The Big Street (1942) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Big Street (1942)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Big Street Photos

Movie Info

Lucille Ball delivers the finest dramatic performance of her career in this satisfying adaptation of Damon Runyon's The Big Street. Ball is cast as Gloria, aka "Your Highness," the vain and thoroughly selfish star attraction of gangster Case Ables' (Barton MacLaine) New York nightclub. Henry Fonda costars as busboy Little Pinks, who worships Gloria from afar. When Gloria is crippled by a fall downstairs-caused by a blow across the face by the sadistic Ables-Little Pinks selflessly waits upon the invalided and doggedly ungrateful songstress hand and foot. So devoted to Gloria is Pinks that he's willing to pilot her wheelchair from Manhattan to Florida so that she can renew her romance with callow playboy Decatur Reed (William Orr). Touched by Pinks' loyalty, his Runyonesque friends-Professor B (Ray Collins), Horsethief (Sam Levene), Mr. and Mrs. Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Eugene Pallette, Agnes Moorehead) and all the rest-raise enough money to open a Florida nightclub so that Gloria can put up a brave front. The ending is at once the most lachrymose and most effectively moving scene in the film, one that can only be spoiled if detailed here. Produced by Damon Runyon himself, The Big Street is one of the few completely successful filmed Runyon adaptations-as well as Lucille Ball's finest hour (and a half) on-screen.

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Henry Fonda
as Agustus 'Little Pinks' Pinkerton, II
Lucille Ball
as Gloria Lyons
Agnes Moorehead
as Violette Shumberg
Barton MacLane
as Case Ables
Eugene Pallette
as Nicely Nicely Johnson
Sam Levene
as Horsethief
Ray Collins
as Professor B
Marion Martin
as Mrs. Venus
William Orr
as Decatur Reed
George Cleveland
as Col. Venus
Vera Gordon
as Mrs. Lefkowitz
Millard Mitchell
as Gentleman George
Juan Varro
as Lou Adolia
John Miljan
as McWhirter
Julius Tannen
as Judge Bamberger
Mimi Doyle
as Nurse at Hospital
Eddie Dunn
as Mulvaney
Mary Halsey
as Bit part
Bert Hanlon
as Philip, the Weeper
John Indrisano
as Mug at Mindy's
Warren Jackson
as Mug at Mindy's
Donald Kirke
as Surgeon
George Magrill
as Mug at Mindy's
Tony Merlo
as Mug at Mindy's
John 'Skins' Miller
as Truck Driver
Ozzie Nelson
as Himself
Bob Perry
as Toupee
Ralph Peters
as Florist
Addison Richards
as Dr. Mitchell
Dewey Robinson
as Truck Driver
Sammy Stein
as Mug at Mindy's
Mary Stuart
as Bit part
Ann Summers
as Cashier
Russell Wade
as Bit part
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Critic Reviews for The Big Street

All Critics (2) | Top Critics (1)

Ball, who was born for the parts Ginger Rogers sweats over, tackles her "emotional" role as if it were sirloin and she didn't care who was looking.

February 22, 2018 | Full Review…

A dispiriting tale.

May 18, 2011 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Big Street


This Damon Runyon tale affords Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball roles very different than their usual forte: she's a bit of a anxious shrew, and he's a bit of a limp milksop. The rest of the cast adopts the lower Broadway pastiche Runyon so loved, that of warm-hearted hustlers out to con the world if necessary, but always for a good cause. Runyon himself produced this effort that could use some of the sparkle that Guys & Dolls has got in spades. Lucy gives her best performance, making this film the best example of what might've been had the ol' comedienne played it straight for the rest of her career instead of going television.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


Henry is such a doormat in this you just want to shake him but a very fine supporting cast make it worthwhile and Lucy is mesmerizing in a completely atypical role.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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