Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Long, Long Trailer

lucy and dezi

The 1953 film, "The Long, Long Trailer" has to be one of my favorite comedies. It must have been quite a gamble to make a film along the same lines as a weekly hit TV show, but that's exactly what Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz decided to do. With the light but loving hand of Director Vincente Minnelli (who also directed another of my favorites, "Meet Me in St. Louis") and screenplay by Albert Hackett, this film was a box-office success.

The plot of "The Long, Long Trailer" is, in fact, extremely simple; the humor, in some ways, more subtle, than the "I Love Lucy" TV show.

When bride-to-be Tacy (Lucille Ball) suggests to her very sensible fiancé the idea of buying a trailer, he thinks she must be joking. But no, think of all the money they'd be saving! Since Nicky's engineering job obliges them to travel around the country, why not take the home with them? Eventually, despite his reservations, she has her own way and so begins a series of hilarious episodes all heading toward a predictable marital disaster.

Here is one of my favorite lines :

Nicky: What? You said turn right!

Tacy: No, I didn't.

Nicky: You said "turn right here."'

Tacy: You didn't let me finish. I was going to say, "Turn right here.. left." 

Ball and Arnaz never looked happier or made a more attractive couple than here in this film. In some ways, compared with their TV show, cinema allowed Lucy and Desi more room to explore the dynamic of their relationship. She is much less of a disobedient child and Desi is much less of a frowning parent.

The cinematography is stunning, especially with the added shock of watching Lucy and Desi in vibrant Technicolor. The script takes them out of the dreary TV apartment set and out them in the wide open spaces of the Great Northwest. (Even the stage sets look glorious.)

The co-stars are wisely used mostly as foils for Lucy and Desi. Kennan Wynn has a brief appearance (with a single line of dialogue) as a perturbed policeman directing traffic. Marjorie Main, of Ma Kettle fame, stars as the overly helpful trailer park neighbor. In the clip below we also see Tacy's Aunt Anastasia played by Madge Blake, who was later to play in many TV shows as side characters. (Most notably she was the mother of Larry Mondello, one of Beaver Cleaver's pals.)

Now, the infamous meeting the relatives scene.

Nicely arranged scene, wasn't it? Most of the film is composed of scenes just like this.  By the way, I love the way Tacy accidentally introduces "poor" Grace, who becomes quite gleeful from the chaos that the trailer has wrought.

Anyway, if you get a chance to see this all but forgotten film, you won't be wasting your time.

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