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Lucille Ball's Film Work


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While Lucille Ball is primarily known for her work on television, beginning with her iconic role of Lucy Ricardo on I LOVE LUCY , she made a number of films prior to becoming a television legend, as well as some after she became loved around the world as "Lucy."

 

I admit that I have only seen a few of  her films. In BEST FOOT FORWARD she plays a divaesque version of herself (her character is a movie star named Lucille Ball). 

In THE BIG STREET, she plays a selfish nightclub singer who treats the doting Henry Fonda like dirt.

 

For those who have seen many of Lucille Ball's movies, how do feel that her work in film compares to her work on television?

 

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I like her film work.  Guess I've seen most of it.  She's rarely anything like the wacky character of her television shows.  By the way, I always felt that Lucy and Heddy Lamar could play sisters.  Without Heddy's accent or with if, if Lucy were able.

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I think Miss Grant Takes Richmond would be the closest to "I Love Lucy" in terms of script content and the character of Ellen Grant (as compared to Lucy Ricardo - Ellen wasn't zany like Lucy, but she also "took matters into her own hands").  I've seen The Fuller Brush Girl but didn't think it was as funny.  My favorite film of hers that shows her acting skills is The Big Street, a drama.

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I like her film work.  Guess I've seen most of it.  She's rarely anything like the wacky character of her television shows.  By the way, I always felt that Lucy and Heddy Lamar could play sisters.  Without Heddy's accent or with if, if Lucy were able.

she was pretty wacky in that new moon trailer trying to fix nicky his salad for his ragu of beef dinner.

 

"ragu of beef?..I'm your boy!"

 

:lol: 

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While Lucille Ball is primarily known for her work on television, beginning with her iconic role of Lucy Ricardo on I LOVE LUCY , she made a number of films prior to becoming a television legend, as well as some after she became loved around the world as "Lucy."

 

I admit that I have only seen a few of  her films. In BEST FOOT FORWARD she plays a divaesque version of herself (her character is a movie star named Lucille Ball). 

In THE BIG STREET, she plays a selfish nightclub singer who treats the doting Henry Fonda like dirt.

 

For those who have seen many of Lucille Ball's movies, how do feel that her work in film compares to her work on television?

 

tumblr_lqj6zftxjd1r11jzio1_500.gif

Aconincidence that you started a post on Lucy in the movies. The city I live in has a population of around 25,000. When I find an opportunity to do something interesting I take advantage. Monday night I began a course at our local university of an appreciation of The Best Of "I Love Lucy". The professor was wonderful and very knowledgeable. We watched three episodes of the show. LUCY THINKS RICKY IS TRYING TO MURDER HER, THE DIET, and LUCY DOES A TV COMMERCIAL. I remembered this episode the best because the commercial product was Vitameatavegamin. The class discussed these episodes, and it was very interesting and nostalgic. The course started me to think about Lucy in the movies. In 1942 Lucy and Henry Fonda starred in THE BIG STREET. I did not especially care for the movie, and the only films of Lucy that I recalled enjoying were WITHOUT LOVE 1945 and Miss Grant Takes Richmond 1949. The professor told me he liked THE DARK CORNER 1946. Since taking the film noir course, I decided to watch this noir. THE DARK CORNER was a very good film noir directed by Henry Hathaway. Lucy plays Kathleen a secretary to private investigator Mark Stevens. Kathleen helps her boss clear himself of a bum rap, and she is always there when he needs her. The murderer is discovered, and the case is solved. LURED 1947 is a early film noir of Douglas Sirk. I watched this film because of the high praise George Sanders has received on these boards. Lucy plays a taxi dancer stuck in London when the show she was in closed after a few performances. A murderer has put ads in the newspaper in the form of a poem requesting young women for various positions. A friend of Lucy`s at the dance club disappears after answering a help wanted notice, and Scotland Yard requests Lucy`s help. They chose her because she wanted to leave the club, and Lucy is beautiful in this film. Charles Coburn, who is helping in the investigation, tells Lucy they she needs to answer the want ads that look suspicious. The work is dangerous, but Lucy does her best. She meets a strange character Boris Karloff who is frightening but harmless. Finally Lucy meets a nice man George Sanders, and his lawyer. I appreciated that George Sanders was finally cast as a decent man. The murderer is discovered, and Lucy has found her soulmate. I would recommend watching these two films to gain an appreciation of Lucy before she became Lucy Ricardo.

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I like Lucille Ball a lot and have probably seen most of her movies. I'm reading a book about Bob Hope and they seemed to work well together. I particularly like The Facts of Life, where they play acquaintances who decide they're in love and decide to leave their spouses. It's a very adult movie where both Lucille & Bob downplay the wackiness for a little more serious look at marriage & adultery. There are laughs, but it's very good.

