The film, which premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival last month, focuses on how the I Love Lucy stars were able to change the game in Hollywood throughout their interracial marriage and years as comedy geniuses.
“Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz risked everything to be together. Their love for each other led to the most influential show in the history of television, I Love Lucy,” the documentary logline reads.
Arnaz, who was an immigrant from Cuba, became a bandleader and eventual producer and “technical pioneer” amid his marriage to Ball. According to the movie’s synopsis, the New York native, who came from a humble background before starting her modeling career, “found her calling in comedy,” first in radio and then on television.
“When Lucille was finally granted the opportunity to have her own show, she insisted that her real-life spouse, Desi, be cast as her husband,” the description concludes. “Defying the odds, they reinvented the medium, on screen and behind the cameras.”
While the power couple divorced in 1960 after 20 years of marriage, their production company, Desilu Productions, and shared success as both actors and showrunners didn’t end when they split.
The twosome each found love for a second time, with Ball tying the knot with Gary Morton in 1961. The couple were together until her death in 1989. Arnaz, who died in 1986, was married to Edith Hirsch from 1963 until she passed away in 1985.
“Lucy and Desi really stayed in each other’s lives and hearts and worked together and were with each other until the very end. And we say in the film, they both went on to have very successful, long-lasting second marriages,” producer Amy Poehler said in January during an interview for Variety’s Virtual Sundance Studio. “[But] we grew up with this feeling that as bad as things get ruptured — as much as Lucy screws up, as much as Ricky doesn’t understand what’s going on, as bad as the pillow fight is or the burnt roast — it’s gonna be OK.”
She added: “And so it was really beautiful to know that, in their own complicated and much more human and real way, Lucy and Desi hung in there together.”
The Wine Country actress, 50, gushed over her film’s main subjects, noting how important it was to bring Ball and Arnaz’s story back to life.
“One of the goals was to use Lucy and Desi’s relationship as a structure in which to remind people that when you use terms like icons and legends … that there are people behind it,” Poehler explained. “Lucy and Ricky were characters, and Lucy and Desi were people.”
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