Thursday, May 23, 2013

Movie Review: I Love Lucy the Movie and Other Great Rarities

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Funny stuff, some rare footage and behind the scenes info
Cons: Biggest chunks repeats, so it may be hard to justify the purchase
The Bottom Line:
No, you don't need it
But it's interesting and
Completes collection

Finally, Loyal Fans are Rewarded with These Rare I Love Lucy Moments

As much as I love the TV on DVD trend, I hate it when companies put extra bonus features in a complete series set that is released after all the individual seasons are released separately.  They've now done nothing but hurt their biggest base, the loyal fans, who were rushing out to buy the seasons as they were released individually, forcing them to forego some bonus features or buy the entire series all over again.

One series that did this was I Love Lucy.  While this is my favorite sitcom of all time (and second favorite show), I wasn't about to buy all the seasons again.  But when they finally decided to release the extra bonus features as the separate disc I Love Lucy: The Movie and Other Great Rarities, I jumped at a chance to own them.

Yes, you read that right.  Seems that the charges of unoriginality being leveled at Hollywood today are nothing new.  When the first season of I Love Lucy became such a hit, they decided to release a feature film version of the show.  Really, it was the episodes "The Benefit," Breaking the Lease," and "The Ballet" knitted together with some new footage filmed before a studio audience.  In fact, this special footage gives us some behind the scenes footage as it starts with us joining the live audience for a taping of the show (which explains the audience laughter heard on the soundtrack).

Okay, so there is very little here that fans haven't seen.  And the casual fan has no need to get the disc.  But for huge fans, this is a fun disc to have.  The movie runs 1 hour and 21 minutes.  I'd say maybe 8 minutes or so of that time are new.  The rest we have in the season one set.  However, these are classic episodes as Lucy (Lucille Ball) tries to get the better of Ricky (Desi Arnaz) after getting him to do a benefit for Ethel's (Vivian Vance) club.  Then Lucy and Ricky fight with their landlords Ethel and Fred (William Frawley) and try to get out of their lease.  And in my favorite of the three, Lucy learns a comedy and ballet routine, hoping to get into Ricky's new act.  When a performer gets sick, it may be Lucy's big break, but which part is needed?

Original or not, these shows are still funny.  I don't know how many times I've seen them (especially the final one), and I still laughed just as hard as the studio audience at all the jokes.  What really does amaze me is how well they worked the new footage into the old.  A couple of times, they actually filmed the beginning of a scene again, and you'd never know if you hadn't been told.

But that's not all we get here.  They also have the fifth season episode "Lucy Goes to Scotland" in color.  This was the only one colorized over the years.  Frankly, it's not a favorite from the show, but I enjoyed getting to see it in color.

Other extras include some behind the scenes notes on things presented here.  I found the history of the movie and how it got shelved and lost fascinating.  We get to see Lucy and Desi's first TV appearance together during a 1949 episode of The Ed Wynn Show.  It's a riot.  We also see Vivian winning best supporting actress and the show winning best comedy at the sixth annual Emmy Awards.  Finally, we get the cigarette commercial that aired before the first episode ever aired.  Frankly, the warning before the commercial aired was pretty funny.

Most of the stuff here has been restored and looks great for being over 50 years old.  The Ed Wynn Show and Emmy Awards clips aren't in nearly as good a shape, but they are still watchable.

Okay, so there is very little on I Love Lucy: The Movie and Other Great Rarities to justify the casual fan getting it.  If you have bought the first season set, you have the heart of the disc.  However, as an obsessed collector, I pre-ordered this disc the day it was announced.  I loved getting to watch the contents here and laughed the entire way through them.  I'm thankful they finally did the right thing and let everyone have access to this disc for a reasonable price.

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