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Thank you for starting such a great thread Holden! As many of you may know (or have noticed), Lucille Ball is one of my absolute favorite people of all time, and I'm not just basing this opinion on her television work.  I Love Lucy is my favorite television show of all time, but I believe that Lucy's film work deserves to be recognized as well.  She appeared in so many films that I enjoy. 

 

Excuse me while I geek out for a second and talk about all my favorite Lucille Ball films:

 

 (I apologize for being verbose) 

 

The Long Long Trailer (1954).  Even though this episode is basically one long I Love Lucy episode, it is hilarious and in my top 10 favorite movies of all time.  I've seen this movie so many times that I'm pretty much able to recite the dialogue with the film (I don't do this of course, because it'd be annoying if I wasn't watching alone).  This film features many hilarious Lucille Ball physical comedy scenes.  The most manic scene is where Lucy is attempting to cook dinner in the trailer while Desi drives to their next stop.  Desi is singing loudly and is unable to hear Lucy's pleas for him to stop, nor does he look back to see her in the window.  This scene is chaos and it's hilarious.  My favorite scene in the film however, is an earlier scene.  Lucy and Desi decide to take an old logging road because they want to be somewhere secluded (the night before, Desi ended up having to give an impromptu party for the trailer park while Lucy was asleep.  The trailer park hostess, thinking she was helping an injured Lucy, gave her sleeping pills).  The trailer is all whopper-jawed and Desi is unable to straighten it out.  It has also started pouring outside.  Lucy ingeniously manages to rig coat hangers and forks to keep all the pans on the stove and she cooks dinner.  Later, when they decide to go to bed, Desi is fast asleep on his bed (his is on the side that's leaning toward the ground).  Lucy, whose bed is at the top of the slant, literally keeps falling out of bed.  After taking a huge leap onto the bed, the jack supporting the trailer gives way, and Lucy goes flying out the door and into a huge mud swamp.  Desi, woken by Lucy's scream, pokes his head out the door and says: "What's the matter honey? Can't you sleep?"

 

The Affairs of Annabel (1938). This is a lesser known Lucille Ball film and only seems to end up on TCM once a year.  Unfortunately, it is currently not on DVD.  I am hoping that WB Archives will release it in the future.  This film co-stars Jack Oakie.  This film is one of the earliest showcases for Ball's skill at physical comedy.  She portrays an actress who is put through one crazy publicity scheme after another by her agent, portrayed by Oakie.  At the beginning of the film, we're greeted by Ball who is completing a 30 day stint in prison-- a stunt organized by Oakie to promote her film about a woman in prison.  Finally a free woman, Ball walks out of the pokey expecting to see mobs of photographers and people.  However, there's nobody there except Oakie.  The main action of the film involves Oakie getting Ball a job as a maid to promote her new film where Ball portrays a maid.  The comedy involves the family that Ball works with, her ineptitude at actually performing her maid duties and the family eventually figuring out who Ball actually is.  There is a sequel to this film made later in the year, Annabel Takes a Tour, but it is not as good as the first film.  Apparently RKO wanted to create a series of 'Annabel' films, but the project was scrapped when Jack Oakie wanted more money.  

 

Stage Door (1937). While this isn't a Lucille Ball starring vehicle, this film is one of my favorites.  This is a great ensemble film featuring a fantastic cast.  Aside from Ball, the film also features Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Eve Arden, Ann Miller, Adolphe Menjou, just to name a few.  Lucy doesn't have any physical comedy scenes, but this film was a showcase for her ability to give smart quips and also demonstrate some dramatic skills.  She more than holds her own with Hepburn and Rogers. 

 

Five Came Back (1939).  This is a straight dramatic film, one that I think shows another side of Ball's acting skills.  This is another ensemble picture and another one in which Ball shines.  Her character is a departure from Ball's normal characters (up to that time), she plays a bit of a floozy.  This film was a milestone in Ball's career and led to her getting better roles. 

 

Dance, Girl Dance (1940).  Ball plays another floozy in this film, this time a burlesque dancer known as "Bubbles." She is the antagonist to Maureen O'Hara's protagonist.  Ball has a lot of great moments in this film: Her burlesque dance, hiring O'Hara to be her stooge, her catfight with O'Hara*, her scene in the courtroom where she shows off her scratches and black eye.  This is a fun film and I highly recommend it. 

 

*Ball was filming the catfight scene the day she met Desi Arnaz on the set of her next film, Too Many Girls.  She arrived on the set in costume--torn dress, black eye, her hair a mess.  Arnaz was not impressed.  It was only until the met again later in the evening, after Ball had cleaned up, that Arnaz fell for her. 

