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Reviews & Ratings for
The Big Street More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

One of Lucille Ball's Best Performances

Author: Shawn Ashley (Shawn8706) from United States
28 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just watched this film on Turner Classic Movies, and I must say, this was a very touching movie. Although Lucille Ball is known as the goofy, but lovable Lucy Ricardo on 'I Love Lucy,' her role in this movie is completely different. She plays Gloria Lyons, a lounge singer with an attitude. She meets Henry Fonda, in the movie, nicknamed Pinks, (who is totally in love with her), and she gets him a job as a waiter. Well, one night, a man whom Gloria works for, smacks her in the face, sending her down a flight of stairs. Pinks goes to the hospital to visit her, and finds out that she will never be able to walk or dance ever again. He decides to take care of her. But, Gloria being stuck in a wheel-chair, is constantly bossing Pinks around and being mean to him. She decides that she wants to go to Florida. Pinks takes her to Florida, and still waits on her hand and foot. Her health starts getting worse, and she ends up back in the hospital. Pinks starts to worry that she won't have much longer to live, so he decides to throw her a surprise party. When she finds out that she's the guess of honor, Pinks asks her to dance. He carries her and dances with her on the dance floor, and when he sets her on the floor, trying to get her to walk, her heart suddenly gives out, and very sadly, she dies. Pinks picks her up, carries her up to the balcony, and looks at the moon, holding Gloria in his arms.

Like I said, this is a very touching film. If you are a Lucille Ball fan, I highly suggest this movie.

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5 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Good Cast In Disagreeable Movie

Author: David (Handlinghandel) from NY, NY
30 November 2004

This must be the only mainstream S&M movie turned out by Hollywood after the Code and before, well, maybe "The Damned." The more cruel to the Henry Fonda character the Lucille Ball character is, the more he loves her. He gives her all his money. He risks his life.

I guess this is meant to be heartwarming, like the far more successful Runyon tale "Lady for A Day." I hadn't seen it in ten years and back then I thought the Ball character unspeakably mean to the Fonda character. Now it seems as if he is, figuratively speaking, lapping it up. And the whole thing is an unpalatable mix of the harsh, the cutesy, and the maudlin.

(The final scenes in which he makes her wheelchair-bound, dying person into royalty are very mawkish.

On the other hand, Fonda is excellent. Ball -- well, she always, even in her TV series, which I like, came across as hard; and here she plays a woman with a heart of pure cast-iron. Eugene Palette is always great to have around and Agnes Moorehead! What a marvelous actress she was. She shows a flair for comedy here. (Guess that wouldn't be surprising to the 99.9% of the public who know her, if at all, as Endora on "Bewitched" rather than for her 1940s roles such as the great performance she gives in "The Magnificent Ambersons.")

On the other hand, Fonda is excellent. Ball -- well, she always, even in her TV series, which I like, came across as hard; and here she plays a woman with a heart of pure cast-iron. Eugene Palette is always great to have around and Agens Moorehead! What a marvelous actress she was. She shows a flair for comedy here. (Guess that wouldn't be surprising to the 99.9% of the public who know her, if at all, as Endora on "Bewitched" rather than for her 1940s roles such as the great performance she gives in "The Magnificent Ambersons.")

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8 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

A Nasty Lucy Not Fun To Watch

Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
3 December 2006

Two big and popular acting stars: Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball, and one famous writer - Damon Runyan - BUT, who do you have? A very annoying and boring film. Who wants to watch and listen as a nasty, spoiled woman is miserable a nice, adoring fan for almost the whole movie? The real sad thing was that the nastier she (Ball, playing against type) was to him (Fonda, playing a busboy!), the more he seemed to love her. There are people like that, of both sexes, and it's pathetic.

This also wouldn't appeal to most people because almost all of us have such a positive image of "Lucy," so why ruin things and watch her play this role of the opposite: a sadistic. rotten person? No thanks.

