I received the “I Love Lucy” complete boxed set for a birthday present, and this “I Love Lucy” movie was included, along with the “lost” pilot, several promos and commentaries, and a colorized version of “Lucy Goes to Scotland”. What this is, (and I’m sitting here watching it right now)is three episodes of “I Love Lucy”,– “The Benefit” “Breaking the Lease”, and “The Ballet”– filmed totally separate ( and that you’ve already seen 1,000 times), “bridged” together with “tag” scenes, filmed at a later date, with the actors doing exposition, such as “remember the time when…” and so forth. For instance: one of the “tag” scenes has “Ethel” sitting at a table in her living room with “Fred”, totaling up how much money their Woman’s Club made after putting on one of their shows. Ethel wants to give Ricky an “appreciation tea” to thank him for helping them, and she discovers that this severely depletes the profits- which leads her to remember another time she and Lucy needed money.
The highlight of this “movie”, to me, is that we actually get to SEE what an “I Love Lucy” audience looks like, as the movie opens with the ticket-holders to the show standing on-line outside, waiting to enter the “Desilu Playhouse.” An (obvious) actor couple are ushered in, marveling at the sights. The announcer intros Desi Arnaz, who is as gracious and charming as ever. Desi, in smoking jacket, explains the technical stuff to the audience,cracks a few jokes to put them at their ease, then introduces the cast, ending with his favorite Red-head, (or “Rett- Hett”, ala Desi) Lucy. You see the cast take their places, and wait to hear “action!”, which, to my recollection, is the only filmed occasion where the actors broke character and acknowledged the audience.
I should add that this “movie” was made before Lucy had “Little Ricky”, so all of it takes place during the first season. It’s also interesting to see the sets from the audience’s point of view. This film WAS intended for nationwide release, but, as the Arnazes were about to sign the contracts for the film “The Long,Long Trailer” (not released until 1954, AFTER Lucy had the baby), Desi Arnaz decided that they would only be competing with themselves at the box office, so this movie was shelved.
If you’re a “Lucy” fan, it’s a must see if only because it’s lost footage of Lucy doing “Lucy”. I don’t know if I’d have purchased this independently, had it not been included with my boxed set, but it IS an unearthed treasure in the archeological dig for fossils of great pop culture….
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I was among the few hundred “Lucy fans” to attend a “Loving Lucy” Convention in Burbank, CA in the late 1990′s, when Lucy film editor (among other titles) Dann Cahn surprised everyone by telling (in person) the whole story of how it was made, put on the shelf, mislabled by Paramount or another entity. After our “fan club” had conventions for a year or two, he got thinking about it and was granted access to the vast Paramount vaults.
It was a labor of love…he painstakingly went through many cans of film until he found “The Movie”.
Other than the initial showing in the early 50′s to Lucy, Desi and studio heads, the film was not shown until it’s public unveiling at the “Loving Lucy Convention” on the giant movie screen at the Televsion Acadamy for Arts & Sciences.
It is such thrill to see it is in wide distribution. Contrary to an earlier post…it IS on the complete “I Love Lucy” boxed set. (The boxed set that is heart shaped).
There is such a thing as “institutional memory” and “loyalty”, because Dann Cahn remembered the film and found it for us and future generations to enjoy.
To clarify…without re-hashing other reviews… yes, it is 3 episodes we have all seen “cut-together”, but the film begins and ends with the audience waiting in line to see a filming of “I Love Lucy”…then you have the 3 episodes…with new material bridging the episodes…then at the end…the TV studio audience leaves.
A nice hidden gem for Lucy fans to enjoy almost 60 years later.
Like the other reviewer, I also missed out on getting the “I Love Lucy Movie” because I didn’t want to buy the Lucy megaset AFTER purchasing the seasons individually. I was very annoyed that the bonus materials included in the megaset were not offered as a separate disc. Now it appears they are being released and I am really happy.
Just for the record…
The Lucy movie was not made as a sort of pilot for the show. It’s actually three episodes (I think it was three) from the first season that were edited together and bridged with extra linking scenes shot only for the film. Remember, when Lucy premiered it was 1951 and many Americans did not have TVs yet and therefore couldn’t watch the country’s favorite redhead. It wouldn’t surprise me if many people got TVs just to see Lucy! After it’s initial release the film kind of disappeared and was considered “lost”. It’s amazing to me with all the fame and popularity of “I Love Lucy” (since it premiered!) that the film was forgotten.