The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour
Ricky is playing a date at the Sands, Lucy starts the ball rolling with a batch of phony newspapers from a novelty shop, the headline proclaims a big uranium strike. All now head for the desert with Geiger counters, Ricky and Lucy, Fred and Ethel, and Fred MacMurray, who has lost $100 gambling and hopes to make good before his wife, June Haver, finds out about it.
Lucy tosses her radioactive sample away, the one that came with her Geiger counter. Its rediscovery sets off a mad pursuit to the assayer as each of the three parties mistakenly thinks it’s going to be cheated out of a stake in the claim.
This is far and away the single most virtuosic piece of direction in the series with its classic slapstick on the desert floor, a very near progenitor of It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.
Lucy Wins a Race Horse
The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour
A trotter, in fact. It won’t run for anyone but her, so she wears silks and a mustache in the grand race like something out of National Velvet.
It’s expensive to maintain a horse, say Harry James and Betty Grable. The latter charms a small fortune out of tightfisted Fred for the race and gives him a gesture of affection in return. Fred, in a dark suit and Cary Grant glasses for the occasion of meeting her, turns at once to leave. Where is he going? He turns again and thrusts a schoolgirlish hand toward them. “Home,” he says, “to write in my diary.”
Grable joins Ricky in a Latin dance number with a troupe and a solo by James, “The Bayamo”.
Lucy Wants a Career
The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour
The payoff is in the last scene, a live television commercial for Wakey Flakies, the breakfast cereal “guaranteed to wake you up and give you energy for twenty-four hours”. Lucy has cunningly obtained a position as girl Friday on The Paul Douglas “EARLY BIRD” Show. In the first half she dispels her rivals at the casting call (two lean and hungry types, Joi Lansing and a fourth exquisite blonde) by letting on that Douglas is a terrible wolf. They scatter like sheep, the sponsor (American Cereal Company) likes a housewife type, she signs a contract.
Her weather report anticipates L.A. Story and puts her foot through the map, the cooking segment starts like Annie Hall on lobsters and ends in Belacqua’s squeamishness.
The second half has her ruing the contract, the show’s a success but she and Ricky only meet at the train station in passing, Little Ricky calls Ethel “Mommy”, Douglas promises to get the sponsor’s release. Lucy takes two sleeping pills, but Douglas arrives at 4 A.M. to pick her up, there’s a new ad campaign.
And so, her face streaming with milk after falling into the breakfast bowl, Lucy is held before the camera by a smiling Douglas. “I hadda get into television, no wonder Ed Murrow’s takin’ a year off!”
My Eldest Child
Please Don’t Eat the Daisies
The regular column is printed by mistake with the writer’s real name, her husband is recognized therefore as a satirically inflated hypochondriac.
The point is made, to soothe his wounded feelings and end the argument, that he had taught her satire in his English class.
The Venetian Affair
The American representative to a nuclear disarmament conference, “a very conventional man”, does “a very unconventional thing”, exploding the room and killing all present, including himself.
The Russians think a U.S. plot is underway, and vice versa. Quite naturally, a third adversary is seen at length, but so long as that Bosley Crowther (New York Times) was not willing to wait, therefore “a totally inane and posy picture”, on the same grounds as Halliwell’s “uninteresting and complicated”. Variety took another tack, “pacing is tedious and plotting routine.”
The very last lines of Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach” are not recited by the lovers of a night in Venice, but the rest of the stanza is.
One’s ex-wife is an enemy agent, she walked out without an explanation or a farewell, and may be implicated.
A “political analyst” with “one of the finest amateur intelligence operations in Western Europe” has the lowdown, the real facts, and is a target.
The breakthrough is a drug that destroys memory and reduces the will to whining fear, as demonstrated on a cat faced with a lab rat, “capable of changing the brain’s nerve cells and of robotizing a human being” (cp. Bergman’s The Serpent’s Egg).
The ex-wife has a curious trait, she’s a sculptress who “never did an original” in her life. “I had to leave,” she says, “I had no choice.”
Enzo Serafin’s cinematography on location, Milton Krasner in the studio (all Metrocolor), score by Lalo Schifrin.
The British also think the U.S. is up to no good, for what it’s worth. Nevertheless, a combined Anglo-American-Soviet investigation is undertaken.
Just before he is victimized by the drug, the political analyst determines the third adversary’s identity (the man overseeing the operation is a power broker named Wahl).
An exceptionally detailed, precise screenplay is provided by E. Jack Neuman (who wrote “The Trouble with Templeton” for The Twilight Zone, dir. Buzz Kulik), from a novel by Helen MacInnes (whose Above Suspicion was filmed by Richard Thorpe).
An exceptionally precise, accurate directorial style accomplishes the masterpiece that ends on the Rialto Bridge.
The progress of an enlightenment alla Dante. Hell is a prospector who strikes gold on Indian land and is killed by them, Purgatory a preacher who builds the church he has put off, Heaven the conversion of Caine’s paternal grandfather from bigotry.
Thorpe’s formidable technique solves many a problem by picturemaking, and raises one or two others.
The complex weaving of the teleplay by the author of Coogan’s Bluff has Caine in Lordsville, where his grandmother is buried and whence he departs with his great-grandfather’s watch, letters from his half-brother, a memento from his father and an invitation to visit the church named after the prospector, Davey Peartree’s Church of the Inner Vision.
An Eye for an Eye
Caine does his best in a situation very much like a feud. A Southerner’s house is attacked by three Union soldiers, his daughter raped, at the provocation of a captured battle flag. Her brother fights a duel in which both men are killed, the two other soldiers seek vengeance, through it all the Southerner demands requital.
The duel is filmed in slow motion for a complete analysis. It’s a back-to-back affair, six paces out, turn and fire. Each pistol has two bullets, survivors may fire again. On five, the sergeant turns and shoots his adversary in the back. The girl and Caine rush toward them, he fires into the dust at her feet, to stop her. While he reloads, the man on the ground manages to fire a shot, both die.
Indians accost Caine and the girl when her baby is born. He is sitting in a meditative posture by their campfire when they wake, they slip off to their horses and joust at him with spears until enough are unseated to provoke a retreat.
Caine breaks the Southerner’s sword to quell the vendetta. Stores of wisdom are expended on these people, who cannot see the forest for the trees. Furia’s writing covers some essential tenets, and achieves some remarkably fine effects in constructions such as this, “Before we wake, we cannot know that what we dreamed does not exist. Before we die, we cannot know that death is not the greatest joy,” and (citing Lao Tzu), “a man who knows how to live has no place for death to enter.”
A hard parable, the essential construction of which is simply best seen as a hallucination. The central figure appears briefly, an old woman dressed in black on the road. She passes Caine by, reeling with dizziness after he has drunk some bad water, and refuses to give him a ride into town, where she informs the deputy that a Chinese man has assaulted her.
Caine is rescued by a runaway slave who keeps a farm and family and the only well in the drought-stricken region. “Water’s the only thing we got keeps us free,” cp. Cenci in Losey’s Secret Ceremony, “my virginity is the only thing I possess.”
The sheriff fires his overeager deputy, and arranges to fill barrels at night to protect the farmer.