I lived in Jamestown, New York for a few years in my early 20s. The city wasn’t far from where I went to college the first time, and when I found myself out of the college gig I found a job in Jamestown and settled in for a couple of years before moving onto bigger and better things. At the time, this was the late 1980s, Jamestown was starting to ramp up it’s “All Things Lucy” approach to tourism, after all, Lucille Ball was born in Celoron, New York (just outside of Jamestown) and had frequently mentioned Jamestown on “I Love Lucy” and during interviews and the like.
As a kid I watched “Here’s Lucy” and “I Love Lucy” reruns as they were available at just about any time. I always liked the show and as I grew older I’ve come to like Lucille Ball’s work as an comedic actor and an the head of Desilu studios on a more sophisticated level. When Amazon announced the release of “Being The Ricardos” I was intrigued. We took the opportunity to watch the movie tonight.
The film focuses on the typical week long production of an “I Love Lucy” episode in 1953, the week the news broke out that Lucille Ball had been registered with the Communist party. The film explores behind the scenes drama, how the news had broken out during that week, the courtship of Lucy and Desi Arnaz, and some of the strife of their marriage. Some historic liberties are taken with the script: Lucy’s pregnancy with Desi Arnaz, Jr. is moved to the same week as the Communist Party story (it was actually a year earlier) and the filmed episode in question was changed to the “Fred and Ethel Fight” episode. I feel like the portrayal of Lucy’s input into the production and insistence on creative decisions was accurate, it matches what I’ve read and seen in interviews and the like from other sources.
I’m going to avoid spoilers. I will say that very early in the movie I had to stop trying to believe that Nicole Kidman was Lucille Ball and just go with the flow that Nicole Kidman was standing in for Lucille Ball. With Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz it was easy; Javier didn’t look or sound anything like Desi Arnaz so it was easy to accept that it was just an actor playing the part. Nicole Kidman didn’t really look like Lucille Ball but there were some cosmetic decisions made to try to herd her in that direction and I found it distracting. Once I figured that out in my head it was fine. There’s a few slips of Nicole’s native accent in the movie that caught me off guard. There were two other lines that pulled me out of the moment, one of them referring to “the taping of the episode” (it would have been the FILMING of the episode in 1953, as taping an episode wasn’t a thing yet). The other line makes a very 21st century use of the word “literally” that felt out of place in the 1953 setting.
Overall we enjoyed the movie and I feel like it did the Arnazes justice. I recommend a viewing experience. It’s available on Amazon Prime.