 

The Dark Corner (1946).  Lucille Ball in a film noir! This was a great movie.  I thought Ball performed her scenes very well, even if I found her co-star, Mark Stevens, to be a bit of a bore.  Ball and the great supporting cast (Clifton Webb, William Bendix, Kurt Kreuger, etc.) made this film worth the wait and watch.  I'm looking forward to her other noir, Lured, which is airing in November. 

 

Miss Grant Takes Richmond (1949).  This film features Ball in a role similar to that of her most famous role, Lucy Ricardo, which would come two years later.  Ball portrays a wishful secretary, who unfortunately is awful.  The hunky William Holden co-stars as a man running a real estate company which is really a front for his horse track gambling racket.  Holden comes to the secretarial school that Ball attends looking for a secretary whom he feels wouldn't be smart enough to figure out his scam and could add to the illusion of being a legit real estate firm.  He sees Ball failing miserably at typing and chooses her.  Lucy, of course, overjoyed at being hired on doesn't realize what is really going on even when Holden's clients call and come in placing bets.  She just assumes that it's real estate jargon.  Ball ends up getting Holden on the hook to develop a real subdivision and even lines him up with real homebuyers.  He has to comply, otherwise, the jig is up with his bookie business.  Hilarity ensues when Lucy and the female homebuyers move the strings marking the walls of their respective properties.  The concrete crew comes in the next day to pour concrete along the strings, only to realize quickly that something was wrong.  Wanting to make their bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms and bathrooms bigger, the ladies end up making their homes overlap one another, making the bathrooms HUGE while making the living rooms tiny, and a variety of other hilarious problems.  Of course, Lucy eventually figures out what Holden is up to and she concocts a scheme to get back at him.  Her scheme is very reminiscent of something that Lucy Ricardo did in an episode of I Love Lucy.  

 

Yours, Mine and Ours (1968).  Co-starring Henry Fonda and a precursor to The Brady Bunch, this film features Ball as a widow with eight children and Fonda as a widower with ten.  I am usually not a fan of children actors, but the children actors in this film were competent and some were actually funny, like the kid that played Phillip--the poor kid that couldn't reach the food at the dinner table.  Ball and Fonda make a nice couple, even if I think both of them are a smidge too old for their roles, they make it believable and are funny along the way.  Lucille Ball has a hilarious drunk scene where she ends up laughing and crying uncontrollably and pours milk down the front of a poor unsuspecting child.  My favorite scene is the scene when the kids are getting their room and bathroom assignments.  For some reason, the kids being told "You're now 10, Red, C" (for example) cracked me up.  I also like the scene in the crowded nightclub when Ball's slip falls down and her fake eyelash falls into her cocktail. 

 

Ball has quite a few "stinkers" on her resume, but I've found that even if I'm not a fan of the film as a whole, usually Lucy was the best part.  I could be biased, but I don't believe so.  In her autobiography, "Love, Lucy" Ball states that in the beginning of her career, she never turned down roles, no matter how bad the film sounded.  She stated that even if the film was terrible, she always learned something new about the filmmaking process and she just wanted to learn.  That's a reason she appears in so many uncredited and bit parts at the very beginning of her career.  She sought out as many of these small jobs as she could, because she just wanted to learn about the business.  She shines in many of these tiny roles.  I think it's a testament to her talent and natural charm.  Even in a film that I absolutely loathed, like Ziegfeld Follies, even though she has no speaking parts, Ball's performance was one of the most memorable.  The film Next Time I Marry is not very good, but Ball's part as the heiress trying to find a husband quickly in order to secure her inheritance, was funny. 

 

Sorry this was so long, what can I say? I Love Lucy! (okay that was cheesy, lol).

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Aconincidence that you started a post on Lucy in the movies. The city I live in has a population of around 25,000. When I find an opportunity to do something interesting I take advantage. Monday night I began a course at our local university of an appreciation of The Best Of "I Love Lucy". The professor was wonderful and very knowledgeable. We watched three episodes of the show. LUCY THINKS RICKY IS TRYING TO MURDER HER, THE DIET, and LUCY DOES A TV COMMERCIAL. I remembered this episode the best because the commercial product was Vitameatavegamin. The class discussed these episodes, and it was very interesting and nostalgic. The course started me to think about Lucy in the movies.

I can't tell you how jealous I am that you are taking a college course about I Love Lucy.  I wish this class was offered when I was in college, I would have aced it easily. 

 

I hope you end up watching more episodes as "the best of" I Love Lucy, of course, they're all wonderful, it'll be hard for the instructor to choose which ones to show.  I hope your professor steps outside of the box and shows some of the lesser known episodes but, in my opinion, some of the best of the series.  Of course, even a lesser I Love Lucy episode is better than 90% of the junk on TV nowadays.

