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Daily Dose of Doozy #10: Slapstick in Technicolor: Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz


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#41 BLACHEFAN

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 05:58 PM

1. That it makes the scene stand out with every minute detail to the props and the setting of the scene inside the trailer.

 

2. He makes the scene diagonal in reference to the set, while the camera sits up straight to give the audience some jaggedness. The editing involves the use of an insert shot to describe the action of the trailer and the tool supporting the trailer. Long camera takes without interruption that was incorporated from the I Love Lucy (1951) tv series. The depth of focus is not deep or a combination of flat and deep, but it was flat from the foreground giving it some clarity in the background.

 

3. Lucille Ball's contribution was to prove to other comedians that a woman could be both an actress and the head of a television studio which did not happen before then. She also managed to be the forerunner of the first slapstick comedienne on television as a role model for later comedienne's on television in the future. Vincent Minnelli was able to use the techniques from her television show such as the long takes without editing interruptions as well as allowing the audience see the action from both outside and inside the prop setting.


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#42 BLACHEFAN

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 05:49 PM

In honor of the Three Stooges for the film Have Rocket Will Travel (1959), I present to you this dedication from the artist Cirque Du So What and their take on slapstick comedy.

http://youtu.be/Yt9lg2nilPo


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#43 gtunison

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 05:23 PM

It didn't add to the gags if looked at from today's eyes. But in the fifties, people knew Lucy and Desi as little black and white specks inside a box. So to that audience it was probably fun to see it in color and on a giant movie screen.

 

The fact that the trailer was stuck in the mud at an angle provides some laughs. The camera is level but the shot is on an angle and it put the viewer in the scene.

 

Lucy is funny trying to get into bed. She manages it if she stays stiff but when she relaxes, she falls out of bed. Then she gets up and the jack falls and so does the trailer and Lucy right out the door into a huge puddle of mud. Lucy is funny doing the simple everyday things of life. She knows how to exaggerate every muscle in here body in every situation, and she is the queen of make believe. She could make reading the telephone book funny.
 


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#44 drmichaelbowman

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 05:18 PM

1.   What do you think the addition of color adds to this scene and its gags?

 

Honestly, I don’t think color adds anything to the gags.  Funny is funny whether its color or black and white. 

 

2.   What are some of the techniques that Vincente Minnelli uses in this scene to make it more cinematic than a TV show such as I Love Lucy? Consider, for example, camera angles, depth of focus, or editing strategy.

Desi and Lucy pioneered many techniques that are still used today (using a 3-camera set-up to film the I Love Lucy Show before a live audience, retaining the rights of each episode that could be re-run later, building their own Desilu Studio).  The production costs and time schedule of shooting a 30 minute show before a live audience that would fill an entire television season limited opportunities for lighting, editing, blocking etc.  By contrast, Minnelli could be more creative with lighting that highlighted Lucy’s good looks and red hair, special lightning and rain effects, mud puddles, The cinematographer could create better mood lighting.  The film had a more cinematic look than the TV show.

 

3.   What are some of Lucille Ball's contributions to the history of slapstick comedy, and how does Minnelli use her physical comedy in this clip?

 

The gags and bits used in this clip could have easily appeared in a Chaplin, Keaton, Laurel and Hardy film.  One of Lucy’s greatest assets as a performer was her physicality.  In this film, she falls down, lands in mud, etc. to get laughs.  Think back to some of her greatest bits on her TV show (the candy conveyor belt, stomping grapes, etc.) and you realize what a great physical comedienne she was.


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#45 Lawrence Wolff

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 04:56 PM

1) Other than seeing Lucy's red hair, the color did not add to the comedy for me. Perhaps it helped making the low lighting by the candles seem more realistic. The mud looked real in color, but it didn't really add to the joke for me.

