We're excited to present a great new set of boards to classic movie fans with tons of new features, stability, and performance.

If you’re new to the message boards, please “Register” to get started. If you want to learn more about the new boards, visit our FAQ.

Register

If you're a returning member, start by resetting your password to claim your old display name using your email address.

Re-Register

Thanks for your continued support of the TCM Message Boards.

X

Kyle Kersten was a true friend of TCM. One of the first and most active participants of the Message Boards, “Kyle in Hollywood” (aka, hlywdkjk) demonstrated a depth of knowledge and largesse of spirit that made him one of the most popular and respected voices in these forums. This thread is a living memorial to his life and love of movies, which remain with us still.

X

Jump to content


Photo

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


  • Please log in to reply
67 replies to this topic

#61 Chris_Coombs

Chris_Coombs

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 62 posts
  • LocationNew England

Posted 20 September 2016 - 09:41 AM

Color adds to the comedy in many ways. Subtly, the light of the candle drew my attention to it, showing the wax dripping off at a slant which is a funny bit. In n the end Lucy falling into the mud is made funnier by contrasting her pink pajamas with the brown of the mud.

 

The film is shot cinematically, which contrasts with TV. We start with a shot of Lucy, which pulls back, and moves to frame on a two shot. Though subtle, it is a more complex shot than one would see in early TV. We also have reverse angle cutting common to film, whereas TV at the time was shot more frontally, without the back and forth over-the-shoulders. I Love Lucy was shot with three cameras for a live audience. In the film, the reverse shot's foreground is a bit out of focus (side view of Lucy, and back of Ricky) whereas in TV both would be in focus because it was shot differently. The cinematography is also much better than in TV. We have a night scene, with candle light, and it looks beautiful. We see the cuts between outside (the Jack) and inside (the bedroom). TV sitcoms stayed within the room or set.

Also, the settings of film comedy were larger than you would find in a sitcom. 98% of a sitcom takes place on their set - usually a set of a few rooms - whereas a film can be on the road, going from one location to another.

 

Lucy contributed a great deal to comedy, and especially slapstick comedy. Who can ever forget the candy factory scene, which is now iconic. Minelly could use her physicality in the clip, trying to stay upright in a slanted cabin, falling out of the bed, and eventually falling backward into a pool of mud.


  • GeezerNoir, riffraf, HEYMOE and 2 others like this

#62 redpaws

redpaws

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts

Posted 20 September 2016 - 08:07 AM

The camera angle made it "feel" as though you were in the tilted camper with Lucy ,add the color and suddenly "you are there", if this were seen on a small flat black and white tv screen ,it would have been just that- FLAT.


  • Mandroid51 and ScottZepher like this

#63 Mandroid51

Mandroid51

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 152 posts

Posted 20 September 2016 - 08:01 AM


For a thorough list of Lucille Ball's contributions to the history of slapstick, I found this article worth reading:

https://travsd.wordp...9-lucille-ball/


Thank you for posting. I wasn't positive of her background and early comedic presence. She seemed to be a natural. After reading that she worked worked with the greats by the looks of it. I more confidently can say her television persona solidified her fame with slapstick comedy.
  • Russell K likes this

#64 goingtopluto

goingtopluto

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 120 posts

Posted 20 September 2016 - 07:56 AM

From what I have read about “The Long Long Trailer” one of the major selling points was getting to see the stars in color, especially Lucy's red hair. As mentioned by Russell K in a previous post Vincente Minnelli made great use of contrasting background colors to show off the two main stars, especially Lucy's flaming red hair.

The scene was a very sweet moment in the movie but kept the comedic tone because of the bright colors. In B&W the scene may have had an unintentional film noir look because of the low lighting from the candles and a tilting of the trailer.

If I remember correctly “The Long Long Tailer” came out in the summer. It seems I had read somewhere that it was meant to be a form of advertisement for the “I Love Lucy” show acting as a sort of summer episode. It was a big gamble that turned out to be a smart move for the business savy Lucy and Desi.

In 1954 only 55% of the homes in America had a TV (ref: http://www.lib.niu.e.../ihy930341.html ) I wonder if anyone bought aTV to watch “I Love Lucy” after watching this movie.
  • riffraf, HEYMOE, Mandroid51 and 2 others like this

#65 Mandroid51

Mandroid51

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 152 posts

Posted 20 September 2016 - 07:47 AM

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

Color adds detail including seeing Lucille Ball's ginger head.