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For those who have seen many of Lucille Ball's movies, how do feel that her work in film compares to her work on television?

 

tumblr_lqj6zftxjd1r11jzio1_500.gif

 

Another Lucille Ball fan here.  I love that picture of her.

 

As much as I enjoy seeing Lucille Ball in the movies, I enjoy her work on TV even more.  She really found her stride playing the role of Lucy Ricardo.  The role really showed off her strengths as a performer.  It seems that she was at her best when she was performing in front of an audience, which is why she loved doing radio and TV work. 

 

Speedracer5 made a great list of Lucille Ball's best movies.  I would add Lured, Sorrowful Jones and Best Foot Forward to the list.

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Jane Fonda, during her interview with Barbara Walters spoke about the film Yours, Mine and Ours. Jane said that her dad Henry was deeply in love with Lucy and that they were "very close" during the making of the film. I like Yours, Mine and Ours, not a fan of Big Street

 

No matter how many times over the years I've watched I Love Lucy episodes, and that's dozens and dozens, I still laugh almost to the point of tears during some of those episodes. I think I Love Lucy was the funniest show that's ever been on tv.

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No matter how many times over the years I've watched I Love Lucy episodes, and that's dozens and dozens, I still laugh almost to the point of tears during some of those episodes. I think I Love Lucy was the funniest show that's ever been on tv.

 

Very nicely stated. I agree 100%.

I am like speedracer-lite in that I am a huge Lucy (and Flynn) fan. I just visited the Lucy-Desi Museum in Jamestown-I recommend it to every Lucy fan. One museum centered on Lucy & Desi's performances & personal life. There was a room full of posters from Lucy's films, several I had never heard of or seen.

 

I don't like many Lucy films, I don't like her "sharing" comedy with Bob Hope or Henry Fonda as well as with Desi & the Mertz's on the TV show. Just something about the dynamics was absolutely perfect - well, Lucy dictated everything to allow her to SHINE. And very astute of the supporting cast to ALLOW that magic to happen.

 

She carried the show with the correct support, testament to her intelligence & talent.

 

I recently revisited the I LOVE LUCY episodes and find it amazing they still make me laugh heartedly, even though I know the lines by heart. She's really that good. And her beauty actually works for her.

 

Interesting comparison to Hedy Lamarr, I can see the resemblance. I think the only other actress with as much talent & intelligence as Lucy is Ginger Rogers-who also took every role offered and was talented enough to dance (and look great) with Astaire-when not really a dancer!

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speedracer5-- look for these underrated Lucille Ball films:

 

"Two Smart People"--(1946)--another film noir starring Lucy.  She's the best part of the film.

 

"Five Came Back"--(1939)--Not a noir, but a *** good adventure film.

 

"Valley of the Sun"--(1942)--ignored RKO comedy western.

 

"Twelve Crowded Hours"--(1939)--Runs just over an hour, a pre-noir ( is that a valid term?) starring Lucy.

 

"Seven Days Leave"--(1942) comedy with Lucy & Victor Mature--Mature has 1 week to marry Lucy so he can get $100,000.

 

Happy watching. :)

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Ms. Ball's TV character was intended to be far different than many of her film roles.

 

I never thought she was that bad of an actress, and not at all unattractive.  Why her film roles weren't better(in many cases) or why she didn't get further along(or up) , I don't know...

 

But she did her "wacky" TV role to perfection, and her smarts made her a force to reckon with in the business.  I can't recall a time when "I Love Lucy" wasn't on TV somewhere.  I grew up watching it, my KIDS also grew up watching it, and if THEY had kids, THEY'D likely be growing up watching it, too!  So.....

 

How'd that LORETTA YOUNG TV career go?  Or he STANWYCK one?  :D

 

See what I mean?  So, how do YOU measure success?

 

 

Sepiatone

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Ms. Ball's TV character was intended to be far different than many of her film roles.

 

I never thought she was that bad of an actress, and not at all unattractive.  Why her film roles weren't better(in many cases) or why she didn't get further along(or up) , I don't know...

 

But she did her "wacky" TV role to perfection, and her smarts made her a force to reckon with in the business.  I can't recall a time when "I Love Lucy" wasn't on TV somewhere.  I grew up watching it, my KIDS also grew up watching it, and if THEY had kids, THEY'D likely be growing up watching it, too!  So.....

 

How'd that LORETTA YOUNG TV career go?  Or he STANWYCK one?  :D

 

See what I mean?  So, how do YOU measure success?

 

 

Sepiatone

 

Not sure what point you're making related to Loretta Young and her TV career;  it was highly successful.   Her show ran for 8 years and it received very good ratings.    Stanwyck also did fine on T.V.      

 

Ok,  no women was as success in T.V. as Lucy but those two you mentioned were successful.