 

2) The angles of the props (due to the trailer being stuck in the mud) made the scene more amusing.. And they let you know that some kind of joke due to the angle was going to occur. Lucy trying to get on the bed was the first but then it lead to the big surprise with her flying out the door and into the mud. And Desi adds a line to finish the scene. Well done!

 

3) Lucy was the rare female to be able to perform physical comedy, but usually on TV. (Joan Davis being the woman in film that could pull off physical comedy.) Being attractive helped her be more likeable as jokes happening to an attractive woman make her look less like a clown, but she's still the subject of the joke.

 

I think Lucy's contribution is in line with that of Laurel and Hardy in that the joke/situation was always POSSIBLE, unlikely to occur, but POSSIBLE. That bit of realism kept her comedy from going over the top and kept her on television for many. many years.


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#46 RhondaWI

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 04:47 PM

1.  The use of color allows a viewer to see how truly beautiful Lucille Ball was and how she can make any color be forgotten in her acting style.

 

2.  You have the view of the entire room, the concept that they are truly embracing what is going on with the trailer, but the story continues from room to room. It is like a real trailer would be, not the set concept that is seen in sitcoms.  His angles, the depth and the lining up of shots and props is perfect.  They are tilted but the world still goes on-especially when she is trying to go to bed.  She is going to read, she's tired, but the trailer is tilted (and more is yet to come with the outside scene) yet she moves on - her normal world is now tilted and his directing style now makes it our normal world - even though it is abnormal.

 

3.Lucille Ball, every gesture, smile, eyebrow raising, body movement can be poetry in motion.  She controls the laughs - Desi is her straight man and he really is just there as a prop to a degree.  Minnelli knows how to "harness" her talent - subtle, but not overbearing. Funny, but not too much.  Loving, but not sappy. Great scene to watch.


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#47 riffraf

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 04:21 PM

1.     What do you think the addition of color adds to this scene and its gags?

 

By accentuating Lucille Ball’s beautiful red hair, film studios were effectively competing with the upstart television studios in a way they could not technically respond. 

 

2.     What are some of the techniques that Vincente Minnelli uses in this scene to make it more cinematic than a TV show such as I Love Lucy?

 

Some of the camera angles used by Vincent Minnelli give the audience a feeling of the long trailer’s lack of balance as well as an impending disaster.  In spite of the wide screen format there’s a definite sense of claustrophobia with the narrow passages and tightly placed furniture the actors must navigate over and around.

 

3.  What are some of Lucille Ball’s contributions to the history of slapstick comedy, and how does Minnelli use her physical comedy in this clip?

 

Lucille Ball was a televison pioneer by bridging the best of comedy movies and slapstick of the past to transitioning into television of the 1950s.  It would also be Desilu Productions, formally RKO Studios, that would turn out such groundbreaking television entertainment such as The Untouchables and Star Trek.     


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#48 Marianne

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 03:24 PM

1. What do you think the addition of color adds to this scene and its gags?

It’s a lot easier to feel Lucy’s discomfort in the slippery mud when you can see it in color: all that brown slimy goo. What I found especially amusing was the fact that you couldn’t tell the color of her pajamas or her hair after she fell in the mud.
2. What are some of the techniques that Vincente Minnelli uses in this scene to make it more cinematic than a TV show such as I Love Lucy? Consider, for example, camera angles, depth of focus, or editing strategy.

The first scene in the clip shows everything at an angle because the trailer is stuck in the mud at an angle. Viewers don’t see that first, however; they see Lucy’s back walking away from the camera into the middle ground. The actors make this scene amusing because they take the trailer on an angle in stride: taping the glasses to the table, drinking their wine with straws. No violence, but it’s definitely exaggerated and physical, especially in the next scene, when Lucy takes a tumble 2½ times: 1½ times off the bed and once out the door of the trailer! Minnelli could take his time building each scene, whereas the television show I Love Lucy makes more abrupt cuts from one idea to the next.
3. What are some of Lucille Ball’s contributions to the history of slapstick comedy, and how does Minnelli use her physical comedy in this clip?

