BEING THE RICARDOS – Review by Susan Granger

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Growing up in Hollywood with a director/producer father (S. Sylvan Simon) who often worked with Lucille Ball, I had the pleasure of knowing her…which was why I was absolutely stunned that Nicole Kidman was not only able to embody her exuberant physicality but also to capture the vocal nuances and tonal essence of the determined woman she was.

During the stressful week that this behind-the-scenes story takes place, Lucille Ball (Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) are threatened by shocking personal revelations, a political smear, and CBS’s concern over cultural taboos as they’re preparing a pivotal installment of I Love Lucy.

Set in 1953 when Sen. Joe McCarthy terrorizes Hollywood with his Communist witch hunts. Lucy & Desi are into the second season of their groundbreaking sitcom when, unexpectedly, on his Sunday night radio broadcast, powerful columnist Walter Winchell suggests that Lucille Ball is a Communist.

Utilizing flashbacks, writer/director Aaron Sorkin not only delves into Lucy & Desi’s romantic and professional relationship but also reveals their behind-closed-doors interaction with costars Vivian Vance (Nina Arianda) and William Frawley (J.K. Simmons), who played neighbors Ethel & Fred Mertz.

“I’m not funny,” Lucy often claimed. But she was brave, and she certainly knew how to play funny.

Married for 20 turbulent years, America’s favorite redhead and her philandering Cuban band-leader were far more fascinating than the fictional Ricardos, as Sorkin delves into the darker aspects of their lives. As years went by, their commitment to I Love Lucy was the only thing keeping them together.

Many claim the last kiss they ever shared was the last kiss of the last episode of their last show. Shortly afterward, Lucy filed for divorce and bought out Desi’s shares of Desilu Productions. As studio executive, Lucy later launched hits like Star Trek and Mission Impossible.

Admittedly, this film is minor Sorkin but Aaron Sorkin (West Wing, The Social Network) is cagey, droll and voraciously smart.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Being the Ricardos is an intriguing 8 – in theaters and streaming on Amazon Prime, starting December 21.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.