Amy Poehler’s Balance of History and Respect Document

There are many scenarios where Amy Poehler’s romantic documentary “Lucy and Desi” could never have existed. As Lucille Ball herself recounts through great vintage interviews, the future superstar couldn’t even become a showgirl in her early years. She was kicked out of drama school and boxed from various choruses. “I am a fool. Nothing really,” she admitted, adding that at one point of despair, she changed her name to Dianne Belmont, pretended she was from Montana (instead of New York) and set her own. nicknamed “Two Gun”.

In Ball’s humble opinion, it wasn’t her talent but her relentless hard work that pulled her up a few rungs of the ladder, until she did enough of the low-budget studio movies she was considered to be. The Queen of B-movies”. Her considerable self-doubt becomes part of the documentary’s allure, especially given Ball’s fame. She only does comedies, she insists, because she has no other ideas: “See, when you’re not pretty, and you’re not too bright, you attract attention in every way possible. body.”

Among other things, Poehler gives us the gift of proof. We can see for ourselves that Ball is both beautiful and brilliant. But what really changed her life, and the entertainment industry itself, was her chance to play opposite Desi Arnaz in the movie Too Many Girls.

“Lucy and Desi” is a fascinating history and a lovely tribute, but most of all, it is a heartfelt romance. And theirs, by both accounts, is love at first sight. They were determined to work together in Hollywood, and – despite being significantly stymied because Arnaz is Cuban – they finally got their chance with the sitcom “I Love Lucy”.

Of course, the show was an instant hit and changed the direction of television. Despite their always fractured marriage, the two worked together for nearly two decades as the founders of Desilu Productions, the company eventually led by Ball, the first woman to head a television studio. operating. It’s an extraordinary story, if by now familiar. Fans may have seen much of that play out most recently in Aaron Sorkin’s “Being the Ricardos,” with Nicole Kidman as Ball and Javier Bardem as Arnaz.

But nothing is like the real thing, both on and off screen. No matter how many times you’ve watched Ball shill Vitameatavegamin, her performance is unparalleled perfection. And understanding the relationship between creator and cast can only deepen one’s appreciation of a prestigious classic.

Poehler clearly understands the importance of these relationships and creates a wide network of story sharing. She thoughtfully uses old footage and interviews with the stars and writers of “I Love Lucy,” adding layers with gripping modern observations from friends and cast members. couple’s family. Personal memories from Ball’s patron Carol Burnett and the duo’s daughter Lucie Arnaz Luckinbill go a long way towards the humanization of historical icons.

And yes, those are symbols, plural: Poehler takes his title very seriously and gives equal time to both actors. In fact, Arnaz was the one to be treated a little more kindly. While Arnaz Luckinbill and others refer to Ball’s “tough” nature and tough edges, Arnaz has been softened considerably. At the time, their marriage troubles were a constant source of news and gossip magazines were never short of famous headlines about him cheating, drinking, and gambling.

Poehler is almost entirely sensationalist, painting a personal portrait of a man who always wants to do the right thing but is sometimes overwhelmed by his work or relationships. We learned a lot about Ball, but in the end, we got to know Arnaz a little better. This could be because of who she really is, or for whom, in a predominantly male-run world, she has to be.

It’s not entirely accurate, as Bette Midler put it, that, “There’s never been anyone like her before. You realize that women can do this too. It’s not just Charlie Chaplin. It’s not just Buster Keaton. (Here’s hoping Poehler can one day make a movie about Mabel Normand, who mentored Chaplin, or Gertrude Berg, who created the sitcom that set the stage for “I Love Lucy.”)

But Ball’s unsurpassed talent and the pair’s pioneering accomplishments were and still are undeniable. What makes “Lucy and Desi” so compelling is that we can feel that Poehler enjoys telling their story as much as we enjoy watching it.

“Lucy and Desi” premieres on Prime Video on March 4. Amy Poehler’s Balance of History and Respect Document

Curtis Crabtree

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