Yes, there is an audience for "downers," meaning depressing movies, but I'm not in that group so that's another reason this film did not appeal to me.....and, I assume, to most folks.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful Melodrama

Author: Irecken from Taylor, Michigan
9 January 2002

This lovely and enchanting film's plot may have some holes as well as some rough dialogue, but the chemistry between all the actors is

superb, especially with the three principals, Lucille Ball as an acidic nightclub entertainer, Henry Fonda as the naive but likeable Little Pinks, who is smitten with her, and Agnes Moorhead as Little Pinks' overeating friend Violette.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:


Author: Tamar Pagant ( from home
27 November 1998

I love this movie--I've always liked Lucille Ball, and the "I Love Lucy" show, but she played the same character so much, and so often, that it was very refreshing to see her play Gloria Lyons, the heartless showgirl.

The plot is good, but the lines and action are a little shaky. But, the acting is great, especially the acting from Ball. It proves she can really act.

Pinks and Gloria are two of the most unlikable people--you really want to bash Pinks over the head sometimes--but they make a great pair.

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2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

For Lucille Ball fans only

Author: funkyfry from Oakland CA
12 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I found this film to be highly disappointing, basically I would only recommend it to Lucille Ball fans. Henry Fonda plays a guy who thinks that a selfish arrogant nightclub singer (Ball) is a goddess. He even calls her "Your Majesty". At the end of the film we're supposed to believe that Ball's character has changed her ways, magically, upon realizing that Fonda is in love with her -- somehow she didn't notice while he was wheeling her in a wheelchair from New York to Florida. The film's only real redeeming quality is the good character performances from Fonda's friends, who spout Damon Runyan dialogue with appropriate panache and rough grace. This film attempts to mix drama and comedy but fails to achieve either with anything but sporadic success.

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2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball

Author: jyoung-11 from London, England
29 October 2001

Now an established Hollywood star with 'The Grapes of Wrath' and 'Jesse James' under his belt, Honda Fonda went on to team up with Lucille Ball in 'The Big Street' in order to pad out his c.v. and keep himself busy. There was nothing significant in this film and should not be included in the Henry Fonda canon.

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3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

The potential to engage is damaged by unconvincing writing but the support cast save the film

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
25 May 2005

In New York's Broadway district everybody has a hustle, an angle or a story to tell. In the middle of this is Little Pinks, a busboy in the local clubs. Despite being a bit sappy and naïve, Pinks is a good kid, hard working and, unfortunately, besotted by nightclub singer Gloria Lyons – even though she is way out of his league in terms of money. Lyons is hard as nail and a flirt – but when her mobster boyfriend sees her expressing an interest in other men he hits her, crippling her in the process Pinks looks after her – even when everyone else is gone. Taking her into his home, Pinks continues to look after her but Gloria is ungrateful and unlikable, at least to all except the loving Pinks.

Mostly forgotten by the passage of time this is, in essence, a good film that has a gentle message at its core and lots of colourful characters around the edges. The narrative is good but is weakened by some consistent aspects that I found to be unconvincing, annoying or just too sentimental. A couple of examples would be just how sappy Pinks is, him calls Gloria "your highness" was annoying, and he is just not convincing as a real person mainly because he is so sappy and weak willed. These damage the story and did limited how into it I could get even if the core of it is enjoyable and makes for a nice driver; if only they had dropped the unconvincing side of the film, it would have worked a lot better.

The cast are good but like the body of the film, the colourful support cast is really where the film is best. Fonda is far too sappy and lacking in the flaws of a real person – his performance is unconvincing and it takes away a lot. Ball is very strong by contrast but, alongside Fonda she could have softened it a bit and still been effective (one of them had to come towards the other). Not being able to like her is a bit of a problem but she is good anyway. The gold is in the support and the film is made a great deal better by the work of Levene, Collins, Palette and Cleveland to name a few – basically all the "Broadway" types who are used well in the comic moments such as the committee meetings, the argument at the Holland tunnel and others.

Overall it is a mixed film, and I can see why many viewers will not think well of it – too much of it doesn't work and takes away from the potential it had. Should it have been more convincing then the story would have been a lot more engaging and enjoyable. It is OK as it is but it is easy to see how it could have been better with minor tweaks to the script. Thank goodness then for the support cast and portrayal of the Noo Yark hustling classes, their comic input is a real life saver and makes the film worth seeing despite all the weaknesses in the narrative. More missed potential than targets hit, but worth a look.

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6 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Aside from some wonderful supporting characters, this is one of the WORST films of the 1940s!