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.

For the time tv did little to compete with cinema's majestic appearance. The angles were a means of setting up the gag. It is not the best example of depth of focus but tv lacked those cinematic devices. Editing too did not shape up for many years in televisions birth. Tv started live, was also purely meant to be for communication and cinema communicated much better. I think the little box was doomed to be the advertising tool for the many.

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?

Hopefully I'll be educated more but did she have a vaudeville background? Stage and comedy was something she was exposed to during her career. Pies in the face and comedy on television in the I Love Lucy series are the contributions that come to mind in slapstick comedy. Minnelli sets her up as the fall woman. Very effective gag that blows Arnaz out of the water/mud in terms of scene stealing...
  • riffraf, goingtopluto, HEYMOE and 2 others like this

#66 ln040150

ln040150

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 97 posts
  • LocationTennessee

Posted 20 September 2016 - 07:41 AM

Frankly, it has taken me decades to get over my fascination with color so that I can say with honesty that color doesn't add much beyond basic narrative contrast here between the relative calm of the dinner scene and the rancor at the end of the bedroom scene. Comparing today's television with that of the early 1950s, they had none of the advantages available to the film studios and Minnelli used many of them, here, including multiple takes for numerous angles, multiple lenses for different focal points and a lot of cutting. Ball was the primordial physical comedian and Minnelli used her to full advantage in this film, within the limits of sanity, however, never ranging toward the absolute absurd.
  • riffraf, Mandroid51 and melkirsch like this

#67 Russell K

Russell K

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 39 posts
  • LocationIndianapolis, Indiana

Posted 20 September 2016 - 07:16 AM

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

 

The use of color as a technique to combat the rise of television is obvious in this clip.  Seeing Lucy's red hair, color contrasts within the trailer itself at the dinner table, use of color in Lucy's pajamas and the comforter, and of course - the mud at the end, which - without color - would lose some of the texture of the gag.  These are just a few.  

 

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.

 

Depth of focus on the trailer itself in the opening scene from dining area to the kitchen - adding to the fact that it is THE LONG LONG TRAILER.  Would be difficult to shoot such a scene in a smaller television studio and with the technology of TV cameras at that time.

 

Ability to cut back and forth from Lucy and Desi to register each other's reactions in color - audiences loved the two of them and seeing them up close and in color had to be a treat for audience's in the early 50s.

 

Use of color in make up to accept Lucy's wonderful eyes and also her bright red lipstick that of course was lost on B/W television. More intimate scene at dinner table shot in tighter frame so we can focus on the comedic pair.

 

Very tight shots in the bedroom scene to emphasize both the tilt of the trailer and the tight living space of traveling in a trailer - everything is compact.  

 

 

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?

 

For a thorough list of Lucille Ball's contributions to the history of slapstick, I found this article worth reading: 

 

https://travsd.wordp...9-lucille-ball/

 

Use of physical comedy - Lucy's balancing act as she prepares dinner,use of the straw during dinner as she waits for Desi's replies, tight space as they get ready for bedtime, her pause to set up the gag of getting into bed (facing her opponent - the bed at an angle), gripping the night stand and bed in order to make a second attempt, getting out of bed and stumbling and losing balance, as the jack falls, and Lucy goes out the door and into the mud.  Lucy wiping her face and giving small smile to Desi.

 

And of course, those wonderful Lucy facial expressions throughout!


  • GeezerNoir, riffraf, goingtopluto and 6 others like this

#68 Dr. Rich Edwards

Dr. Rich Edwards

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 270 posts
  • LocationBall State University

Posted 19 September 2016 - 09:23 PM

Today's Daily Dose is a clip from Vincente Minnelli's 1954 MGM film, The Long, Long Trailer. 

 

The key discussion point is how this clip can read as a reaction to television and the TV show, I Love Lucy. Also, discuss Minnelli's use of camera placement, camera angles, and use of color in the decor, costumes, and props. 

 

The Daily Dose is also available in the Daily Dose archives over at the Painfully Funny course at Canvas.net.

 

Enjoy your discussions!


  • Mandroid51 and Barracuda89 like this

Richard Edwards, PhD

Ball State University

Instructor: TCM Presents: The Master of Suspense: 50 Years of Hitchcock (2017)

Instructor: TCM Presents: Painfully Funny: Exploring Slapstick in the Movies (2016)

Instructor: TCM Presents: Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir (2015)

 

 





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users