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Before the Laughter and Lucy, TV Movie


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Well, I have seen both of these movies several times. I have many mixed feelings about both of them. I do know that Lucie Arnaz disliked Before the Laughter due to the the way her parents relationship was portrayed. There was not much explanation of anything. I definitely hated the EXTREMELY little information about how I Love Lucy was formed. The movie only focused on the downsides of there marriage as well, but still a lot of the information was false. On the other hand, Lucy (2003) was much better. There were definitely mistakes, still not close to as many as Before the Laughter, but I thought it was well done. Casting wise, I believe the actress from Before the Laughter should have portrayed Lucy in this biopic instead. Rachel York, was alright, but she just does not look like Lucy. Danny Pino was great, good performance, while Maurice Benard was terrible in Before the Laughter, I think. It is just so impossible to portray Lucy and Desi, as well as Viv and Bill. Speaking of Viv and Bill, all four of the actors and actresses who played them in both of the movies were really bad, very corny and hard to believe. But, I believe the actress who played DeDe and Desi's mother in Lucy did very well, and i thought they looked like them, as well as portrayed the role well. I would definitely choose Lucy (2003) over Before the Laughter, but they were both riddled with mistakes.

 

As for public releases of these movies, I know Lucy was released as and Emmy consideration, as I own it. And I know Before the Laughter was released on VHS and Laserdisc, but the VHS is always expensive, and the laserdisc is extremely hard to find, my player does not even work anymore ethier. I also know people have released Before the Laughter and Lucy themselves, via old recordings off TV on put them on DVDs themselves as needed. Even though, that is probably illegal.

 

What does everyone else think about these movies, should either of them be re-released, if so, which one??

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I hated both of them. The first one was too soap opera-ish, the second one had the corniest acting ever. I would be happy if they made a big screen movie of Lucy's entire life. I wouldn't care if they were ever released on DVD, I wouldn't waste my money on them.

I didnt like either of them either, but out of the two i did like Lucy (2003) better, but still not really good. But, I would like if they came out with a big screen movie with that actress from I Love Lucy: Live on Stage as Lucy, she is really GOOD!

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I didnt like either of them either, but out of the two i did like Lucy (2003) better, but still not really good. But, I would like if they came out with a big screen movie with that actress from I Love Lucy: Live on Stage as Lucy, she is really GOOD!

 

Suzanne LaRusch? I wonder if she can do dramatic acting rather than just the comedic side though.

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I didnt like either of them either, but out of the two i did like Lucy (2003) better, but still not really good. But, I would like if they came out with a big screen movie with that actress from I Love Lucy: Live on Stage as Lucy, she is really GOOD!

Oh, GOD no!!! I thought she was channeling Audrey Hepburn, not Lucille Ball!!! :lucyshock:

Sorry there really is no one left that can do her justice, at least not "on the big screen" and who is the right age (late 20s - early-to-mid 40s) who could pull off what I would hope would be the "bulk" of the story, her years first meeting Desi, creating/doing ILL, and the inevitable separation/divorce.

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Suzanne LaRusch? I wonder if she can do dramatic acting rather than just the comedic side though.

No not Suzanne, she is better at Lucille in her older years. Her name is Sirena Irwin, she is really good at Lucille Ball as Lucy Ricardo, she sounds just like her, and looks good too! But still, it is so hard to capture and imitate Lucy and her career.

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Frances Fisher had the potential to make a great Lucy, IMO, but she was hampered by an inbalanced script and inadequate direction. She only got to play an exaggerated "Lifetime Original Movie" caricature of Lucy, it seemed.

 

York was a bit too young to be totally convincing in the later half of her movie, and may not have looked much like Ball, but I thought she got the voice well and I liked her attitude in portraying both Lucille and the Lucy character. She took the project seriously and gave it her all, but even York has said she wished the film had gone deeper. She implied in an interview once that she and the producers may have clashed a bit over their decision to "stick to the surface" for the most part. She said it was a positive experience in how much she got to learn about Lucille, but a negative in that she didn't get to portray more aspects of her life.