Could Lucille Ball’s contribution be the fact that she’s a woman doing slapstick? Others have done it before her (Mabel Normand comes to mind), but Lucille’s the star, even though she’s working with her husband. That must have been a big deal in 1954.

An aside: Lucille Ball is not just a slapstick comedian. For example, she stars in The Dark Corner (1946), a film noir where she delivers many of the best lines (in a running baseball metaphor). And she’s not playing for laughs.


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#49 MrZerep

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 02:48 PM

The scene is an intimate one and the muted colors add to the intimacy, with the occasional lightning flash to add a bit of "excitement" to the lighting.  Lucy's hair is not as vividly red as in full light or sunlight, but the trademark red is there.

 

The set itself is tilted, since the trailer is stuck in the mud.  That already is a set up to any slapstick gag that will ensue.  The camera angles to me are medium shots.  We are in a trailer that looks large on the outside but is really cramped on the inside.  The dinner is sweet and you tend to forget where they are, sort of, until you really look closely at the wine's angle in the glass, the candles.  More cinematic than the TV in that there is the luxury (sometimes) of a larger budget so the director and the designers can be more creative.  They can film to their hearts content and later worry about editing and running time.  TV had to be planned to include commercials...27 minutes to tell a story as opposed to 90 or 120 minutes.
 

What can be said about this hilarious woman?  Her other films demonstrate she could perform physical comedy as opposed to singing, even though her singing voice was cause for many a funny moment on the tele series.  Minelli had an easy task as the audiences knew what trouble Lucille Ball would go through and he could suggest to Lucy what and how far her gags could go.   Very few women comedians could excel at physical and verbal slapstick and Lucille Ball is/was the reigning queen of comedy.


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#50 Motorcitystacy

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 02:13 PM

I am happy to say that here in Detroit we have plenty of opportunities to see classic films in historic movie theatres and the Redford Theatre showed "The Long, Long Trailer" a couple of years ago in the summer as it was an appropriate time of year when many take a vacation.

 

The audience was in stitches at Lucy's antics, and we all collectively held our breaths during the mountain driving scenes.

 

They also went wild at this particular scene.

 

The color works a lot better in the day scenes, and we can see Lucy's red hair and colorful dresses. It was a time of economic boom when we could afford the latest luxuries and spend our leisure time exploring our great country.

 

The slanted angles remind me of film noir with their distorted angles. But though dark, they show us not gloom, but a foreshadowing of the comic mishaps yet to come.

 

Lucille Ball was also, indeed, a pioneer, showing that women could do slapstick too (and often, even better).

 

 


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#51 judith46

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 01:56 PM

The addition of color accents Lucy's character.  The plaid shirt plays up her red hair, while the more black and white treatment of Desi's wardrobe also serves to put the focus on her.  The crazy tilt of the trailer, essential to this scene,  would be hard to pull of on TV with its narrow screen.  Lucy continues and refines the clown tradition.  I believe I heard once that the studio had her work with Buster Keaton to perfect her comedy.  Anybody else know about that?

 

guess Minnelli needn't have worried about the "dirty face" aspect!

 

I remember my mom, recovering from surgery, watching I Love Lucy and alternately laughing and crying because it hurt to laugh!  But laughter is healing, right?


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#52 Pjdamon

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 01:25 PM

1. The color adds to the realism of the film. It's the first time we get to see Lucy with er red hair. It also helps add to the mood of the scene. It adds to the gags by the glasses taped to the table and Lucy falling in the mud.

2. The most obvious camera angle is the trailer is at an angle. Minnelli used many techniques that were used in movies that weren't available to television at that time. And as another member states the majority of television was live or in front of a live audience. They didn't have the ability to redo or edit scenes. It was much like theater at that time.

