Appellate Judge James A. Stewart once stayed at the Cactus Flower Motel. The needles in the bed were awful.
"Lucy gets a job at the MGM Grand casino and high stakes hijinks follow."
"Three For Two presents Lucy with the Great One, Jackie Gleason, combining their comedic talents for the first time."
Lucille Ball had a long run with CBS in three hit comedies—I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show, and Here's Lucy. She wasn't done when Here's Lucy ended, though. The Lucille Ball Specials: Lucy Gets Lucky / Three For Two features two specials she did for CBS in 1975, along with bonus features that should appeal to fans.
Facts of the Case
In Lucy Gets Lucky, Lucille Ball plays a woman who heads to Vegas to see Dean Martin's opening. She makes a reservation for eight to get one seat, but the maitre'd sees through her ploy. She runs into Martin in the coffee shop and learns that he's giving a show for employees. Now all she has to do is get a job and keep it until the show. Simple, huh? Not for Lucy, who ends up parking cars, serving drinks, and running keno. The last could be a killer, since she runs into a guest (Bruce Gordon, The Untouchables) she believes is a gangster.
Three For Two finds Lucille Ball and Jackie Gleason in short vignettes about couples. In "Herb & Sally," they're on vacation in Rome, where Sally wants romance and Herb feels like she's always angry at him, perhaps with good reason. "Fred & Rita" finds two adulterers meeting in secret. In "Mike & Pauline," a couple is angry because their kids want to go out on New Year's Eve.
Lucy's encounter with Dean Martin in Lucy Gets Lucky may be silly, but Lucille Ball's knack for physical comedy makes it a breezy hour. In the first few minutes, she establishes herself as a starstruck, down-on-her-luck lady with reactions and gestures as viewers take in the way she looks at celebrity posters—or sneaks out the back way at the MGM Grand to head for the cheaper Cactus Flower Motel. There are some decent bits of verbal comedy here and there, as when Lucy drives a maitre'd crazy with her explanation of how a reservation for eight became a reservation for one, but slapstick is the main attraction. Martin gets into the spirit well, adding bits like his lucky walk around a chair at the blackjack table. There's dialogue, but it's about as essential as in a Jacques Tati movie; I could have followed this if it were dubbed in Latvian. There are occasional flecks, but the special looks good. It looks like the original production was handled with a lot of care.
Three For Two has a stage feel and moves away from the regular personas of Ball and Jackie Gleason. Ball actually seems to get lost in her characters, such as the bored housewife in "Herb & Sally" or the controlling mother in "Mike & Pauline," while a little Ralph Kramden comes through in all three of Gleason's characters. Since all three stories mix comedy with dramatic touches, the pacing's slower. The first and last vignettes work well, while the middle one feels like something was chopped. I suspect this one, described in the opening credits as Renee Taylor's and Joseph Bologna's Three For Two, was an anomaly even when it first aired, getting an airing only because of the marquee value of Ball and Gleason. The video has some flaring, along with the usual flecks and spots.
What's interesting is that the two specials show different sides of Lucille Ball. Lucy Gets Lucky gives audiences the slapstick that she's associated with, and Three For Two gives her a chance to stretch as an actress.
The run time on the DVD cover—about two hours and 45 minutes—includes several bonus features. Actor Gino Conforti, a regular guest star, introduces Lucy Gets Lucky and talks about working with Ball in "Featurette: Working with Lucy." There's a segment from Art Linkletter's House Party which finds Ball handling sound effects for a parody radio show. Two episodes of Let's Talk to Lucy, Ball's 1960s radio talk show, feature friendly interviews with Martin; there are some corny graphics, but you'll also see rare photos and home movies that add to the experience. A few bloopers are also included. I wouldn't bother with "Lucy & Related Promos," since it's just plugs for other DVD releases, but the rest of the materials should intrigue Lucy's fans.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Lucy Gets Lucky is an accessible hour of slapstick and a good introduction to Lucille Ball's comedy. The rest of the package is aimed at viewers who are already Ball fans, and even they might find Three For Two slow, if they're not into the rhythm of one-act plays.
Could, say, Kelsey Grammer get the greenlight for a couple of network specials like these today? Not likely, although he probably could get the go-ahead for some wild police chases or hidden-camera nastiness. It's easy to see television has changed over the years, and these specials make for a refreshing change of pace.
Not guilty. With two of those Three For Two turning out decently,
Lucy Gets Lucky, and so does the audience.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Review content copyright © 2009 James A. Stewart; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.