On Second Thought: “The Long Long Trailer”

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Older films are often times called classics. Many deserve this particular title, and some just have it for some strange reason. A reason, it is sad to say, that will never be understood.

Some classics have actors that were very talented and could actually act, while others, were just big names, and the lack of talent was ignored by everyone. Some of these films featured actors that were loved by millions in their television shows, of which the chemistry appeared perfect, and it could be replicated on the big screen.

For Lucille Ball (“Yours, Mine and Ours”) and Desi Arnaz (“The Escape Artist”), in the film “The Long Long Trailer”, this success is not that apparent. Perhaps it’s because the film was released back in 1953, a time when both stars were making it big in Hollywood with their show, “I Love Lucy”.

The film stars Ball and Arnaz as two people who are soon to be married, but instead of saving and buying a regular house, like Arnaz’s character wants, opt instead for a mobile home; the titular long long trailer.

The film is directed by Vincente Minnelli (“Gigi”, “Brigadoon”, “Father of the Bride”), yes, that Vincente Minnelli, and is based on the book of the same name by Clinton Twiss.

The first time that I saw this film, and I use the word “saw” very loosely. So loosely, that it’s an oversized shirt, that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus would want for one of their shows.

At that time, I’m sure I found much of what went on hilarious! What child wouldn’t? Arnaz kept bumping his head or tripping over things. Ball managed to have her own mishaps, most notably when in a moving trailer, that any sane person would have known is not a smart thing to do. While these particular incidents may look great as a child, and I’m guessing, but in order to find out, grab a child! and show them this film. However, as an adult, not so much. I sat watching and found these moments mildly humorous, but not in the manner they may have originally come off. For me, I saw what was being attempted as humor, and surprisingly can appreciate it.

When you look at the majority of comedies today, whether films or television shows, you get those obnoxious films that rely so heavily on practical humor, falling off chairs, getting hit in the head, or something else incredibly stupid that falls along those lines, that it’s hard to imagine there’s anything else in them worth watching. Yet, surprisingly, people fork over their hard earned money to watch something they could easily catch in various YouTube videos or reruns of “America’s Funniest Home Videos”, or any similar show. … I think I’ve digressed a bit… ahem… The point is that with “The Long Long Trailer”, while the jokes may land rather awkwardly, they come off more naturally than those of present day films and television. They do, however, seem to owe a lot to this early film. In this film, it’s almost as if they decided not to use the intentionally filmed footage and go with what would be deemed a blooper. A few chuckles did come from me, but that didn’t last long.

Sadly, and I hate saying this, because it practically makes this review useless, I stopped paying attention to it before it hit an hour. That left roughly 40 minutes of a film I no longer cared for. I still somewhat… sort of… okay, pretended to pay attention, but found I really didn’t need to or that I missed a thing. When you spend two 10 minute, it could’ve been less or more, segments on an incident which is supposed to be funny, when it really isn’t, after a while, you simply get bored. This actually may have led to my not caring about the film anymore.

One such incidence was when Ball and Arnaz were trying to back out of some tightly enclosed area, which you knew wouldn’t end well as you could see that coming from a mile a way, and yet they still tried. Over and over. No success. I’m sorry, but at what point is it deemed okay to continue with a joke, that we got the first time it was attempted, in something like 10 minutes of a scene? Talk about beating a dead horse. Then, there’s this boring scene that finds them driving up and down a very steep road. I think it was on a mountain…??? It was supposed to be funny as there was stuff sliding all over the place, and the trailer itself looked like it could come loose all on its own and create a new kind of mayhem. That didn’t work either. Another scene which lasted far too long, and didn’t produce a single laugh. Just eye rolling and wonderings of whether it was over finally. I practically threw a party when the film ended.

I’m not new to comedy in much older films, but shouldn’t a films comedic elements be able to stand up and be funny over the years? It’s not like we’re talking about a scary or sci-fi film that used special effects, that no doubt look bad, and worse as the film ages. What happened here? Was this just some major way to capitalize on the strange chemistry these two had on “I Love Lucy”? Whatever it was, I wish I’d stayed away.

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