The Long, Long Trailer

The Long, Long, Trailer.  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 1953.
The Long, Long, Trailer. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 1953.

Before watching the movie:

This was recommended to me because I was going to pull a trailer across the country in a move as “something to watch after you’re done with the trailer”. The trailer is gone, and the movie is here, so here it is. Mine was somewhat smaller. I couldn’t imagine my car pulling a 36′ camper trailer, but I think they did make cars more powerful back then.

I was thinking more about a few Disney cartoons with misbehaving trailers, but I can certainly see the potential for comic mishap. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s any difference between Lucy and Desi’s characters here versus on I Love Lucy, since both are star vehicles meant to showcase what they do best and giving audiences what they expect of the actors.

After watching the movie:

As they prepare to get married, Tacy tells her fiance Nicky that she wants to live in a trailer, since he’ll be working across the country for a few months and who knows where after, and this way they’ll be able to build a home to take with them. He thinks she’s joking at first, but it looks financially reasonable. And then the model she had in mind was too small, but there’s a massive one for not much more…. and a heavier new car and hitch mount later, Nicky is driving 40 feet of steel down the highway at white-knuckled speeds under 35 MPH. Traveling across the country as newlyweds, they make wrong turns, get stuck in the mud, try to back up, and collect a lot of memorable rocks.

I appreciated the ups and downs of the couple’s relationship. Rather than just arguing with each other or suffering through their tribulations, they do here and there get to show that they do love each other, and their relationship ties together the series of comic sequences that make up most of the running time. I particularly enjoyed how they turn getting stuck on a forest road into a romantic dinner with everything taped down due to the angle of the trailer.

I may have watched this too soon after my trailer experience, but a lot of the trailer comedy I was more sympathetic to than laughing at. It’s played up for comic effect, but most of the time I was just thinking about how glad I was it wasn’t happening to me. There’s a sequence with attempting to back into a residential driveway that probably would have been more cringe than comedy to me even without my recent experience, since it’s obvious immediately that some grave amount of property damage is going to ensue, but the question is how much. The New Moon trailer is a much different matter from a little moving trailer though, and quite a lot of the jokes come from life living inside. It really is quite spacious for something roadworthy, but the movie exploits all the compromises involved in making a home that size and mobile.

There are some beautiful scenes driving through national parks, really showing off the greater budget a movie has next to a tv series. It’s mostly in montage, showing happier parts of the trip, but there’s a drive up a mountain that looks fantastic too.  Even the towns look nice in the movie’s rich color, but TV and movie towns generally did then. The trailer parks are supposed to look nice, but they don’t work for me for some reason. Perhaps because the main people we see living in them besides the star couple have a lot more color in their personalities than in their appearance. Or maybe it’s just tough to build a nice place to live around allowing trailers to come in and out without it looking fake.

The physical comedy is the main staple of this movie, and it’s certainly worth it. Tacy trying to cook dinner in a moving trailer is just as memorable as many of Lucy’s antics on television, and Nicky gets his slapstick moments in too. It’s altogether a story of a couple’s trip together to enjoy not having to take yourself.

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