Lucy: Here I am with all this talent bottled up inside of me and you’re always sitting on the cork.
Ricky: Now Lucy…
Lucy: I’m gonna get in that show if it’s the last thing I do!
Combining three episodes from I Love Lucy’s first season, I Love Lucy: The Movie used newly-filmed scenes and introductory footage to connect the material into one full length feature film. The release of the movie was shelved due to a conflict in competing with another Lucy and Desi movie, The Long, Long Trailer. The movie was then forgotten until it was rediscovered in the Paramount vault in 2001.
The movie is bookended by a sequence involving a couple excited to be a part of the audience of the I Love Lucy show. They initially get an introduction into the behind-the-scenes workings of a television show, but then do not show up again until the end of the episodes when they are shown leaving the studio. The three episodes (“The Benefit”, “Breaking the Lease”, and “The Ballet”) used for the movie revolve around a rift between the Ricardos and The Mertzes, as well as the classic Lucy storyline of wanting to be in the big show.
As always, the I Love Lucy cast is charming, funny, and a pleasure to watch. The obvious chemistry among all four of the stars is clear right from the beginning. The first season plainly showcased the quality of the writing and acting of what would go on to be a classic sitcom. Ball really gets the opportunity to shine in her typically desperate attempts to get in on any performance she can. Arnaz is also very good in the opening sequence serving as host to the studio audience and explaining the wonders of television filming – exuding a natural warmth, especially when introducing Vance, Frawley, and Ball.
In some ways, I Love Lucy: The Movie is difficult to review as anyone familiar with the series would recognize that it is clearly made up of separate episodes, regardless of how seamless the connecting material is woven in. Plus, chances are even a casual fan has seen at least one of these episodes at some point. Essentially, the episodes are self-contained and despite the additional material they still feel like three different episodes. However, in the end, the material is a success, regardless if viewed separately or as one feature. An I Love Lucy episode is always funny and fun to watch no matter how it is presented.
The DVD also includes the only I Love Lucy episode filmed in color, “Lucy Goes To Scotland”. This episode is quite high concept that includes an element of fantasy thrown into the mix. It’s noticeably a departure from what the series is generally known for. Lucy’s dream of visiting Scotland to look up her mother’s relatives is literally framed as a dream in which conversations between Lucy and Ricky, and Fred and Ethel play a prominent role. Suffice it to say that Fred and Ethel in a dragon costume is a key component of the dream. In the end, the episode reads as an interesting experiment, but not nearly as engaging as one of the series’ regular episodes.
Other extras include a short clip from The Ed Wynn Show featuring the first joint television appearance by Lucy and Desi; clips from the Sixth Annual Emmy Awards centered on I Love Lucy; and an original commercial filmed on the set of the series. The footage from the Emmys is a special treat and offers a real glimpse into the early days of the television industry. The days of the huge awards show spectacle are years away and the ceremony feels much smaller and more informal.
Although never theatrically released, the film has already been included in the I Love Lucy: The Complete Series set. For fans that bought the seasons individually or just never purchased the complete series, this release has some nice supplementary material that is understandably well sought after.