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Thank you for starting such a great thread Holden! As many of you may know (or have noticed), Lucille Ball is one of my absolute favorite people of all time, and I'm not just basing this opinion on her television work.  I Love Lucy is my favorite television show of all time, but I believe that Lucy's film work deserves to be recognized as well.  She appeared in so many films that I enjoy. 

 

Excuse me while I geek out for a second and talk about all my favorite Lucille Ball films:

 

 (I apologize for being verbose) 

 

The Long Long Trailer (1954).  Even though this episode is basically one long I Love Lucy episode, it is hilarious and in my top 10 favorite movies of all time.  I've seen this movie so many times that I'm pretty much able to recite the dialogue with the film (I don't do this of course, because it'd be annoying if I wasn't watching alone).  This film features many hilarious Lucille Ball physical comedy scenes.  The most manic scene is where Lucy is attempting to cook dinner in the trailer while Desi drives to their next stop.  Desi is singing loudly and is unable to hear Lucy's pleas for him to stop, nor does he look back to see her in the window.  This scene is chaos and it's hilarious.  My favorite scene in the film however, is an earlier scene.  Lucy and Desi decide to take an old logging road because they want to be somewhere secluded (the night before, Desi ended up having to give an impromptu party for the trailer park while Lucy was asleep.  The trailer park hostess, thinking she was helping an injured Lucy, gave her sleeping pills).  The trailer is all whopper-jawed and Desi is unable to straighten it out.  It has also started pouring outside.  Lucy ingeniously manages to rig coat hangers and forks to keep all the pans on the stove and she cooks dinner.  Later, when they decide to go to bed, Desi is fast asleep on his bed (his is on the side that's leaning toward the ground).  Lucy, whose bed is at the top of the slant, literally keeps falling out of bed.  After taking a huge leap onto the bed, the jack supporting the trailer gives way, and Lucy goes flying out the door and into a huge mud swamp.  Desi, woken by Lucy's scream, pokes his head out the door and says: "What's the matter honey? Can't you sleep?"

 

The Affairs of Annabel (1938). This is a lesser known Lucille Ball film and only seems to end up on TCM once a year.  Unfortunately, it is currently not on DVD.  I am hoping that WB Archives will release it in the future.  This film co-stars Jack Oakie.  This film is one of the earliest showcases for Ball's skill at physical comedy.  She portrays an actress who is put through one crazy publicity scheme after another by her agent, portrayed by Oakie.  At the beginning of the film, we're greeted by Ball who is completing a 30 day stint in prison-- a stunt organized by Oakie to promote her film about a woman in prison.  Finally a free woman, Ball walks out of the pokey expecting to see mobs of photographers and people.  However, there's nobody there except Oakie.  The main action of the film involves Oakie getting Ball a job as a maid to promote her new film where Ball portrays a maid.  The comedy involves the family that Ball works with, her ineptitude at actually performing her maid duties and the family eventually figuring out who Ball actually is.  There is a sequel to this film made later in the year, Annabel Takes a Tour, but it is not as good as the first film.  Apparently RKO wanted to create a series of 'Annabel' films, but the project was scrapped when Jack Oakie wanted more money.  

 

Stage Door (1937). While this isn't a Lucille Ball starring vehicle, this film is one of my favorites.  This is a great ensemble film featuring a fantastic cast.  Aside from Ball, the film also features Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Eve Arden, Ann Miller, Adolphe Menjou, just to name a few.  Lucy doesn't have any physical comedy scenes, but this film was a showcase for her ability to give smart quips and also demonstrate some dramatic skills.  She more than holds her own with Hepburn and Rogers. 

 

Five Came Back (1939).  This is a straight dramatic film, one that I think shows another side of Ball's acting skills.  This is another ensemble picture and another one in which Ball shines.  Her character is a departure from Ball's normal characters (up to that time), she plays a bit of a floozy.  This film was a milestone in Ball's career and led to her getting better roles. 

 

Dance, Girl Dance (1940).  Ball plays another floozy in this film, this time a burlesque dancer known as "Bubbles." She is the antagonist to Maureen O'Hara's protagonist.  Ball has a lot of great moments in this film: Her burlesque dance, hiring O'Hara to be her stooge, her catfight with O'Hara*, her scene in the courtroom where she shows off her scratches and black eye.  This is a fun film and I highly recommend it. 

 

*Ball was filming the catfight scene the day she met Desi Arnaz on the set of her next film, Too Many Girls.  She arrived on the set in costume--torn dress, black eye, her hair a mess.  Arnaz was not impressed.  It was only until the met again later in the evening, after Ball had cleaned up, that Arnaz fell for her. 

