It’s no spoiler to share that in one scene of BEING THE RICARDOS, a cultural cataclysm heading our way December 10 in theatres and on Amazon PRIME, Nicole Kidman, as Lucille Ball, lets drop that her sexy boyfriend Desi Arnaz (Javiar Bardem) is going to teach her how to rumba. The embarrassing display that follows demonstrates that neither actor can pull off ten credible seconds of rumba dancing. Kidman in particular is a rigid stick. Bardem (as he comports himself across the board playing a very pulled-together gentleman, Desi Arnaz) is just messy. So how did Lucy and Desi dance, either in real life or in their show, “I Love Lucy,” or, in their separate careers?
In the video, we see that Lucy, at the start of her powerful, iconoclastic entertainment career, could oscillate like a hula dancer and had a particular yen for the “bump” of bump-and-grind. She rightly made comic moments of the rude hip “bump” in many dance farces. This is something only a female comic could, and would, do.
The video above shows that at the outset, how can we put this nicely, Lucille Ball was a galumpher. But she was always a physical creature, if somewhat unrefined; this formed a cornerstone of her comedy. At first she appears awkward and unknowing. But over time, powered by an indomitable spirit that made her Lucille Ball, she improves. Recommend viewing, 07:00, in which the duo delivers a just-fabulous comic-dance routine. Then she is seen swinging with the likes of a smooth hoofer, Van Johnson (09:34).
Here is her iconic run at classical ballet training.
Now to Mr. Arnaz. We see the hot moves of Desi Arnaz below; he never stops shifting weight, like an all-body metronome, in tandem with his drumming.
Lucille Ball was smitten by, and married to a huge star of nightclubs, and at these ubiquitous outlets, people danced. Everyone danced.The couple was known to have had a pretty athletic physical life together, a fact that goes missing in the infernal verbal chatter of BEING THE RICARDOS. Lucille is indeed shown in a nightclub audience in BEING THE RICARDOS. But she is seated.
The couple met in the course of making TOO MANY GIRLS (1940), and there she is, doing the cha-cha, at 0:56. While he is raving. That’s a lot of song and dance gone missing in BEING THE RICARDOS.
“Honey, I’m home!” …cried out Desi Arnaz in the guise of Ricky Ricardo in the nation’s most popular sitcom of its era. The thing that was so marvelous about I LOVE LUCY was that it didn’t *need* any ‘splainin’. It just was. The humor was so broad and so clearly linked to Lucy’s physical goofiness that all viewers simply got it. And dance and dancing was always intrinsic to the comedienne’s repertory. Even the theme song of the show, written by Desi, had a clever Latin beat intertwined. I suppose a powerful person like Mr. Sorkin could reinvent the Ricardos to fulfill his own agenda. But that does not make it right.