 

I have no idea what Fisher thinks of Before the Laughter, but Maurice Benard has even admitted that his performance was bad. He's admitted openly that he wasn't experienced enough to play Desi, and that he feels bad about not being able to live up to Desi's greatness. So I can forgive him for that. Plus, as I said, he wasn't given great material to work with, either.

 

The second one is definitely stronger than the first, but far from perfect. The biggest problem with the second one was the budget. It looked cheap. I seem to recall the People magazine review commenting that it "looks like it was shot on a budget of $250". I understand why they outsourced to New Zealand to help with production values, but you'd think they could've thrown a bit more money at them to help do Lucy justice. I swear that in some of the audience scenes during filmings of "I Love Lucy" you can see the same people attending each and every taping, just seated in different positions. They may even be wearing the same outfits!

 

Also, the second one suffered from some sloppy editing towards the end. Showing them buying RKO in 1958, then immediately cutting to them still rehearsing I Love Lucy in the Ricardo's first apartment?? I mean, come on! I can't confirm this, but I have a hunch that a number of scenes were cut to fit it in the alotted time, there are some very abrupt jumps from time to time! But it's definitely best Lucy biopic produced to date. Hopefully they'll keep getting better each time!

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Frances Fisher had the potential to make a great Lucy, IMO, but she was hampered by an inbalanced script and inadequate direction. She only got to play an exaggerated "Lifetime Original Movie" caricature of Lucy, it seemed.

 

York was a bit too young to be totally convincing in the later half of her movie, and may not have looked much like Ball, but I thought she got the voice well and I liked her attitude in portraying both Lucille and the Lucy character. She took the project seriously and gave it her all, but even York has said she wished the film had gone deeper. She implied in an interview once that she and the producers may have clashed a bit over their decision to "stick to the surface" for the most part. She said it was a positive experience in how much she got to learn about Lucille, but a negative in that she didn't get to portray more aspects of her life.

 

I have no idea what Fisher thinks of Before the Laughter, but Maurice Benard has even admitted that his performance was bad. He's admitted openly that he wasn't experienced enough to play Desi, and that he feels bad about not being able to live up to Desi's greatness. So I can forgive him for that. Plus, as I said, he wasn't given great material to work with, either.

 

The second one is definitely stronger than the first, but far from perfect. The biggest problem with the second one was the budget. It looked cheap. I seem to recall the People magazine review commenting that it "looks like it was shot on a budget of $250". I understand why they outsourced to New Zealand to help with production values, but you'd think they could've thrown a bit more money at them to help do Lucy justice. I swear that in some of the audience scenes during filmings of "I Love Lucy" you can see the same people attending each and every taping, just seated in different positions. They may even be wearing the same outfits!

 

Also, the second one suffered from some sloppy editing towards the end. Showing them buying RKO in 1958, then immediately cutting to them still rehearsing I Love Lucy in the Ricardo's first apartment?? I mean, come on! I can't confirm this, but I have a hunch that a number of scenes were cut to fit it in the alotted time, there are some very abrupt jumps from time to time! But it's definitely best Lucy biopic produced to date. Hopefully they'll keep getting better each time!

I so agree. Before the Laughter was bad for many reasons, not many things I liked and I am not even going to say anymore, just bad casting and scripts. Lucy, was definitely better. I have thought (about the sets)SO many times. They are in like the 5th season and they are in the ricardos first apartment. Also, they didnt make a set for vitameatvegamin, which is just a table and a poster anyways, not hard or expensive to make. Then the chocolate factory and the ballet scene was like half a set, with one wall. It seems they spent all the money in the beginning, with the carnival, and 1930s-40s glamour. But, then when it came to the main event, the making of I Love Lucy, they had only $100 to complete the film. I think they should have focused much more attention to the I Love Lucy scenes, sets, etc. It is what people/fans know the best, they notice the mistakes! But, in Lucy they did explain well how I Love Lucy came to be, as well as the writers, which the show is NOTHING without. Then, in Before the laughter, they are doing the vaudville show Lucy and Desi did to convince CBS and then two seconds later, "hey we are filming I Love Lucy!". But, I do agree that Lucy was much better out of the two. Sorry for bad typing! haah