 

The Dark Corner (1946).  Lucille Ball in a film noir! This was a great movie.  I thought Ball performed her scenes very well, even if I found her co-star, Mark Stevens, to be a bit of a bore.  Ball and the great supporting cast (Clifton Webb, William Bendix, Kurt Kreuger, etc.) made this film worth the wait and watch.  I'm looking forward to her other noir, Lured, which is airing in November. 

 

Miss Grant Takes Richmond (1949).  This film features Ball in a role similar to that of her most famous role, Lucy Ricardo, which would come two years later.  Ball portrays a wishful secretary, who unfortunately is awful.  The hunky William Holden co-stars as a man running a real estate company which is really a front for his horse track gambling racket.  Holden comes to the secretarial school that Ball attends looking for a secretary whom he feels wouldn't be smart enough to figure out his scam and could add to the illusion of being a legit real estate firm.  He sees Ball failing miserably at typing and chooses her.  Lucy, of course, overjoyed at being hired on doesn't realize what is really going on even when Holden's clients call and come in placing bets.  She just assumes that it's real estate jargon.  Ball ends up getting Holden on the hook to develop a real subdivision and even lines him up with real homebuyers.  He has to comply, otherwise, the jig is up with his bookie business.  Hilarity ensues when Lucy and the female homebuyers move the strings marking the walls of their respective properties.  The concrete crew comes in the next day to pour concrete along the strings, only to realize quickly that something was wrong.  Wanting to make their bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms and bathrooms bigger, the ladies end up making their homes overlap one another, making the bathrooms HUGE while making the living rooms tiny, and a variety of other hilarious problems.  Of course, Lucy eventually figures out what Holden is up to and she concocts a scheme to get back at him.  Her scheme is very reminiscent of something that Lucy Ricardo did in an episode of I Love Lucy.  

 

Yours, Mine and Ours (1968).  Co-starring Henry Fonda and a precursor to The Brady Bunch, this film features Ball as a widow with eight children and Fonda as a widower with ten.  I am usually not a fan of children actors, but the children actors in this film were competent and some were actually funny, like the kid that played Phillip--the poor kid that couldn't reach the food at the dinner table.  Ball and Fonda make a nice couple, even if I think both of them are a smidge too old for their roles, they make it believable and are funny along the way.  Lucille Ball has a hilarious drunk scene where she ends up laughing and crying uncontrollably and pours milk down the front of a poor unsuspecting child.  My favorite scene is the scene when the kids are getting their room and bathroom assignments.  For some reason, the kids being told "You're now 10, Red, C" (for example) cracked me up.  I also like the scene in the crowded nightclub when Ball's slip falls down and her fake eyelash falls into her cocktail. 

 

Ball has quite a few "stinkers" on her resume, but I've found that even if I'm not a fan of the film as a whole, usually Lucy was the best part.  I could be biased, but I don't believe so.  In her autobiography, "Love, Lucy" Ball states that in the beginning of her career, she never turned down roles, no matter how bad the film sounded.  She stated that even if the film was terrible, she always learned something new about the filmmaking process and she just wanted to learn.  That's a reason she appears in so many uncredited and bit parts at the very beginning of her career.  She sought out as many of these small jobs as she could, because she just wanted to learn about the business.  She shines in many of these tiny roles.  I think it's a testament to her talent and natural charm.  Even in a film that I absolutely loathed, like Ziegfeld Follies, even though she has no speaking parts, Ball's performance was one of the most memorable.  The film Next Time I Marry is not very good, but Ball's part as the heiress trying to find a husband quickly in order to secure her inheritance, was funny. 

 

Sorry this was so long, what can I say? I Love Lucy! (okay that was cheesy, lol).

I managed to get the tracks to FSM's cd release of Adolph Deutch's music to TLLT. charming music and lucy & desi sing! :)

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Thank you for starting such a great thread Holden! As many of you may know (or have noticed), Lucille Ball is one of my absolute favorite people of all time, and I'm not just basing this opinion on her television work.  I Love Lucy is my favorite television show of all time, but I believe that Lucy's film work deserves to be recognized as well.  She appeared in so many films that I enjoy. 

 

Excuse me while I geek out for a second and talk about all my favorite Lucille Ball films:

 

 (I apologize for being verbose) 

 

