"Lucy is the famous, uh..."
October 26, 2008 6:06 PM   Subscribe

I Love Lucy Pilot (1951). Originally unaired. More about this. Of related interest, the audition for the I Love Lucy Radio Show.
posted by twoleftfeet (15 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Post of the month, easily, perhaps post of the season.
Thank you so much.
posted by caddis at 7:46 PM on October 26, 2008

Ricky: I don't want my wife in show business.
Lucie: why?
R: why!?
L: I asked you first.
R: Oh honey we've been over this ten thousand times, I want a wife who, who's just a wife. Now look, all you gotta do is clean the house for me, hand me my pipe when I come home at night, cook for me and be the mother of my children
L: You don't smoke a pipe.
R: It doesn't matter, just do the others.
She took care of that, an more. She did much for the feminist movement before it was even a movement. Funny, gorgeous, made you think; life doesn't make too many like her. Too bad, we could use a few more.
posted by caddis at 8:05 PM on October 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

This is nice. I love stuff like this.
posted by grubi at 8:27 PM on October 26, 2008

It felt very "radio", didn't it?
posted by droplet at 8:33 PM on October 26, 2008

"Lucy...you have some 'splainin' to do!!"

For all the time I spent watching this show, Lucy and Ricky practically raised me. Thanks for this!
posted by arishaun at 8:39 PM on October 26, 2008


Best literary appearance of I Love Lucy -- the magical opening of Oscar Hijuelos' masterpiece The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. (Shitty movie, great novel).
posted by digaman at 9:02 PM on October 26, 2008

It's interesting that in 1951 they were willing to shoot the pilot while Lucille Ball was five months pregnant.

It's also interesting to me that in the original written pitch for the show they said:
They are happily married and very much in love. The only bone of contention between them is her desire to get into show business, and his equally strong desire to keep her out of it.

They knew before they ever got started what the dominant plot idea was (and they ended up using it zillions of times). They also knew that their being "very much in love" was essential for the show.

They don't make 'em like that anymore.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:40 PM on October 26, 2008

It felt very "radio", didn't it?

yeah, like when they didn't get the shot of Lucy reacting to the face on the pj back on her makeup mirror quite right. . .
posted by troy at 9:53 PM on October 26, 2008

That was great. Lucy as the Professor was hilarious.
posted by frobozz at 10:55 PM on October 26, 2008

(Shitty movie, great novel)

A movie about music that didn't understand how a music track works. Talk about your recipe for greatness.
posted by Wolof at 11:23 PM on October 26, 2008

Apparently to show that the story premise (and the cross-ethnic marriage) would be accepted by audiences, they toured in a vaudeville act before persuading CBS to run the pilot.

Yeah, there was some shaky camera control and various other goofs, and the sets were about the size of a postage stamp, but a lot of her future comedic "tells" were present. (I think she almost laughed during her own "waterworks" bit.) The whole template was indeed right there.

Though Arnaz's limitations as a straight man were also apparent ....
posted by dhartung at 11:54 PM on October 26, 2008

"limitations as a straight man" is a phrase you don't see every day, since everyone assumes that actors/performers become "straight men" because they lack comic talent. But setting up a joke just right and doing reactions that embellish but don't distract are very special skills. And the skilled straight man is an artist, like Dick Smothers, or Ted Danson on "Cheers" (less so on "Becker").

And let us recognize (again and again) the headliners who were funny on their own but served as foils to other talents, like Jack Benny (who acknowledged, yes, everybody stole the show, but at the end of the day it was still HIS show) and Carol Burnett and Bob Newhart and Jackie Gleason (who knew when to let Art Carney act so he could react)

But Dick Martin still TOTALLY carried Dan Rowan.
posted by wendell at 12:38 AM on October 27, 2008

Arnaz got better (and so did Lucille Ball, and so did the show). A lot of the mugging and bug-eyed reactions that happened in the first season disappeared as the show moved on in time, and the timing and the chemistry between the four principals became pretty fantastic later on. The first season of Lucy was sorta hit and miss, with Arnaz's mugging, Lucy's high-pitched nasally whine, and Vivian Vance's snotty behavior the most noticeable features of the show, along with the sometimes bizarre plot devices ("Lucy Thinks Ricky Is Trying to Murder Her" and Lucy the kleptomaniac?).
posted by blucevalo at 9:09 AM on October 27, 2008

Bob Newhart and Jerry Seinfeld were two other great straight men. It's much funnier to bring back all of the logic in a sitcom- to be the guy who tells Kramer "you can't have people putting their hands in 500 degree ovens".
posted by Zambrano at 10:09 AM on October 27, 2008

Though Arnaz's limitations as a straight man were also apparent ....
His strengths lay behind the camera. Lucy worked best in front of a live audience, so Desi came up with the three-camera format, using film rather than videotape, and he hired one of the best cinematographers in the business, Karl Freund, to bring his ideas to fruition. He also made a deal with CBS that Desilu retained ownership of the I Love Lucy films. When he sold them back to CBS for syndication purposes years later, Desilu grossed many millions.

I Love Lucy's writers often spoke admirably of how amenable Lucille Ball was to trying any wacky stunt they wrote into a script. Both she and Desi insisted on as much realism as possible, so that Vitameatavegimin stuff was a gross concoction of apple pectin and other ingredients that truly made Lucille grimace. They found a bakery willing to bake that huge loaf of bread that popped out of the oven in "Pioneer Women." In that one Floriday episode, those were actual smelly, slipper, scaly tunas the Ricardos and Mertzes were struggling to hide in the hotel. Until the end of his life, though, Desi Arnaz always stated that 10% of the success of I Love Lucy was due to Vivian, Bill and him, and 90% was all thanks to Lucille.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:11 AM on October 27, 2008

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