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I so agree. Before the Laughter was bad for many reasons, not many things I liked and I am not even going to say anymore, just bad casting and scripts. Lucy, was definitely better. I have thought (about the sets)SO many times. They are in like the 5th season and they are in the ricardos first apartment. Also, they didnt make a set for vitameatvegamin, which is just a table and a poster anyways, not hard or expensive to make. Then the chocolate factory and the ballet scene was like half a set, with one wall. It seems they spent all the money in the beginning, with the carnival, and 1930s-40s glamour. But, then when it came to the main event, the making of I Love Lucy, they had only $100 to complete the film. I think they should have focused much more attention to the I Love Lucy scenes, sets, etc. It is what people/fans know the best, they notice the mistakes! But, in Lucy they did explain well how I Love Lucy came to be, as well as the writers, which the show is NOTHING without. Then, in Before the laughter, they are doing the vaudville show Lucy and Desi did to convince CBS and then two seconds later, "hey we are filming I Love Lucy!". But, I do agree that Lucy was much better out of the two. Sorry for bad typing! haah

 

Yes, the second film did explain the creation of ILL better, but I did have a problem with the way they depicted Jess Oppenheimer. He no doubt was turning in his grave at the way they showed him arriving on the scene in 1951, ignoring his contribution to MFH's development in 1948. They then made it seem as though Desi, Madelyn and Bob created the concept themselves while Oppenheimer was just an advisor. Given the acrimony that eventually developed between Desi and Jess over Desi receiving more credit towards the end, this no doubt would only add fuel to the fire!

 

And I agree, they should've had more resources to develop the I Love Lucy scenes because, as you said, those are what the fans are most familiar with and the changes made will be more obvious. Take all the dramatic license you want with the behind the scenes stuff, but don't alter what was put on camera! It's unfortunate they didn't budget to build the Ricardo's 2nd apartment or make the Westport house the proper scale.

 

And I think the reason they didn't fully create the Vitametavegamin or candy factory sets was because they knew enough NOT to re-create those scenes directly. Showing Lucy and Viv rehearsing them was a wise move, as I'm sure everyone realized it would be too risky to try to do those scenes as the audience saw them.

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Yes, the second film did explain the creation of ILL better, but I did have a problem with the way they depicted Jess Oppenheimer. He no doubt was turning in his grave at the way they showed him arriving on the scene in 1951, ignoring his contribution to MFH's development in 1948. They then made it seem as though Desi, Madelyn and Bob created the concept themselves while Oppenheimer was just an advisor. Given the acrimony that eventually developed between Desi and Jess over Desi receiving more credit towards the end, this no doubt would only add fuel to the fire!

 

And I agree, they should've had more resources to develop the I Love Lucy scenes because, as you said, those are what the fans are most familiar with and the changes made will be more obvious. Take all the dramatic license you want with the behind the scenes stuff, but don't alter what was put on camera! It's unfortunate they didn't budget to build the Ricardo's 2nd apartment or make the Westport house the proper scale.

 

And I think the reason they didn't fully create the Vitametavegamin or candy factory sets was because they knew enough NOT to re-create those scenes directly. Showing Lucy and Viv rehearsing them was a wise move, as I'm sure everyone realized it would be too risky to try to do those scenes as the audience saw them.

Very good point, it is impossible to recreate Lucy and Viv, they were great. All both of these movies needed was MORE RESEARCH. Don't make a documentary if you don't know your facts!! I also wish the focused on the kids growing up as well (Lucie and Desi)

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Very good point, it is impossible to recreate Lucy and Viv, they were great. All both of these movies needed was MORE RESEARCH. Don't make a documentary if you don't know your facts!! I also wish the focused on the kids growing up as well (Lucie and Desi)

 

Well that's just it: they weren't making a documentary and they took waaaaaay too much "dramatic license" as a result. IMHO neither project should have ever seen the light of day! lucyhorror.JPG

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No not Suzanne, she is better at Lucille in her older years. Her name is Sirena Irwin, she is really good at Lucille Ball as Lucy Ricardo, she sounds just like her, and looks good too! But still, it is so hard to capture and imitate Lucy and her career.