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
9 November 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this movie with my family and we were all shocked at just how amazingly bad this film could be! On the plus side (and there is ONLY ONE), the supporting characters were really cute and their Damond Runyan dialog was hilarious (any film with Eugene Palette can't be 100% bad--in this case, only 99.44% bad). However, despite wonderful support which at least allows the film to earn a 2, everything else about this film was absolutely horrid--and I am talking about worse than THAT HAGAN GIRL, PARNELL or SWING YOUR LADY bad!!! So bad that I wonder how this movie slipped by being in the FIFTY WORST MOVIES book by Harry Medved!

The very biggest problem with the film are the leads, Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball. Fonda's character is so dumb and such a chump for Lucille that he defies common sense--no one is that stupidly in love with anyone--especially someone so thoroughly unlikable! Lucille Ball, to put it bluntly, is nastier and more self-centered than Hitler or Kim Il-Jong and yet this idiot keeps calling her "your Highness" and doing everything for this horrible invalid. There's only so much sympathy ANYONE can have until they ultimately kill the person they are caring for--and Lucille was that bad!!! Because Fonda is such a sap, after a short time you stop feeling sorry for him and start hating him. Don't believe me?! Well, Lucille in her wheelchair throws a fit and insists that Fonda MUST take her to Florida for the winter. However, they have zero money--none. So, she demands that he pushes the wheelchair from New York to Florida,....and he DOES!!!!! So, not only is he totally stupid, but he does the impossible. And if this doesn't convince you Fonda is 100% stupid and too-dumb-to-live, when he commits a robbery, he accidentally lets his Social Security card fall out at the scene of the crime to identify who he was!!!!! As for Lucille, while her being truly despicable could have been a nice departure from her usual sweet or sassy roles, she truly descended to the level of almost being Satan. Do you need another example of her evil? Well, when they finally get to Florida, Lucille insists that Fonda MUST pretend to be her butler and carry her about the beach. Then, when an old boyfriend of hers shows up and sees she is handicapped, she screams at and berates Fonda!! With her being that bad and him being that dumb, the movie can't help but sink from under itself.

Apart from the total unlikability of the leads, the film abounds with clichés and sappiness. The most egregious examples are when the cops find out that it was Fonda who committed the robbery but let him go because,....well I really DON'T know why!! And also, and this is the part that made our skin crawl, at the very end, Fonda lifts Lucille out of her wheelchair in front of the crowd at the huge party and SHAZAM--she can stand and actually kind of dance even though she's paralyzed!!!! At this point, mercifully, this awful film ended. Thank goodness, otherwise I might have thrown my shoe through the TV tube!!

Don't watch this film unless you are at least as dumb as Fonda's character. Don't say I didn't warn you!!!

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1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Maybe Lucy's Best------But a Good Movie-----Not!

Author: malvernp from United States
6 December 2006

"The Big Street" is an appropriately obscure film that is probably remembered today (if at all) as the dramatic breakthrough that moved Lucille Ball's career to its next level. As for co-star Henry Fonda, this film presented him in the most unlikely of roles------as a "door mat" cipher-like character to Lucille Ball's thoroughly unpleasant night club singer.

This movie has a great supporting cast-----and Damon Runyon could write stories that were often enjoyable. There is no question that Fonda has been likable and interesting in a wimpy-type role ("The Lady Eve") or that Lucille Ball could be appealing when playing a character with an edge to her ("Stage Door").

But it is tough to follow two lead characters----the Fonda guy who is really a human punching bag with zero self-esteem----and the Ball singer who is consistently mean, nasty, cruel and almost sadistic in her indifference to kindness and decency----and expect us to become engaged by them in a story that doesn't change who or what they are until almost the very end.

This kind of set up can on a rare occasion result in a good movie ("Of Human Bondage" or "Midnight Cowboy") but more often than not, the film becomes a real pain to watch ("The Mountain").

Ball thought she did her best screen work here---and she may be right. A root canal procedure can be seen as a work of art to those who appreciate the complexities of dentistry----but that doesn't make it any more palatable to the patient.

For those looking for a sado-masochistic main stream film involving top drawer performers, this one's for you. All others-----beware!

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