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Lucille Ball - Star of the Month
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Her Husband's Affairs

When she starred in Her Husband's Affairs (1947), Lucille Ball had been in films since the early 1930s, usually as the wise-cracking friend of the leading lady or cast as the lead in numerous "B" pictures, which earned her the nickname the "Queen of the B's". Her contract with MGM had recently ended and she was now working at Columbia Studios for the first time in twelve years and she needed a hit. Unfortunately, Her Husband's Affairs wasn't the solution. Television stardom with I Love Lucy was still a few years away, but her Lucy Ricardo character was already starting to take shape in this film. Movie critic Bosley Crowther in his New York Times review published on November 14, 1947, described Lucy's role as a "buttinsky wife" who sticks her nose into "her husband's affairs" - a possible model for the constantly scheming housewife in I Love Lucy.

While co-star Edward Everett Horton had only praise for Lucy in the film, saying that she "had more talent than these people [Columbia Studios' executives] realize", Her Husband's Affairs was not a box-office success. According to Crowther, the problem did not lie with Lucy. "To try to make any sense of [ Her Husband's Affairs ] would be the most arrant foolishness, for it plainly was not intended to follow a coherent line. It is simply a lot of nonsense about a husband, his buttinsky wife and a thoroughly eccentric inventor who has perfected some sort of trick cream, 'a by-product of embalming fluid' which removes whiskers, grows hair and preserves flowers. And the whole pith and moment of it is wrapped up in the husband's attempts to sell this magical ointment to a high-powered industrialist...Except for occasional incidents which are good for explosive yaks-and in most of which, significantly, Mikhail Rasumny is involved-the humor is pretty labored, the going pretty rough. Lucille Ball, an able comedienne, works hard and adroitly as the wife, and Franchot Tone springs about as the husband, but they labor to little avail. It is Mr. Rasumny as the crack-pot who, by eloquent lifts of his hands or by the art of his facial expressions, makes the farcical punctuation points. But in nonsense as well as serious drama, there must be a pattern, a plan, to sustain the humor. This film has none."

The British censors had no sense of humor when it came to a scene in which Ball and Tone sleep in what was called a "Hollywood Bed" - two twin beds that share the same headboard. The censors objected and the scene had to be reshot at great expense with the two beds set far apart with separate headboards. There is a photo in existence in which Ball and Tone eat popsicles while holding hands between the expanse of the two beds, an obvious dig at the censors.

In her autobiography, Love, Lucy, Ball herself relegates the film to only one line: "I made My Awful Wife, and Her Husband's Affairs for Columbia with Franchot Tone, and Lured [1947] for United Artists." Lucille Ball recreated her film role two years later when she starred in a radio version of Her Husband's Affairs with Hans Conried and Elliot Lewis for NBC's Director's Playhouse which was sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer.

When Her Husband's Affairs opened in New York at the Capitol Theater, the star of the stage show that accompanied it was Frank Sinatra. As noted by Crowther, "What with Frank Sinatra as the star of the Capitol's stage show, it wasn't likely that much attention would be paid to the film on the screen. So the management has graciously provided the least temptation in this respect-a featherweight farce, from Columbia, entitled Her Husband's Affairs ." On the bill with Sinatra was the Will Mastin Trio, which included a young singer named Sammy Davis, Jr.

Producer: Raphael Hakim
Director: S. Sylvan Simon
Screenplay: Ben Hecht, Charles Lederer
Cinematography: Charles Lawton, Jr.
Film Editing: Al Clark
Art Direction: Carl Anderson, Stephen Goosson
Music: George Duning
Cast: Lucille Ball (Margaret Weldon), Franchot Tone (William Weldon), Edward Everett Horton (J.B. Cruikshank), Mikhail Rasumny (Prof. Glinka), Gene Lockhart (Peter Winterbottom), Nana Bryant (Mrs. Winterbottom).
BW-85m.

by Lorraine LoBianco

SOURCES:

The Internet Movie Database

Love, Lucy by Lucille Ball with Betty Hannah Hoffman

Ball of Fire: The Tumultuous Life and Comic Art of Lucille Ball , by Stefan Kanfer VIEW TCMDb ENTRY

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