 

 

Really?? I think Suzanne was the quintessential Lucy Ricardo "imitator" if you will and I'm hard pressed to come up with anyone who's portrayed her better, including this Irwin gal who, I'm sorry, just (for me) did not do Lucy Ricardo (and/or Ball as....) justice at all, especially in her speaking voice -- not even close. She was however, pretty impressive as far as recreating some of the choreography, etc. of the "Exes Examined" episodes Jitterbug dance numbers. blink.gif

 

Don't even get me started about the two who "imitate" Fred and Ethel. Whoa! wacko.gif

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Really?? I think Suzanne was the quintessential Lucy Ricardo "imitator" if you will and I'm hard pressed to come up with anyone who's portrayed her better, including this Irwin gal who, I'm sorry, just (for me) did not do Lucy Ricardo (and/or Ball as....) justice at all, especially in her speaking voice -- not even close. She was however, pretty impressive as far as recreating some of the choreography, etc. of the "Exes Examined" episodes Jitterbug dance numbers. blink.gif

 

Don't even get me started about the two who "imitate" Fred and Ethel. Whoa! wacko.gif

Listen, two movies about Lucy were better than none, and one day maybe they'll get it right and give us a real one, a mini series or a big screen project that will do her justice.

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Really?? I think Suzanne was the quintessential Lucy Ricardo "imitator" if you will and I'm hard pressed to come up with anyone who's portrayed her better, including this Irwin gal who, I'm sorry, just (for me) did not do Lucy Ricardo (and/or Ball as....) justice at all, especially in her speaking voice -- not even close. She was however, pretty impressive as far as recreating some of the choreography, etc. of the "Exes Examined" episodes Jitterbug dance numbers. blink.gif

 

Don't even get me started about the two who "imitate" Fred and Ethel. Whoa! wacko.gif

Suzanne is very good, I just have always seen her as the older Lucy because I've seen her show "An Evening with Lucille ball." She IS GREAT but she does play Lucy in her later years, but her Lucy Ricardo is still spectacular. I also agree about Irwin, her strong point is definitely choreography. I also hate all the Fred and Ethel actors/actresses, just terrible. The Ethel(s) look like the slapped a wig on some tiny twenty-five year old. It is crazy. :P

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I have very mixed feelings about both films.

 

I watched "Lucy" before I really knew about Lucy's whole life. So in saying that, I really enjoyed this film before actually knowing the nitty gritty bits of Lucy's life (professsional and personal). Now that I have had the chance to read severel books and research more of her life, I know that this film is full of errors and over-acting.

The actress who played Lucy sounded a lot like Lucy, but lacked in the actual looks department. I liked Danny Pino who played Desi - I thought he looked and sounded just like Desi. But agree on that the actors that played Viv and Bill were just average. I wish the movie actually went past the ILL years and into the later part of her life.

 

As for "Before the Laughter", Frances Fisher definitely fit the part and looked a lot like Lucy. But again like "Lucy" this film just didn't work. So many actual (and vital) facts were potrayed in the wrong way. As for the actor who played Desi, lets not go there!

 

Hopefully one of these days we will be lucky enough to actually see the REAL truth on our screens. Just maybe! :lucyhehe:

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As for "Before the Laughter", Frances Fisher definitely fit the part and looked a lot like Lucy. But again like "Lucy" this film just didn't work. So many actual (and vital) facts were potrayed in the wrong way. As for the actor who played Desi, lets not go there! AMEN TO THAT, SISTER!

 

Hopefully one of these days we will be lucky enough to actually see the REAL truth on our screens. Just maybe! :lucyhehe:LET'S HOPE!

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  • 1 year later...

Found an interview with Francis Fisher discussing her roles. Here is what she had to say about playing Lucy.

