Lucy (2003 film)

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Directed by Glenn Jordan
Produced by Dave Mace
Written by Katie Ford
T. S. Cook
Starring Rachel York
Danny Pino
Distributed by CBS Television
Release dates
  • May 4, 2003 (2003-05-04)
Running time
128 min.
Language English

Lucy is a 2003 television film directed by Glenn Jordan. It is based on the life and career of actress and comedienne Lucille Ball.


Lucy opens in 1960, at the filming of the final Lucille BallDesi Arnaz Show (The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour). It is evident that all is not well between television's most famous couple, who send scathing messages to each other through a nervous pageboy. Co-stars Vivian Vance and William Frawley (Rebecca Hobbs and Russell Newman) comment on the tense situation backstage. However, all performers put on their best front as Desi introduces the cast for the last time, with Lucille (Rachel York) gratefully accepting the audience's welcome.

The story then flashes back to 1925, when young Lucy (Madeline Zima) was living in Celoron, New York. Her desire to perform leads her to an acting school in New York, where she encounters an icy and condescending pupil named Bette Davis (Priscilla Bonnett) and an unreceptive instructor, who deems her no good and sends her home. Her grandfather is sued for all he's worth after a tragic shotgun incident involving a child. The injured child is left permanently paralyzed and the court leaves them penniless; declaring them bankrupt. Lucy does not give up, and spends the 1930s working as a model and cigarette girl in New York City before landing a job as a Goldwyn Girl and beginning her Hollywood career.

After going through a few studios without achieving star recognition, she befriends Carole Lombard (Vanessa Grey) and brings her family out west to live with her. After hiring a maid named Harriet (La Chanze), she meets a fellow contract player Desi Arnaz (Danny Pino), who is co-starring with her in her latest film. Lucy and Desi begin their relationship together.

After recovering from Lombard's death in 1943, she moves to Metro Goldwyn Mayer and becomes a red-head for her new picture DuBarry Was a Lady, with fellow comedian Red Skelton (Mark Clare). All is not well on the home-front, however, what with Desi away in the service and persistent rumors of his infidelity. The death of her grandfather, Fred Hunt, and a devastating miscarriage only makes matters worse.

After being released from MGM, silent movie legend Buster Keaton (Ian Mune) takes Lucy under his wing, convinced of her talent as a clown. Her comedic skills further gestate on her new radio program, My Favorite Husband. Lucy not only becomes more convinced of her comedic abilities, but of her desire to work with Desi to keep them together.

Gathering the radio team together, the idea for I Love Lucy is formed and pitched to CBS. Although skeptical of the public's readiness to buy Arnaz as Ball's husband, the couple set out to prove them wrong by performing musical and comedy routines on the road, and the network gives way, convinced the show will flop.

It proves a huge success, however, and remains a favorite for the next six years, overcoming a communist scare and even incorporating Lucille's real-life second pregnancy into the show, forever changing the shape of television.

By 1958, their company, Desilu had bought the former RKO studio where Lucille had once worked, and continued to expand as a television empire. Lucy and Desi's relationship problems increase, however, with Desi's worsening alcoholism and Lucille's fierce commitment to her craft making her more and more difficult to work with.

By 1960, it was obvious they could not go on, and prepared to end their show along with their marriage. The film concludes after the taping has ended, with Lucy and Desi walking out of the studio, hand in hand, no longer a couple but still friends, bonded for life by what they had accomplished.


Historical Inaccuracies[edit]

  • Harriett is a composite character based on several maids Lucille had over the years, and also takes the place of her cousin, Cleo Morgan.
  • Lucille suffers only one miscarriage instead of two.
  • Jess Oppenheimer is portrayed as being hired specifically to produce I Love Lucy, ignoring his involvement with My Favorite Husband beginning in 1948.
  • Grape is shown as being a Jell-O flavor, when actually there were only six flavors in 1949 (strawberry, raspberry, cherry, orange, lemon & lime)
  • The I Love Lucy set omits the Ricardo's bedroom and has the first scene from "Lucy Thinks Ricky Is Trying to Murder Her" be the kitchen scene with Ethel.
  • The second season Tropicana set is shown to be in use during production of the first season.
  • The Ricardo's wall is painted light blue instead of pale pink.
  • The "Pioneer Women" "13 cakes" conversation takes place in the living room set instead of the kitchen.
  • The Ricardo's second apartment is not used; the film shows the first one as lasting the entire series.
  • The revelation of Lucille's communist ties comes after the filming of season three's "Lucy is Envious", when in reality the news broke prior to the filming of the first episode that season, "The Girls Go Into Business".
  • Lucy & Desi discuss buying RKO in 1953 during the red-scare, when it didn't even hit the market until around 1957.
  • Director William Asher and writers Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf are not depicted. The film shows Marc Daniels being the sole director and Bob Carroll, Jr. and Madelyn Davis the only writers.
  • The Arnaz family is shown moving out of the ranch and onto Roxbury Drive in 1958, when actually they moved in 1954.
  • "Lucy Meets the Moustache" was not filmed before a live audience in reality. The filming also occurred on March 2nd, 1960, not in February.
  • The final scene of "Lucy Meets the Moustache" takes place in the Connecticut living room as opposed to Ernie Kovacs' hotel room.
  • The Connecticut house is shortened, omitting a portion of the wall between the fireplace and the door, plus the kitchen door. There is also no door or balcony at the top of the stairs. In addition, the location of the other side door is changed in order to consolidate the set. [1]
  • The depiction of Ball and Arnaz holding hands at the end of the film would be unlikely given the animosity between the two at the time; Arnaz would go so far as to sell his share of Desilu to Ball in the aftermath of the divorce, severing the remaining ties between the two. Arnaz would eventually return to Desilu as a director on The Mothers-in-Law and, many years later, reconcile with Ball; the two were once again very close friends in their later years.

Lucy and Buster[edit]

Lucille Ball's friendship with classic comic Buster Keaton, depicted in this film, was true and eventually the two of them made a joint guest appearance in a sketch from "A Salute to Stan Laurel", which aired on November 25th, 1965. [2]


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