Friday, August 5, 2011

Lucille Ball at 100: We Love You Lucy!

People from 5 to 105 love Lucy. Who? You know who, even if you aren’t one of the millions who DO love Lucy, you know who she is. She is the zany redhead we have watched since childhood on the hilarious 1950‘s comedy “I Love Lucy“. (We know she is a redhead because, well, just because we do. It’s not because we see her on her world famous T.V. show with red hair since it is in black and white). August 6th is the 100th anniversary of her birth in Jamestown, New York and much hoopla will be made in her honor, as well it should be.

Although she is known across the globe for her comedic genius, she got her start in none other than classic movies, first at RKO, then later as a Technicolor queen at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Many forget her dramatic film roots (pardon the hair coloring related pun, as she herself made quite joke of it often on her show) and it’s a part of “Lucy” history which should be brought to light for those who may not be aware of a pretty darn impressive career.

This post isn’t going to be a deep retrospective, as so many and so much has been written about this great performer, but just a gentle reminder of a few of her more interesting film roles. If you haven’t seen them, you might want to check them out. You might be surprised.

Stage Door (1937) ~ Ball shares the screen with some RKO heavyweights, Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers and tosses a few verbal punches in as well. Early Lucy.

Dance Girl, Dance (1940) ~ Although Maureen O’Hara is the technical star of this show, Lucy comes out ahead most of the time. As Bubbles, exotic dancer, she is brassy and sassy and extremely attractive (pictured below). Early Dramatic Lucy.

The Big Street (1942) ~ The first time I saw this film I couldn’t believe I was watching the fun and loving star of one of my favorite comedy shows! Ball is cold and callous as a nightclub performer who treats her mousy admirer (Henry Fonda) like something scraped off her dog’s paw, she shows a whole different side to our favorite redhead.

The Dark Corner (1946) ~ Lucy as a “girl Friday” in an intriguing film noir at the peak of the genres popularity. Can’t miss. Suspenseful Lucy.

Then there are the fun and frivolous musical comedy confections she made when she moved over to MGM. DuBarry Was a Lady, Best Foot Forward and others. These performances, along with her great television work, built a career than spanned over 50 years and showed just why so many “loved Lucy”.

Lead graphic by illustrator Glen Hanson


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