The Long Long Trailer (1954).  Even though this episode is basically one long I Love Lucy episode, it is hilarious and in my top 10 favorite movies of all time.  I've seen this movie so many times that I'm pretty much able to recite the dialogue with the film (I don't do this of course, because it'd be annoying if I wasn't watching alone).  This film features many hilarious Lucille Ball physical comedy scenes.  The most manic scene is where Lucy is attempting to cook dinner in the trailer while Desi drives to their next stop.  Desi is singing loudly and is unable to hear Lucy's pleas for him to stop, nor does he look back to see her in the window.  This scene is chaos and it's hilarious.  My favorite scene in the film however, is an earlier scene.  Lucy and Desi decide to take an old logging road because they want to be somewhere secluded (the night before, Desi ended up having to give an impromptu party for the trailer park while Lucy was asleep.  The trailer park hostess, thinking she was helping an injured Lucy, gave her sleeping pills).  The trailer is all whopper-jawed and Desi is unable to straighten it out.  It has also started pouring outside.  Lucy ingeniously manages to rig coat hangers and forks to keep all the pans on the stove and she cooks dinner.  Later, when they decide to go to bed, Desi is fast asleep on his bed (his is on the side that's leaning toward the ground).  Lucy, whose bed is at the top of the slant, literally keeps falling out of bed.  After taking a huge leap onto the bed, the jack supporting the trailer gives way, and Lucy goes flying out the door and into a huge mud swamp.  Desi, woken by Lucy's scream, pokes his head out the door and says: "What's the matter honey? Can't you sleep?"

 

The Affairs of Annabel (1938). This is a lesser known Lucille Ball film and only seems to end up on TCM once a year.  Unfortunately, it is currently not on DVD.  I am hoping that WB Archives will release it in the future.  This film co-stars Jack Oakie.  This film is one of the earliest showcases for Ball's skill at physical comedy.  She portrays an actress who is put through one crazy publicity scheme after another by her agent, portrayed by Oakie.  At the beginning of the film, we're greeted by Ball who is completing a 30 day stint in prison-- a stunt organized by Oakie to promote her film about a woman in prison.  Finally a free woman, Ball walks out of the pokey expecting to see mobs of photographers and people.  However, there's nobody there except Oakie.  The main action of the film involves Oakie getting Ball a job as a maid to promote her new film where Ball portrays a maid.  The comedy involves the family that Ball works with, her ineptitude at actually performing her maid duties and the family eventually figuring out who Ball actually is.  There is a sequel to this film made later in the year, Annabel Takes a Tour, but it is not as good as the first film.  Apparently RKO wanted to create a series of 'Annabel' films, but the project was scrapped when Jack Oakie wanted more money.  

 

Stage Door (1937). While this isn't a Lucille Ball starring vehicle, this film is one of my favorites.  This is a great ensemble film featuring a fantastic cast.  Aside from Ball, the film also features Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Eve Arden, Ann Miller, Adolphe Menjou, just to name a few.  Lucy doesn't have any physical comedy scenes, but this film was a showcase for her ability to give smart quips and also demonstrate some dramatic skills.  She more than holds her own with Hepburn and Rogers. 

 

Five Came Back (1939).  This is a straight dramatic film, one that I think shows another side of Ball's acting skills.  This is another ensemble picture and another one in which Ball shines.  Her character is a departure from Ball's normal characters (up to that time), she plays a bit of a floozy.  This film was a milestone in Ball's career and led to her getting better roles. 

 

Dance, Girl Dance (1940).  Ball plays another floozy in this film, this time a burlesque dancer known as "Bubbles." She is the antagonist to Maureen O'Hara's protagonist.  Ball has a lot of great moments in this film: Her burlesque dance, hiring O'Hara to be her stooge, her catfight with O'Hara*, her scene in the courtroom where she shows off her scratches and black eye.  This is a fun film and I highly recommend it. 

 

*Ball was filming the catfight scene the day she met Desi Arnaz on the set of her next film, Too Many Girls.  She arrived on the set in costume--torn dress, black eye, her hair a mess.  Arnaz was not impressed.  It was only until the met again later in the evening, after Ball had cleaned up, that Arnaz fell for her. 

 

The Dark Corner (1946).  Lucille Ball in a film noir! This was a great movie.  I thought Ball performed her scenes very well, even if I found her co-star, Mark Stevens, to be a bit of a bore.  Ball and the great supporting cast (Clifton Webb, William Bendix, Kurt Kreuger, etc.) made this film worth the wait and watch.  I'm looking forward to her other noir, Lured, which is airing in November. 

 

Miss Grant Takes Richmond (1949).  This film features Ball in a role similar to that of her most famous role, Lucy Ricardo, which would come two years later.  Ball portrays a wishful secretary, who unfortunately is awful.  The hunky William Holden co-stars as a man running a real estate company which is really a front for his horse track gambling racket.  Holden comes to the secretarial school that Ball attends looking for a secretary whom he feels wouldn't be smart enough to figure out his scam and could add to the illusion of being a legit real estate firm.  He sees Ball failing miserably at typing and chooses her.  Lucy, of course, overjoyed at being hired on doesn't realize what is really going on even when Holden's clients call and come in placing bets.  She just assumes that it's real estate jargon.  Ball ends up getting Holden on the hook to develop a real subdivision and even lines him up with real homebuyers.  He has to comply, otherwise, the jig is up with his bookie business.  Hilarity ensues when Lucy and the female homebuyers move the strings marking the walls of their respective properties.  The concrete crew comes in the next day to pour concrete along the strings, only to realize quickly that something was wrong.  Wanting to make their bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms and bathrooms bigger, the ladies end up making their homes overlap one another, making the bathrooms HUGE while making the living rooms tiny, and a variety of other hilarious problems.  Of course, Lucy eventually figures out what Holden is up to and she concocts a scheme to get back at him.  Her scheme is very reminiscent of something that Lucy Ricardo did in an episode of I Love Lucy.  

