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lucy's Italian Movie
Season 5, Episode 23
Air date 16 Apr. 1956
Written by Jess Oppenheimer

Madelyn Davis Bob Carroll Jr. Bob Schiller Bob Weiskopf

Directed by James V. Kern
Episode guide
Lucy Gets Homesick in Italy
Lucy's Bicycle Trip

http://i148.photobucket.com/albums/s29/ABMfisher/GrapeStomping.jpg http://i148.photobucket.com/albums/s29/ABMfisher/GrapeFight.jpg http://i148.photobucket.com/albums/s29/ABMfisher/HomesickTourist.jpg


While on an uncomfortably cramped train ride to Rome, Lucy is offered the part of a typical American tourist in an upcoming Italian movie by director Vittorio Felipe. She is told that the English title of the movie will be Bitter Grapes. Lucy thought the title was a literal one, and she assumed that the picture was going to be about the winemaking industry and how the locals squeezed out the grape juice by foot. Ricky warns her to not go on a pursuit of "soaking up local color", but Lucy naturally doesn't listen. She finds out from the bellboy that old-fashioned winemaking still occurred in a small town named Turo, so off she goes on her journey.

In Turo, Lucy is chosen to work in the vats, stomping grapes, because her feet were as big as "large pizzas." Lucy takes the place of regular vat worker Rosa. The other worker given the task of working in the vats was a small but feisty Italian woman named Teresa. Lucy starts off on her grape-stomping adventure having lots of fun messing around in the vat. But soon, she is tired, and attempts to leave the vat. Teresa pulls on Lucy's arm, trying to get her to keep working, but Lucy shakes off Teresa and accidentally pushes her into the crushed grapes at the bottom of the vat. Teresa and Lucy end up in an all-out war in the grape vat.

Lucy returns to the hotel covered in purple-blue grape stains from head to foot. When Vittorio Felipe sees her, he explains that the movie is not  about the grape/wine industry, and that the title is just symbolic. He says that Lucy can't be in the movie, because she's currently unable to scrub off the grape stains, and he can't take a chance that she'll look normal come filming time. So, Felipe offers Lucy's small role to Ethel, since she is just as much of a typical American tourist as Lucy. Ethel accepts, and Lucy mutters "censored" remarks of jealousy about Ethel under her breath.


  • The Italian version of the movie title Bitter Grapes is Grappolo Pungente.
  • The "grape-stomping" scene is usually considered the third-most famous/classic moment of the entire series.
  • Lucille Ball didn't practice with real grapes until the day of filming. She wanted her reaction on camera to be her genuine first reaction. Her disgust of the feeling/texture of the grapes is very real. She said it felt like "stepping on eyeballs."
  • California grape farmers gladly donated the grapes, so long as the episode mentioned that, by this time in history, wine was made by modern factories, not by stomping out the grape juice by foot. The cast and crew took home the extra grapes to eat.
  • Lucille Ball later exaggerated the danger she was in during the grape-stomping scene. She sometimes said that Teresa started a fight during filming, that the fight in the grape vat wasn't scripted. The scene was, of course, scripted, but it does seem like Teresa got angry in real life and fought with Lucy harder than she was supposed to, simply because of language barriers. Lucy said that Teresa almost "drowned" her in the grapes, and that she got grapes up her nose. Lucy was in no danger of drowning, but again, Teresa did seem to hold Lucy down in the grapes longer than was needed.
  • Teresa was actually a real grape-stomper from the Napa Valley. [This may not be accurate.]
  • The other woman in the vat was Teresa Tirelli D'Amico, an opera singer and motion picture actress. She moved to the United States in the early 1920s and performed operas on stage and radio in New York City, and was hostess of a local radio program devoted to Italian-American music. She also appeared in ''The Godfather'' and ''The Godfather, Part 2'' as well as such series as ''Columbo,'' ''Baretta'' and ''General Hospital.'' She died in 1989 at age 81.
  • The bottom of the grape vat was lined with a "rubberized form of horse hair" to cushion Teresa's fall.
  • Hairstylist Irma Kusely had to take extra care in how she tinted Lucy's hair purple in the scene after the grape stomping. They already were dying and perming Lucy's hair, and Lucy had extra-sensitve skin, so they needed something gentle. Irma ended up using a very light lavender color.
  • Writer Bob Schiller says that the original script had Lucy lose one of her pretty dangly earrings in the grape vat, and when she was bent down looking for it, fellow vat member Teresa would push her down. The scene was changed, because it didn't seem realistic for a person to be able to see a lost earring in the vat.
  • Other sources report that the original script had Teresa end up stepping on Lucy's lost earring in great pain.
  • The writers were quite surprised when Lucy couldn't easily hop from one foot to the other while on the "hot" pavement at the Turo grape vineyard. For someone so talented, they were in disbelief that Lucy couldn't do something so easy.
  • The train to Rome that the Mertzes and Ricardos were on arrived at 10 am.
  • The foursome has to suffer through an overnight 13 hour train ride but in reality the trip from Florence to Rome takes about an hour and a half.


