Miss Grant Takes Richmond
Miss Grant Takes Richmond is a 1949 comedy film by Lloyd Bacon, who made a name for himself directing such films as Moby Dick and the Fighting Sullivans. The film stars the legendary Lucille ball that would go on to play the iconic ditsy housewife in the ground breaking sitcom I Love Lucy. This film predates her television breakthrough by 2 years and takes place in a Realty company that is acting as a front for an illegal horse racing bookmaker. The film was distributed by Columbia Pictures, and the film was re-titled Innocence Is Bliss in the UK since the Richmond Racecourse reference would be lost to the British audience.
The Actors In Miss Grant Takes Richmond
The male lead in Miss Grant Takes Richmond is William Holden, who would continue to have great success in film between the 50’s and 70’s. He has been listed on the American film institute’s 25 greatest male actors of all time. His notable performances include Sunset Boulevard, The Towering Inferno, The Bridge On The River Kwai and Network.
The Film Plot Outline
Lucille Ball plays Ellen grant. Her ditzy character is the worst student at her Secretarial school and seemingly against all odds she is hired by Dick Richmond (Holden) to come work as a secretary as his realty company. It is soon revealed to the audience that the real estate company is just a cover for Dick and his two partners Gleason, played by James Gleason, and Kilcoyne, played by Frank McHugh, to run an illegal bookmaker in the back office. Ellen and her ditzyness was exactly what Dick was looking for as she would apparently not catch on to their scheme and if she was ever questioned, she would be able to honestly testify that she didn’t know anything about any illegal activities.
Soon Ellen tries to get Dick involved in a low cost housing real estate investment when she sees her uncle, a judge, make an eviction ruling against many of her friends when their landlord plans to tear down their property to develop an expensive new high rise. Dick tries to avoid the investment as it is too expensive but Ellen, on her own initiative, soon drives the price down and returns to the office with the vendor, as well as Ellen’s boyfriend, the district attorney, to sign the deal. Dick has no choice but to play along, even though the investment will drive him to bankruptcy. Eventually Dick’s former lover played by Janis Carter, shows up to extort him into running her larger illegal bookmaker. Dick eventually becomes indebted to her for the same amount he is supposed to be investing in the low income housing, through her making a wager on a fixed race in order to get Dick under her thumb. The film has many twists and turns with the performances by Ball and Holden always remaining engaging until the film’s romantic conclusion
The Film Reception And Legacy
Lucille Ball and William Holden’s careers would only get stronger after this film and they would eventually make a huge and lasting impact on film and television. The film was critically well received and was a box office success.