lucy's own love letter to all of us - the autobiography that she wrote (or recorded onto tape) that was released a few years ago. It's fascinating to hear things from her own perspective, and in the book she speaks very casually, as if she's having a conversation with you.

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