Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan



A made-for-TV move, the story of Lucille Ball and Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III, better known as Desi Arnaz. Lucy is played very well by Rachel York, and Danny Pino is good as Desi, though neither of them look much like their subjects. That’s okay with me, as long as they capture the mannerisms and speech, and they do. It follows Lucy from her youth in a small town in New York, to her short trip to the city, where she is in an acting class with a snotty Bette Davis. True, Lucy is awful, but give the kid a break, okay? Then stints as a Goldwyn Girl, and on to Hollywood where she got a lot of pies in the face and worked with Red Skelton. But her career never took off. She marries the serial womanizer, and reluctantly enters the infant TV market. There is where Desi really showed his genius, that he was capable of much more than knocking on a conga drum and shouting “Babaloo!” The couple founded Desilu Studios, taking over the old RKO lot. Soon Desilu was the most powerful force in television. When Lucy and Desi divorced, Lucy bought him out, and ran the studio for a while. A long ways from small town New York! (The studio still exists, under the name Paramount Television.) There were three things that made this all possible, and made I Love Lucy the biggest hit in television for about five years. First, and this is the one usually forgotten, they hired great writers. Madelyn Pugh Davis (who died only a year ago, in 2011 at the age of 90) and Bob Carroll worked together for 50 years, and their crowning creation was Lucy Ricardo. Second, Lucy had to bring the character to life, which she did brilliantly. And third, Desi revolutionized television by shooting on film instead of the horrible kinescope, using three cameras, and filming before a live audience. Lucy needed an audience, had to have it. Desi’s techniques are used to this day. Too bad he couldn’t stop his boozing, gambling, and most of all, womanizing. The postscript to the movie says they remained friends all of their lives. It could have been so much better if he had been faithful. Something I didn’t know is that the great Buster Keaton helped teach Lucy her comedy chops. You can’t do better than that.