Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! Last week marked the 105th anniversary of Desi Arnaz’s birth, and with the recent debut of an Amazon documentary, Lucy And Desi (directed by Amy Poehler, produced by Ron Howard), I thought I would use this entry to share a review.
Unfortunately, after having screened it, I don’t have much to say. It’s beautifully produced with unprecedented access to archival material — particularly audio recordings of both Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz supplied by their kids — that will impress even the most ardent Lucy fans. (Incidentally, I myself provided a complete copy of their joint 1949 appearance on The Ed Wynn Show.) However, in terms of information and insight, I found the commentary relatively shallow — filled with the old familiar clichés (including a few inaccuracies — e.g., Desi Arnaz DID NOT invent the TV rerun) and some ham-fisted attempts at contemporary relevance, where lazy generalities fail to be a comparable substitute for unique dramatic analysis. Ultimately, I do recommend it — because of how it looks and what it contains — but as far as the biographical interpretation goes, veteran Lucy fans should not expect anything fresh or illuminating.
So, with that out of the way, I’ll take the rest of this post to share a related rarity — with subscribers who comment below to alert me of their non-commercial interest. It’s a copy of “At Sixty-Five,” a special episode of The Jackie Gleason Show that aired on January 12, 1957, when the comedian was on vacation and his variety series got taken over by Eddie Cantor, who was honored with a program celebrating his 65th birthday. Guests included Cantor’s old vaudeville pals George Burns and Gracie Allen — who appear in a filmed routine — and both Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, the latter of whom worked with Cantor early in her career as a Goldwyn Girl. Sadly, as with 1952’s Stars In The Eye, despite appearing in the same broadcast, these two famous sitcom couples don’t ever interact. But both of their segments are cute, and as an excerpt, in honor of Lucy and Desi, here’s their scene with Cantor from this special show. Enjoy!
Come back next week for a new Wildcard! And stay tuned Tuesday for more sitcom fun!