 

Yours, Mine and Ours (1968).  Co-starring Henry Fonda and a precursor to The Brady Bunch, this film features Ball as a widow with eight children and Fonda as a widower with ten.  I am usually not a fan of children actors, but the children actors in this film were competent and some were actually funny, like the kid that played Phillip--the poor kid that couldn't reach the food at the dinner table.  Ball and Fonda make a nice couple, even if I think both of them are a smidge too old for their roles, they make it believable and are funny along the way.  Lucille Ball has a hilarious drunk scene where she ends up laughing and crying uncontrollably and pours milk down the front of a poor unsuspecting child.  My favorite scene is the scene when the kids are getting their room and bathroom assignments.  For some reason, the kids being told "You're now 10, Red, C" (for example) cracked me up.  I also like the scene in the crowded nightclub when Ball's slip falls down and her fake eyelash falls into her cocktail. 

 

Ball has quite a few "stinkers" on her resume, but I've found that even if I'm not a fan of the film as a whole, usually Lucy was the best part.  I could be biased, but I don't believe so.  In her autobiography, "Love, Lucy" Ball states that in the beginning of her career, she never turned down roles, no matter how bad the film sounded.  She stated that even if the film was terrible, she always learned something new about the filmmaking process and she just wanted to learn.  That's a reason she appears in so many uncredited and bit parts at the very beginning of her career.  She sought out as many of these small jobs as she could, because she just wanted to learn about the business.  She shines in many of these tiny roles.  I think it's a testament to her talent and natural charm.  Even in a film that I absolutely loathed, like Ziegfeld Follies, even though she has no speaking parts, Ball's performance was one of the most memorable.  The film Next Time I Marry is not very good, but Ball's part as the heiress trying to find a husband quickly in order to secure her inheritance, was funny. 

 

Sorry this was so long, what can I say? I Love Lucy! (okay that was cheesy, lol).

It might have been my disparaging remarks about Lucy's film career that were the incentive for this thread. :)

 

She was never considered more than a second-tier leading lady, but she certainly had the last laugh.

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I managed to get the tracks to FSM's cd release of Adolph Deutch's music to TLLT. charming music and lucy & desi sing! :)

My favorite episode of Lucy and Desi travel to Hollywood is with William Holden. Lucy, Ethel, and Fred are having lunch at the Brown Derby. Lucy spots Bill Holden, and she looks over the booth to stare at him. Bill turns the table on Lucy, and he begins to stare at her while she is eating a plate of spaghetti. Lucy becomes so embarresed that she tells Ethel and Fred to leave with her. When Lucy quickly gets up, she bumps into a waiter carrying a trayful of desserts. The desserts land on Bill`s head, and his expression is priceless. Ricky meets Bill at the studio, and he invites him back to their hotel room to meet Lucy. Lucy is mortified, but she figures out a way to meet Bill. She puts on a putty nose, glasses, and a scarf on her head. Ricky and Bill keep looking at Lucy`s nose. Bill thinks that he has seen Lucy somewhere before. To get Bill`s mind on something else, she offers him a cigarette. When he lights Lucy`s, the tip of her nose catches fire. She doses it in a cup of coffee that was on the coffee table in front of them. Again the expresions on Ricky`s and Bill`s face made this the funniest of the L.A. At Last episodes.

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But I gotta tell you, Holden, my favorite Lucy performance was with --

 

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I loved that episode too!  I love the part where she accidentally sets her fake nose on fire....and puts the fire out in the cup of coffee. 

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I managed to get the tracks to FSM's cd release of Adolph Deutch's music to TLLT. charming music and lucy & desi sing! :)

I agree.  On some 'Long Long Trailer' message boards, there is controversy as to whether or not Lucille Ball is actually singing.  I believe that she is and I think she demonstrates that she was able to carry a tune.  She wasn't a professional Broadway singer by any means, but she definitely wasn't as horrible at singing as Lucy Ricardo would have you believe. 

 

I also love Desi's "Ragu of Beef" (which I believe you mentioned earlier in the thread) that he sings while poor Lucy is trying to cook dinner.  That song is hilarious. 

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