3. Lucy was one of the first female comedians starting in vaudeville. Even in her earlier movies she was able to do some verable slapstick As this film showed she can also do physical. Through her television career and later movies she was able to advance it greatly. Three examples come to mind: 1. Working the line at the candy factory. 2. The pantomime routine she did with Harpo. 3. The scene in Ours, Mine, and Ours when she has dinner with Henry Fonda's family and gets drunk. She has also the inspiration to Carol Burnett and others.
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#53 jay1458

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 12:43 PM

In my opinion, the use of color in this clip, does the job of making a more realistic twist to the gags. I feel that the camera angles as well as the depth of focus make it more of a cinematic production. I think Lucille Ball contributed the kind zany ,madcap side to slapstick that is never going to go away and Minneli uses her physical comedy when she bounces off the bwd and again when she falls out the door into the mud.


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#54 MrDougLong

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 11:50 AM

1.       Color doesn’t seem to play a large role in this clip from The Long, Long Trailer, other than to assign Desi Arnaz the masculine blue and Lucille Ball the feminine pink. Color doesn’t play a role in the first gag, Lucy jumping into bed and missing it. The darkness of the mud is part of the other gag, which is Lucy being hurled into the mud.

2.       In the first scene, which is more domestic drama than comedy, Minnelli films them at canted angles, which usually suggests that the world of the story is unbalanced. In the second scene, anticipation for disaster builds as Minnelli cuts back and forth between bedtime preparations and the jack which is slowly giving way as the storm turns its base to mud. The primary slapstick moment comes from editing the jack giving way to Lucy being thrown out the trailer door into the mud while screaming.

3.       Primarily through her work in television, Lucille Ball broke ground in putting a female at the center of slapstick comedy, doing the most humiliating (and funny) bits herself. In the second scene of this Daily Dose of Doozy, both slapstick moments involve Ball performing large physical stunts to the humiliation of her character – throwing herself on the floor instead of in bed and being thrown into the mud. Desi Arnaz’ understated line supports that: “Hey, what’s the matter? Can’t you sleep?”


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#55 CynthiaV

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 11:46 AM

1. What do you think the addition of color adds to this scene and its gags?

Black and white evokes a sense of nostalgia, of times past. We associate it with old newsreels of war and yesteryear. It was also the way movies always looked, often flat, two dimensional and less than. Think Kansas vs Oz. Black and white lacked the vibrancy of the post WWII generation. It was out of step, out of touch. These were the folks who survived the Depression then went on and won the War, saved America, saved the world, ensured all that comes with the blessings of freedom and liberty. Life is lived in color.

The color adds immediacy and realism. The flickering candlelight, the lightning, the dark good looks of Desi all add to the intimacy of a familiar if slightly askew domestic scene. But it is Lucy's delicate beauty and stunning red hair that make her comedy even that much funnier because not since Thelma Todd has such a beautiful woman been willing to be battered and bruised and fall into a mud pit for the sake of a laugh. Lucy was a trooper. Elegant and perfect one minute, disheveled and bedraggled the next.

2. What are some of the techniques that Vincente Minnelli uses in this scene to make it more cinematic than a TV show such as I Love Lucy? Consider, for example, camera angles, depth of focus, or editing strategy.

The camera was fixed in most 50s TV shows often taking in the full figure midrange shot in order to catch the majority of the scene. Closeups were kept to a bare minimum and the show resembled a stage play with actors lined up in a single depth of field. In, "I Love Lucy" I only recall a few stages, the apartment (living room, bedroom, kitchen) of the Ricardos, the Mertz's living room, Desi's nightclub and occasionally off site locales, the candy factory, the vineyard, hotel rooms, etc.

In this film we are treated to constantly changing locales many outdoors in beautiful technicolor. The US was on the move. Ex-soldiers had seen the world, now they took to the road to see the USA. What a better way than a road movie. Who doesn't love a road trip! In this scene Minelli used the angled shot to give viewers even a greater sense of disorientation. Also I like when Lucy ad Desi are seated at the table and first we get to watch Desi's reactions to Lucy who is seen in profile, then he reverses the camera and we are looking over Desi's shoulder at Lucy. Both techniques not feasible on a weekly live TV show. And Lucy falling out of bed, priceless.

