THE LUCY & DESI COLLECTION
While the sitcom I LOVE LUCY is regarded as one of the indispensable classics of the genre, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz also appeared in three theatrical films together, which pale in comparison to their greatest entertainment collaboration. Fans will always remember the scatterbrained plots of Lucy Ricardo, and her Cuban bandleader husband Ricky, who continued to love his wife no matter what type of hysterical scrape she managed to get herself into. As for the movies that Lucy and Desi made together, they provide mild enjoyment for their fans, with the later two offering an opportunity to see the couple in color.
TOO MANY GIRLS
TOO MANY GIRLS is most notable as being the film in which Lucy and Desi met and fell in love, rather than any artistic contribution it made to the cinema. Still, TOO MANY GIRLS does have its own mild charms, thanks to appearances by Richard Carlson, Ann Miller, Eddie Bracken, and Frances Langford. Based upon a Broadway show and featuring tunes by Rodgers & Hart, TOO MANY GIRLS finds Lucy portraying 'Connie Casey, a mildly madcap heiress, who is sent off to her fatherís somewhat backwater alma mater. Desi is Manuelito Lynch, one of the four Ivy League football players that have been hired by Connieís dad to serve as her bodyguards. In an unsurprising turn of events, Lucy and Desi donít ride off into the sunset at the end of this 1940 production.
THE LONG, LONG TRAILER
Although directed by the legendary Vincente Minnelli, THE LONG, LONG TRAILER doesnít show any of the brilliance of Minnelliís more notable films. The plot of THE LONG, LONG TRAILER finds Lucy and Desi portraying newlyweds Tacy and Nicky Collini. Not willing to be separated by Nickyís engineering job, which keeps him on the road continuously, the couple opt to set up housekeeping in a huge aluminum travel trailer, instead of a more traditional domicile. Of course, continuously towing all the conveniences of home behind them proves to be anything but convenient for the couple, who soon find themselves bickering and their marriage on shaky ground. THE LONG, LONG TRAILER features a number of amusing sequences, but the sitcom situations are better suited to half hour increments. The cast of THE LONG, LONG TRAILER also includes Marjorie Main and Keenan Wynn.
In FOREVER DARLING Lucy and Desi portray Susan and Lorenzo Vega, a married couple whose marriage has lost its romance due to his job as a chemist. James Mason is Susan's guardian angel, who comes to Earth to help her save her marriage. Not surprisingly, Susan and Lorenzo are pretty much Lucy and DesiÖ sans the scatterbrain redhead hijinks and befuddled Cuban bandleader. However, James Mason proves to be the filmís biggest delight, as he is having a grand old time spoofing his own matinee idol image. Why else would Susanís guardian angel look just like James Mason? The cast of FOREVER DARLING also features Louis Calhern, John Emery, John Hoyt, Natalie Schafer, and Nancy Kulp.
Warner Home Video has made has made each film comprising THE LUCY & DESI COLLECTION in a good-looking presentation. TOO MANY GIRLS is black and white and properly framed at 1.37:1; both THE LONG, LONG TRAILER and FOREVER, DARLING are Technicolor-ful, with the former appearing in 1.37:1 full screen and the latter being 16:9 enhanced 1.78:1 widescreen. TOO MANY GIRLS is the oldest of the three and this RKO production has the least impressive image quality, due to the film elements not being as well preserved as the color films. Both THE LONG, LONG TRAILER and FOREVER, DARLING were produced by MGM and released in IB Technicolor prints. Image quality is decidedly stronger on the later two films, both producing sharp and nicely defined pictures. Colors are nicely rendered on the MGM titles and come close to approximating the look of Technicolor prints. The black and white film has good contrast and grayscale. Blemishes and signs of age are most prevalent on the black and white film, but even then, itís not too bad. Each film displays grain to varying degrees, but is generally mild. Digital compression artifacts are always well contained.
Each of the three films has a fairly solid Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. As expected, most of the background hiss and other audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving the films with a generally smooth and reasonably pleasant sound. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. THE LONG, LONG TRAILER contains a French language track and all three films feature English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extra features on each film. TOO MANY GIRLS includes the vintage musical short Frances Carroll And The Coquettes, classic cartoon Shop, Look And Listen, plus a Theatrical Trailer. THE LONG, LONG TRAILER includes the vintage Pete Smith Specialty short Ain't It Aggravatiní?, 1954 MGM cartoon Dixieland Droopy, plus a Theatrical Trailer. FOREVER, DARLING includes an excerpt from the MGM Parade TV series featuring Lucy and Desi, plus a Theatrical Trailer.
Warnerís DVD release of THE LUCY & DESI COLLECTION offers solid presentations for each of the three films and a few nice extras. While not up to the caliber of their classic sitcom, THE LUCY & DESI COLLECTION offers a different look at the stars of I LOVE LUCY and something that there fans will want check out.
Note: THE LUCY & DESI COLLECTION is available for $29.98, THE LONG, LONG TRAILER and FOREVER, DARLING are $14.98 and TOO MANY GIRLS is only available as part of the set.
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