Janis Carter

Miss Grant Takes Richmond (1949)

Miss Grant Takes Richmond Poster

Graduates from the Woodruff Secretarial School are virtually guaranteed to have their choice of good jobs.  Well, that may be true for most students, but not Ellen Grant (Lucille Ball).  Despite desperately wanting to have a career, Ellen just can’t get the hang of secretarial work.  On the last day of class, Dick Richmond (William Holden) stops by the school looking to hire a secretary for his new real estate company.  Much to everyone’s surprise, Ellen is the one who gets the job.

Ellen is thrilled to have a real job, but Dick has a motive for  choosing the most inept student.  Dick’s real estate company is merely a front for his gambling racket and he thinks by hiring the worst student, he’ll be getting a secretary who won’t get wise to what’s really going on.  Meanwhile, Ellen becomes aware of her town’s housing crisis.  Ellen feels compelled to help so she pressures Dick to build an affordable housing project.  Dick pretends like he’s going along with the project and every time he makes up an excuse to back out, Ellen finds a way to solve the problem.

Eventually, Dick decides Ellen has to go but he can’t fire her without it looking suspicious.  So he tries to make her quit by giving her ridiculous amounts of work and aggressively flirting with her, but she doesn’t back down.  Dick and Ellen are even starting to fall for each other.  Meanwhile, Dick’s former girlfriend Peggy Donato (Janis Carter) wants him back so he can run her gambling racket.  He turns Peggy down, but when Ellen unwittingly takes a large bet on a horse race from Peggy, he’s suddenly indebted to her.

Peggy is willing to forgive the debt if he will be with her, but Dick won’t stand for it.  He decides to go ahead with the housing project so he can get the money from potential residents, use the money to pay his debt, and leave Ellen holding the bag when the project runs out of money.  When he sees how upset Ellen is when the project fails, he tries to make it right by giving the money back, even if it means having to be with Peggy.  But when Ellen finally figures out what Dick’s real business is and comes up with a plan to get Dick back from Peggy.

Miss Grant Takes Richmond is good for a few laughs, but it wasn’t one of my favorites.  Lucille Ball and William Holden were both pretty good in it and I liked the basic idea of the plot, but it just wasn’t executed to its full potential. While I was watching the movie, I kept thinking there was something about Ball and Holden that made me feel like I was watching two people on the verge of doing something big.  It turns out, I was right — William Holden’s career really took off the following year after starring in Sunset Boulevard and Lucille Ball became a television legend two years later with I Love Lucy.  And, of course, Ball and Holden were reunited a few years later when he appeared on an episode of I Love Lucy.