Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
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Lucille Ball is generally considered one of the funniest TV actresses of all time. When I was growing up, my parents would have on I Love Lucy reruns whenever they had the chance, so all of my initial impressions of her were based on her television program. It wasn’t until I started getting more into classic films that I realized she had a whole film career long before she started appearing on television, with roles in such classic films as Follow the Fleet and Stage Door. When I saw Miss Grant Takes Richmond had Ball in a starring role alongside William Holden, I thought it might be worth watching.
Ball plays Ellen Grant, a failing student at a secretarial school where she is training in stenography. More interested in being self-sufficient than trying to marry (something her parents disagree with her about), Grant is surprised when she is picked by Dick Richmond (played by Holden) as his new secretary for his real estate company. Even though Richmond advises her he has hired her as much for her looks as her skills, Grant seems perfectly content just finding employment despite her limited skills. Unbeknownst to her, Richmond has really only hired her because he thinks she is clueless, as his realty agency is merely a front for his real occupation…a bookie.
The problems start for Dick when Ellen starts doing a little to well at her job, as she becomes an advocate for cheaper housing, putting him in trouble with his real profession. Realizing he can’t fire her for doing too well, he instead tries to overload her with work, which only fuels her to try to do a better job. He finally decides to try to sexually harass her out of the workplace, but that is when the sparks really begin to fly…
Let me start by saying that the film is a bad movie by any means. The movie starts off quite humorously in a couple of scenes with Ball at the secretarial school, as she is unable to handle a basic typewriter, leading to some funny slapstick humor. There is also some clever dialogue involved throughout the film, mainly by Richmond’s two supporting stooges played by James Gleason and Frank McHugh. They have some of the best moments in the whole film, and steal the scenes they are in.
Still, the main problem with the film is that it just isn’t funny enough. Ball, while starting off with a bang, goes through a serious of unfunny lines and circumstances that just doesn’t bring the laughs as I think the writers expected. Holden is equally bogged down by a script that seems to save its best lines for the supporting characters and doesn’t do enough for its two main leads. While he and Ball really aren’t bad per say, they don’t do anything to liven up the movie the way they need to. Sometimes actors can rise above the material they are given to work with…that just doesn’t happen here.
Overall, there just isn’t a lot to the film. The leads, while putting in a decent amount of effort, have several scenes where they seem to just be going through the motions. The supporting cast isn’t bad, but the whole film is bogged down by a subpar script and a thin plot that there isn’t much to do with. While Lucille Ball fans might want to give it a gander to see one of her first leading roles, the casual film fan can give this movie a pass.
“Why, the president of the United States started in a haberdashery.
Do you think he’s any better off now?”…2.5 out of 4 stars
This is part of bilbopooh's Hot August Write-off, due to the relationship between Ball and Holden. Celebrate romance, picnics and the month of August!
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children up Ages 8