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Was Lucy A Communist? “Being The Ricardos” Review

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

Can you spoil a mostly biographical movie? If you’re a history buff or a pop culture connoisseur, then no. So… If you don’t want anything spoiled about the film, this review may not be for you. We’re gonna start right out of the gate with…

SPOILERS BELOW

First, allow me to make clear that while certain conflicts in the film were in fact real in this “true story”, the timeline was altered heavily and so too were the conflicts themselves, all for the sake of the drama. Many films have been claimed to be true stories, Disney’s sports stories in particular, but have almost nothing to do with the reality of the events that really took place.

That’s why so many of these movie’s state that they are “based” on true stories, or “adapted” from a true story.

There are several facts in these movies that are verifiable and undeniable, but keep in mind that there are almost as many little lies told at the same time. Most importantly, the fact that three major issues occur all in the same hellish week. In reality, all three issues were spread out over several different years.

Those three issues were Lucille Ball’s membership of the Communist Party, Desi Arnaz’ cheating on his wife, and Ball and Arnaz’s pregnancy with Desi Jr. All of these three things happened more or less, just at different times in their life.

Perhaps the worst issue I had was their attempt to make Madelyn Pugh Davis a tough, brilliant, ignored writer to attract feminists in the audience. She’s depicted as having an antagonistic and unfriendly partnership with Bob Carroll Jr. Worse. They make it out as if Bob isn’t at all funny and is mostly riding on the coattails of Madelyn. It’s implied that he’s slow and incompetent, making him more of a hindrance than a help as he attempts to take credit for many of Madelyn’s ideas.

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The truth isn’t nearly as gossipy, dramatic, or even competitive. The two were writing partners for nearly 50 years. They worked together to create not only the character of “Lucy”, the mostly same character that would be used in every version of a show that Lucille Ball starred in, but also the visual style of comedy that Ball was so well suited for. The two writers were close friends and even in interviews you can see the respect they held for one another.

Furthermore, of the 5 permanent staff writers for “I Love Lucy” and it’s 181 episodes, Madelyn Pugh Davis and Bob Carroll Jr. are the only two credited for every single episode. Neither are incompetent, and neither deserved Aaron Sorkin’s (writer and director of “Being The Ricardos”) portrayal of them for the sake of a few laughs and virtue signaling.

Why is it important that this is brought up as the worst lie told in the movie? Because the writing and its process was exactly what made “I Love Lucy” so successful.

Where else does the film go wrong? Honestly, that’s about the worst of it when it comes to woke-ism or virtue signaling agendas. It’s not the only place with errors or embellishments, but the majority can be forgiven in the name of entertaining the audience for the 2hr 12 min runtime of the film.

One of the most startling truths about the movie is that Lucille Ball was in fact a registered Communist. This was an issue that was thoroughly investigated, including her hosting of at least one party at her home (though she was not present during). It was determined that Lucille Ball’s interactions with the Communist Party were done in an effort to accommodate and please her dying grandfather, Fred C. Hunt, but she had no loyalties or ties to Communism.

Despite the previous paragraphs which probably seem like I am bashing the film, it was actually a spectacular drama.

The performances by every single cast member were sincere and captivating. Nicole Kidman made the right choice in getting a voice coach to help her deepen her whispery, high pitched voice. Javier Bardem was sexy, confident and cool, and also worked to change his accent to a Cuban one. You know, much like how British actors fake American accents and Americans fake British accents.

People were angry that Bardem was cast since he’s Spanish and not Cuban. Thanks to a demand for inclusivity (which is really creating exclusivity), Hollywood is slowly being boxed into forcing productions to only allow people to play themselves. I wonder how many serial killers they’re going to get released in order to play out all these true crime movies? Or is it just that the actors will need to go around murdering people for the sake of being “authentic”.

Many fans of actress Debra Messing weren’t thrilled with Nicole Kidman’s casting either, complaining that Messing should have been cast as Lucille Ball. Going back to that authenticity claim, some said it was because Messing was a real red head, unlike Kidman. Firing back, Lucie Arnaz stated that Ball wasn’t a redhead either and they weren’t trying to cast Lucy Ricardo, they were casting Lucille Ball.

Truly, the film’s casting was nearly perfect. Nina Arianda excelled at getting people to empathize with her portrayal of Vivian Vance who struggles with hating William Frawley played by Fred Mertz, opposite to her own Ethel Mertz. JK Simmons perfects the indifferent and surly nature of Frawley, who is more concerned with keeping his job and drinking than what’s going on around him.

All in, the film was stellar. The bravery of Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr for allowing Sorkin to show their parents in the truest light possible is to be commended. There was no sugarcoating the ups and downs in the lives of their mother and father who they were respectively named after. They didn’t allow anyone to shy away from the egos of either Ball or Arnaz, and it made the film fantastic.

Grade: A-