3. What are some of Lucille Ball's contributions to the history of slapstick comedy, and how does Minnelli use her physical comedy in this clip?

She was a star. It seemed MGM and Columbia never quite knew what to do with her in her movie roles of the 40s. She was a perpetual second and third banana to Skelton, Benny, Abbott and Costello, Kelly, Holden, et al. Even when she starred her talent was rarely utilized to the fullest. Television had finally brought her the fame she deserved and now in this movie she was in a position to gave her public 100%. She blazed the trail for every other female comedian that follows her. To me she is the female equivalent to Chaplin and Keaton. A comedic genius equally great at verbal and physical comedy and a brilliant businesswoman. Even though, "Star Trek" caused her to have to sell Desilu, history has proven her right in the end. Thanks Lucy. Who doesn't love you?
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#56 Janeko

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 11:44 AM

Color gave life to the film in a way that black and white TV could not.  There's a warmth that comes through that reflects the warmth and love Lucy and Desi have for each other as newlyweds. 

 

There was verbal slapstick with Desi's mispronunciation of wilderness and the part of the scene when Lucy talks about when she first fell in love with him.  It seems like such a tender moment of sharing.  Then, when she asks him what he's thinking, it turns out that he's not thinking at all about what she just shared.  He's wondering how they're going to get the trailer out of the mud!!

 

The weird camera angles add to the comedy.  I love the way Desi tapes the wine glasses to the table!!  Then Desi is supposedly making up her bed and falls asleep in it, leaving her with the unusable one!  Her physical stunts--falling out of the bed and then falling out of the trailer into the mud--are so fluid and natural!!

 

Lucy was a real trailblazer in the field of comedy films and TV shows, helping to pave the way for countless other women.  It's interesting that most people today don't know that she had an earlier career as a dramatic actress.  Her comedic gifts completely overshadow that part of her career.

 

And yes, isn't it ironic that Minnelli didn't like the Ansco color because the women's faces looked like they were dirty!

 

 

 


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#57 jkbrenna

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 11:16 AM

The addition of color in The Long, Long Trailer brings all the props and settings to life.  It's easier to see the white wine, at a tilt, their pajamas, the contrast of her hair and pjs with mud at the end of the clip.  Her slapstick is so funny, when she slides off the bed.  Lucy was doing both verbal and physical slapstick.  One of the best.  I think she would have gotten along very well with Charley Chaplin.  What a move they would have made!

 

I've seen this movie a few times and unfortunately, never knew Vincente Minelli directed it.  Didn't know he had a funny bone.  Going back to the 50s, when this was made, TV at the time was black & white and SMALL.  They weren't like the flatscreens we have today.  So, the film, adding bright colors, a  much larger venue to watch, and seeing our stars up close and personal, all made the movie more enticing than our little screens at home.  Plus, it was a night out.

 

Lucille Ball seems to be the one of the most prolific slapstick women in film, perhaps the first.  She was Chaplin in a dress.  She gave audiences a way to view slapstick comedy in a feminine way.  She was a genius, like the silent slapstick comedians were.