  • Ethel: (about Italian trains) They're not very roomy.

Fred: They're roomy enough. It's just that you're roomier!

  • Fred: Well, as Ricky's band manager, it's my job...

Fred, Lucy, and Ethel: ...to save money.

Ricky: I appreciate that, Fred, but you gotta draw the line someplace.

Ethel: Oh, we're lucky he hasn't got us hitchhiking.

Fred: Will you stop yappin'?

Ethel: Oh, 13 more hours in this sardine can!

Lucy: The sardines are better off. They've got all that oil to wiggle around in.

  • Lucy: You couldn't wake [Fred] up with a stick of dynamite.

Ethel: Hey, I got an idea- hey, look! There goes Gina Lollabrigida!

Fred: Where, where?! Now, what's the big idea?

Ethel: Well, you got us into this. You can just stand up!

Fred: Ethel, I'm not gonna forget this!

  • Vittorio Fellipe: Tell me, Mrs. Ricardo. Have you ever considered acting?

Ricky, Fred, and Ethel: Has she ever considered acting?!

  • Ethel: Oh, isn't [the Colliseum] magnificent?

Fred: Ah, it's nothing, Ricky.

Ethel: "Nothing"?!

Fred: Smaller than the Yankee Stadium. Joe DiMaggio would have hit 80 home runs in that hatbox.

Ethel: Oh, what can I expect when I expose him to culture?

  • Ethel: Oh, I don't think those Italian actresses are so much. Not one of 'em's got her hair combed.

Fred: Well, they look great to me.

Ethel: If I let my hair go like that, you'd never let me hear the end of it.

Fred: Honeybunch, if the rest of you looked like that, I wouldn't care if you were bald!

  • Ricky: (sees "earthy" Italian actresses in magazine) Well, we don't call that "earthy" in Cuba.

Lucy: Oh? What do you call it?

Ricky: We have five words for it- "ay-yi-yi-yi-yi"!

  • Bellboy: (also sees "earthy" girls in magazine) Ay-yi-yi-yi-yi!

Ricky: How about that? It's the same thin' in Italy!

  • Lucy: Did you hear that, honey? It's going to be called Bitter Grapes. I wonder what part they want me for?

Fred: Oh, you're probably gonna be one of the bunch!

  • Ethel: So, you find a vineyard. What are you gonna do about the fact that you don't speak Italian?

Lucy: I know a few words. What I don't know I'll shrug.

  • Ethel: What am I gonna tell Ricky when he asks where you are?

Lucy: Tell him anything you want. I have nothing to hide. Tell him the truth.

Ethel: Okay, I'll tell him the truth.

Lucy: Don't you dare!

  • Ricky: Did she go around suckin' up local color?
  • Fred: (sees grape-stained Lucy) Boy, when it comes to soakin' up local color, you don't mess around!
  • Lucy: Well, couldn't I be a typical American tourist who is homesick for America, and that's why I'm blue?
  • Vittorio Felipe: (to Ethel) You are a typical American tourist if I ever saw one.