I love Lucy. Aaron Sorkin? Not so much.
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How many times have I watched Lucy and Ethel in that scene from I Love Lucy. The one where the factory candy line speeds up so fast that the two of them must stuff their mouths and shove chocolates down their clothes so as not to fall behind.
It is still hilarious to watch.
It is as sharp a criticism of the relationship of capital and labor as one could ever expect from network television in the fifties.
When I heard that Hollywood’s favorite liberal, Aaron Sorkin, had made a movie, Being the Ricardos, about Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo, I naturally wanted to watch it.
The movie’s time frame is supposed to be a week when Hollywood columnist Walter Winchell exposed the fact that Lucy had once checked a box that she was a member of the Communist Party.
The movie is not very good. The politics are worse.
Winchell was a stooge of the studio bosses. When the Red Scare of the era of Senator Joe McCarthy came to Hollywood it came in the form of the Blacklist and Red Channels.
The studio bosses gave the order that the House UnAmerican Activities Committee should come to Hollywood. Progressive industry political and union activists were forced to appear. If they didn’t repent and name others they would no longer be hired in the movie industry.
The most famous of those that were called before HUAC were known as The Hollywood Ten. They were ten screenwriters. Dalton Trumbo was one. Some were communists. Some were progressives. All refused to testify because they believed the government had no right to ask and no right to ask them to name others.
Aaron Sorkin is a screenwriter as well as a director.
He shames the profession of both.
Sorkin ignores the true history of the Blacklist and pursues a common narrative that there were communists but it wasn’t right that some “innocent” people got caught up in the net of McCarthyism.
He even includes a totally made up scene where FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover is on the phone speaking to a I Love Lucy studio audience and announces that Lucy is no Red. The audience stands and cheers.
Hoover never did any such thing. In fact he kept a file on the political activities of Lucille Ball for years.
Sorkin did similar phony history writing in The Trial of the Chicago Seven, where among other fictions he tried to clean up the FBI in that movie too.
It makes me wonder what Sorkin would have done if he had been called as a witness before HUAC.