You watch The Long, Long Trailer on DVD (http://goo.gl/7oGxlY) for one reason. And that’s to see Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball together at the height of their 1950s popularity. Hollywood has tackled RV camping at various times over the years, from the hilarious Cousin Eddie in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (http://goo.gl/97tVjU) to Robin Williams in RV (http://goo.gl/wdZvn0). But somehow Desi and Lucy remain the best. Why? I’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do!
The premise is simple enough. Lucy and Desi are newlyweds. A surprisingly blonde (!) Lucy pressures the reluctant Desi into buying a travel trailer. They set off honeymooning throughout the American West…and comic hilarity ensues. Like everything nostalgic, this movie seems to somehow get better after you’ve finished watching it.
I like watching old movies because they are like visual time capsules. Sure, it’s not intended to be a documentary, but The Long, Long Trailer offers some insights into life 60 years ago. There certainly seemed to be some romance attached to the trailer business.
My favorite bits in this movie demonstrate that some things haven’t changed. Certain aspects of “trailer life” are just the same today as they were in 1954. It’s great fun watching a couple of “newbies” like Desi and Lucy learn the ropes.
For example, I love the scene in which Desi gets flustered while backing up the absurdly long trailer. This scene reminded me of a certain camping site in Walt Disney World’s Fort Wilderness, when I almost wedged our rig between a fire hydrant and a tree. After much gnashing of teeth, I finally managed to extricate myself from the dilemma. It was an achievement of physics and geometry comparable to landing a jumbo jet.
I also identify with Desi when, terrified, he tows his trailer along a treacherous one-lane mountain highway. Kristy and I have lived a few of these fingernail-chomping moments ourselves over the years. At one such point in British Columbia, Kristy told me, “It felt like we were driving to our death.” Yippee!
The movie addresses the persistent uncertainty of human relationships. That’s really the overriding issue of married life aboard an RV. Sure, you’ll always experience a few mechanical problems. But the real question — the real test — is whether you will truly enjoy spending that time and that space with another person.
Most RVs are essentially studio apartments on wheels. In a travel trailer, there’s no sneaking off to your own private corner of the house. And in certain boondocking campgrounds, there’s no radio or TV or electricity. You are always together, and the entertainment is up to YOU. Stripped of other distractions, how well will you get along with your spouse?
How well did Lucy and Desi handle it? No spoilers here. You’ll have to watch the movie to find out. Kristy and I really enjoyed watching The Long, Long Trailer, and you probably will too.