When we talk about icons few can touch the sheer talent and longevity of American actress and comedienne Lucille Ball.
The co-creator, along with her husband Desi Arnaz, of I Love Lucy in 1951, the fiery redhead became a household name and megastar of the 1950's.
The most-watched show in the United States in four of its six seasons, the smash hit I Love Lucy topped the Neilsen Ratings weekly with over 40 million Americans tuning in to watch the antics of a young, middle-class housewife living in New York City, who often concocted plans with her best friends, Ethel and Fred Mertz.
And it is Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz and I Love Lucy that becomes the focus of Aaron Sorkin's latest Oscar Nominated movie, Being the Ricardos.
Taking on the lead role of Lucille Ball is none other than Nicole Kidman, and despite a bit of dodgy make-up/prosthetics, is an absolute triumph. So much so that Kidman has now been Oscar nominated in the Best Actress category.
Javier Bardem stars as Desi Arnaz, and even though he looks nothing like the man he is playing, also does an excellent job in Being the Ricardos and just like Nicole Kidman, has also been Oscar-nominated.
Director Aaron Sorkin has tried very hard to put together a cohesive story with a beginning, middle and end to the extent that the whole plot of the film centres around one single critical production week in the lives of our two stars.
And what a week it was. It begins with a major publication running a front story expose accusing Arnaz of cheating on Lucille Ball.
No sooner has she seen the magazine and a radio broadcaster all but outs her as a communist. It appears that Ball, to honour her grandfather who raised her, ticked the ‘communist' box on her voter registration form twenty years earlier.
And to add further stress to an already difficult week, Ball is also pregnant with her second child. So with her marriage on the rocks, shocking personal accusations threatening her career and another baby to prepare for, Lucille Ball is in for a tough few days.
Is Being The Ricardos Worth Watching?
Here's the thing about Being the Ricardos. If you are a lifelong fan of Ball & Arnaz then the creative licence taken by Aaron Sorkin to make the movie may not sit well with you.
Likewise, if you have never heard of them at all then you may struggle to see the point of the movie.
The sweet spot is knowing who the main players are but not enough to have it ruin what is in reality a very entertaining and engaging movie.
On balance, as I fall into the ‘sweet spot' category, it is two hours well spent not least because Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem are brilliant. As are J. K. Simmons (21 Bridges), Nina Arianda, Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat, Jake Lacy, and Clark Gregg who feature in supporting roles.
Where Can You See Being the Ricardos?
Being the Ricardos is an Amazon Studios original movie that received a limited theatrical release in the United States on December 10, 2021, prior to streaming worldwide on Amazon Prime Video on December 21, 2021.
For now, it is the only streaming service that you can watch Being the Ricardos. And if you have a Prime subscription it is free to watch.
Is Being The Ricardos True?
Yes and no. All the cast, writers, executives and storylines in the movie existed in real life. However, they have been condensed down to a narrower timeframe to fit into the film.
For example, Lucille Ball did meet voluntarily with HUAC (House Committee on Un-American Activities) investigator William A. Wheeler in Hollywood and gave him sealed testimony in September 1953.
However, the pregnancy they refer to in Being the Ricardos is the couple's second child and he was born in January 1953 so the two events never overlapped.
The craziness surrounding Lucy being pregnant in the show to coincide with Ball's own pregnancy was as controversial as indicated.
Several demands were made by CBS, insisting that a pregnant woman could not be shown on television, nor could the word “pregnant” be spoken on-air.
After approval from several religious figures, the network allowed the pregnancy storyline, but insisted that the word “expecting” be used instead of “pregnant”. After all, it was the 1950s!
Cast Of Being the Ricardos
Given that this movie is based on the tv show I Love Lucy, all of the characters from that show are well represented in this film's cast.
Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball, the lead for which she has been nominated for an Academy Award
Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz, Lucille's husband and creator of the Desi Arnaz Orchestra
J.K. Simmons as William Frawley, who originally played Fred Mertz in the hit show
Nina Arianda as Vivian Vance, who originally played Ethel Mertz in I Love Lucy
Tony Hale as Jess Oppenheimer
John Rubinstein as older Jess Oppenheimer – when interviewed for the mockumentary
Alia Shawkat as Madelyn Pugh a staff writer on I Love Lucy
Linda Lavin as older Madelyn Pugh – when interviewed for the mockumentary
Jake Lacy as Bob Carroll Jr. – staff writer alongside Madelyn Pugh
Ronny Cox as older Bob Carroll
Clark Gregg as Howard Wenke, a CBS executive