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#58 Patti Zee

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 10:15 AM

The fifties were a very exuberant time as post war feelings of optimism flourished despite the new Cold War and the dawning of the nuclear age. Leisure and recreation were all the rage in our growing affluence.Colors in the home and fashion industry were much brighter in general. Pastels, Scandinavian, and modern were the pallets of choice with blonde woods and sleek modern designs. With new color processes available, The Long, Long Trailer was the perfectly designed vehicle for the times. The colors chosen were what every modern woman wanted in her home and the opportunity to see Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez in a technicolor romantic comedy was a true home run. The camera work really put the audience in the trailer with them, the cockeyed angles added to the comedy, and the intimacy, that could not have begun to be realized on television of the time.And of course, the great physical slapstick ability of Lucy is used to full advantage as she maneuvers thru the trailer, and battles the tilted bed only to be ejected into the mud. This is a movie I would love to see on the big screen but will enjoy seeing it on a big screen TV.
I will be reading that article that was posted to get a much better appreciation of Lucille Ball's contributions to slapstick, but the fact that, like Thelma Todd, she was a gorgeous woman with a great sense of comic timing and was totally willing to perform amazing physical comedy already says volumes.
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#59 savaney

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 09:47 AM

1. What do you think the addition of color adds to this scene and its gags?

 

The color allows you to see Lucy's red hair and how distinctive it really was. It works for a film like The Long, Long Trailer. If it was shot in black and white, then the gags would not have worked properly. The color also heightens the subtle humor of Lucy and Desi's situation. The fact that Lucy's hair matches her pajamas basically brought out her comedic personality. You could see how television influenced moviegoing at the time, especially when it transitioned into color.

 

2. What are some of the techniques that Vincente Minnelli uses in this scene to make it more cinematic than a TV show such as I Love Lucy? Consider, for example, camera angles, depth of focus, or editing strategy.

 

​Obviously you that most of the scene is slanted, which enhances the realistic nature of the situation where the trailer is stuck in the mud. It is ironic that the film is called The Long, Long Trailer since it looks like the trailer itself seems never-ending. Television at the time did not have the kind of power that it actually has now. The angles, focus and editing only worked in film in that period. In a weird way, I think that a few techniques from the film could be seen in Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause, especially where certain moments are slanted to increase the dramatic and emotional tension in that.

 

3. What are some of Lucille Ball's contributions to the history of slapstick comedy, and how does Minnelli use her physical comedy in this clip?

 

I think the most important, and obvious aspect of Lucy's importance in the history of comedy overall is that she paved the way for women in comedy. Usually it was reserved for men, where they dominated the comedy scene, but Lucy came in and shook it up, and rightly so. Minnelli uses her physicality to complete affect where she falls off the bed, and flies out of the trailer into the mud. In this case, because of his direction, she was willing to perform some of the more dangerous stunts that essential for her character in the film.


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#60 Barracuda89

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 09:45 AM

1. The addition of color adds a lot to the gags from the scenes viewed in today's Daily Dose of Doozy from The Long, Long Trailer. For instance, a pivotal bit in the first scene when the two were talking about their love for each other was the wine being poured. Color allowed the audience to understand what was being poured and make the scene a bit more relatable. The scene in which the actress is catapulted out the door is benefited by the color of the film as well. The splash into the mud with the rain falling around her was much more vibrant than it would have otherwise been had there been no color added. You can also see the contrast much clearer when the audience sees the mud against her pink nightwear.

 

2. Some techniques Vincente Minnelli used in The Long, Long Trailer to give the film a more cinematic feel were the camera angles and the staging. Cameras, although I Love Lucy revolutionized the way television shows were filmed, could not enjoy the freedom on a television set that they could on a film. The angles used in the scenes we viewed of The Long, Long Trailer would have been nearly impossible to film for a television audience. The staging was critical, as well, to give the film a more cinematic look. The audience really had to understand how cramped the principle actors were in these scenes and it was achieved well by the way Minnelli staged the scene, as opposed to the broad open spaces commonly seen on television at the time.

 

3. Lucille Ball injected a very body-conscious way of exacting her physical comedy, which is a benefit to slapstick.  Oftentimes, she would involve herself in gags that used several parts of her own body; the grape crushing scene and chocolate eating assembly line scene from I Love Lucy instantly come to mind. For Lucille Ball, slapstick didn't stop at how she could contort or physically exert her body, as with some slapstick comedians of the past, she pushed the envelope of slapstick to see what else she could do with her body rather than just to her body.


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