 

FF: That was always a dream of mine, ever since I did a set of head shots where—this photographer, after I’d done this straight head shot, he decided to play a bit, use some makeup on me, put my hair up. And Desmond Child, who was in my acting class at the time but has gone on to be a fabulous producer and musician, he saw the pictures and said, “You know, you look like a young Lucille Ball!” I said, “Really?” So I started doing research on Lucy and fell in love with her history and who she was. Not just what she did in I Love Lucy and everything she accomplished with Desi Arnaz, but just her life growing up. I thought, “Someday I’m going to play that part.” And sure enough, when I saw the casting call in Variety, I went back to that photographer 10 years later, I went out and got a couple of thrift-store dresses, hired a makeup person, and sent in my headshot as Lucille Ball. And I was the first one to audition, and after a long couple or three tours of auditioning Lucys all over the planet, they finally decided to give me the role.

 

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Found an interview with Francis Fisher discussing her roles. Here is what she had to say about playing Lucy.

 

FF: That was always a dream of mine, ever since I did a set of head shots where—this photographer, after I’d done this straight head shot, he decided to play a bit, use some makeup on me, put my hair up. And Desmond Child, who was in my acting class at the time but has gone on to be a fabulous producer and musician, he saw the pictures and said, “You know, you look like a young Lucille Ball!” I said, “Really?” So I started doing research on Lucy and fell in love with her history and who she was. Not just what she did in I Love Lucy and everything she accomplished with Desi Arnaz, but just her life growing up. I thought, “Someday I’m going to play that part.” And sure enough, when I saw the casting call in Variety, I went back to that photographer 10 years later, I went out and got a couple of thrift-store dresses, hired a makeup person, and sent in my headshot as Lucille Ball. And I was the first one to audition, and after a long couple or three tours of auditioning Lucys all over the planet, they finally decided to give me the role.

W O W , great story. Always thought she did a terrific job but it was a so so movie though.

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W O W , great story. Always thought she did a terrific job but it was a so so movie though.

Yea, that movie had great potential but the production, research, and overall casting was horrible. Francis does have the looks, but it seems they didnt take full advantage of her by slapping together a script hardly a year after Lucy's death. As I might have written earlier, I own one of the original scripts, it is honestly... garbage. Plus adding in Maurice Benard, who had barely any experience at the time. Like this is one of Desi's opening lines from the original script: "...and I, jus' want you to know how much we 'preciate your talent and hard work, putting this thin' together under da gun...you fellas know what I mean. We gonna let da audience in now, but I jus' wanna say, we gotta good show... (winks at Lucy) ... so let's have some fun!!!" This exaggerated accent was just one of the million things wrong with the character development, they were setting Maurice up from the beginning... he barely looks like Desi, he had practically no experience, and they give him this. When he was interviewed in 2010 he even said this- "My wife and I watched [L&D: Before the Laughter] on TV a few years after it came out. There was a scene and my wife looked over at me and said, 'What did you think?' She got quiet and said, 'I know, pretty bad."' This sums it up for me.

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Yea, that movie had great potential but the production, research, and overall casting was horrible. Francis does have the looks, but it seems they didnt take full advantage of her by slapping together a script hardly a year after Lucy's death. As I might have written earlier, I own one of the original scripts, it is honestly... garbage. Plus adding in Maurice Benard, who had barely any experience at the time. Like this is one of Desi's opening lines from the original script: "...and I, jus' want you to know how much we 'preciate your talent and hard work, putting this thin' together under da gun...you fellas know what I mean. We gonna let da audience in now, but I jus' wanna say, we gotta good show... (winks at Lucy) ... so let's have some fun!!!" This exaggerated accent was just one of the million things wrong with the character development, they were setting Maurice up from the beginning... he barely looks like Desi, he had practically no experience, and they give him this. When he was interviewed in 2010 he even said this- "My wife and I watched [L&D: Before the Laughter] on TV a few years after it came out. There was a scene and my wife looked over at me and said, 'What did you think?' She got quiet and said, 'I know, pretty bad."' This sums it up for me.

Agreed, although I always liked that actor, he did have SPERIENCE in a famous soap opera role, but that accent drove me crazy, so distracting and so badly done, Desi jr in Mambo Kings, playing his dad, did it so much better.

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