Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball in The Long, Long Trailer (1954)


(director: Vincente Minnelli; screenwriters: from the book by Clinton Twiss/Frances Goodrich/Albert Hackett; cinematographer: Robert Surtees; editor: Ferris Webster; music: Adolph Deutsch; cast: Lucille Ball (Tracy Collini), Desi Arnaz (Nicholas Collini), Marjorie Main (Mrs. Hittaway), Keenan Wynn (Policeman), Gladys Hurlbut (Mrs. Bolton), Moroni Olsen (Mr. Tewitt), Madge Blake (Aunt Anastacia); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Pandro S. Berman; MGM; 1954)
“A disaster for anyone but “I Love Lucy” fans.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A disaster for anyone but “I Love Lucy” fans. It’s basically the same as the popular TV show only it seems even worse (it was the number one show at the time). Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz play a newlywed couple with upward mobility ambitions. He’s a practical, bland regular guy; she’s a shrill demanding housewife. Lucy talks her reluctant construction engineer hubby into buying a trailer instead of investing in a house. They end up buying a long trailer on the installment plan, spending much more than they anticipated. The silly comedy revolves around their misadventures with the trailer as they take it on their honeymoon and drive it across the country.

Vincente Minnelli directs it as if he were a traffic cop trying to keep the show on the road by keeping it as breezy as possible, as he moves from one awkward comic incident to another. The slapstick comedy is derived from the inexperienced Desi trying to handle the trailer in traffic, stopping off at a trailer park and having busybody Marjorie Main ruin their private dinner plans, mixing a salad in the moving trailer, nearly tipping over on a steep mountain road because Lucy packed in a heavy rock collection, and Desi going over the roses as he’s backing into Lucy’s Aunt Anastacia’s driveway.

The film was a commercial success despite using rehashed material from their show and offering nothing fresh. What can you say? If you like the couple, this film should be on your must-see list. As for me, I found it grating–an awful movie, but one that is essential viewing to understand the middle-class idea of happiness through sitcoms and their love affair with these dumb kind of shows. It has everything you want to know about this genre: a castrating wife, a humiliated husband figure, consumerism at its ugliest, and witless comedy built around the couple’s misunderstandings that serves as both a means of denigration and love.

Its one musical number is “Breezin’ Along with Breeze,” which was about as adequately achieved as anything else in this slick but slight movie.