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Really Retro Movie Review: 1954's "The Long, Long Trailer"

To me, "The Long, Long Trailer" is such a great film. Perhaps you have to tow a travel trailer across the country with your significant other to truly understand the emotions in this film, but, seeing how I loved this movie as a child nearly 30 years before I ever towed our trailer clear across America, I'd say it does a great job of conveying those emotions to the uninitiated viewer.

I've always been a fan of trailers and motorhomes. Even as a young kid, while some kids were into race cars or rocket ships, I was into airplanes and RV's. There's just something about a self-contained mobile unit that excites, and oddly, comforts me.  It's likely why every storyline I made up with my action figures included them having an "escape-mobile" where they could all pile in with the supplies needed to make a safe yet comfortable getaway. 

I first learned of "The Long, Long Trailer" when I was around 7 or 8 years old. My Uncle knew I loved RV's as well as watching "I Love Lucy" with Dad in the evenings on Nick-at-Nite.  Being a classic TV and film buff with a fairly extensive collection, he loaned me his VHS copy of "The Long, Long Trailer." 

I remember asking, "So, it's Lucy and Ricky in an RV?" His reply was, "Sort of.  It's Tacy and Nicky towing an RV. It's a completely separate movie with the actors who play Lucy and Ricky playing other people."  

Confused, because I thought Lucy and Ricky WERE Lucy and Ricky, I popped the tape into the VCR when he went home. 

I was instantly mesmerized. 
I'm so glad that conversation one Sunday afternoon brought this movie into my life as it's gone on to become one of my top three favorite movies of all time!  It's also given my wife and I things to laugh about during our own RV trips.

The cast is filled with Hollywood icons and several well-known character actors.  

Here are some casting highlights:

Lucille Ball as Tacy Bolton-Collini
Desi Arnaz as Nicholas "Nicky" Collini
Marjorie Main as Mrs. Hittaway
Howard McNear as Mr. Hittaway
Madge Blake as Aunt Anastacia
Walter Baldwin as Uncle Edgar

And many more...

Of course, you'd know Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz from "I Love Lucy." 

Marjorie Main has a recognizable voice and a Hollywood acting record going back to 1929!  Marjorie is best known as "Ma" in the Ma and Pa Kettle series. 

Howard McNear, you might recognize as none other than the Floyd the barber on "The Andy Griffith Show." 

Any nostalgia nerd (and you likely are one if you're reading this) would recognize Madge Blake as Aunt Harriet in the 1960's TV version of "Batman."

Walter Baldwin has his own connection to "The Andy Griffith Show," as he was the first actor to play Floyd the Barber before the show settled on McNear.  Baldwin appeared in Petticoat Junction and over 150 other film and TV roles.  


The film is based on the 1951 novel "The Long, Long Honeymoon" by Clinton Twiss.  I bought this novel off eBay a few years ago and really enjoyed it.  The book is not what I would call a laugh-a-minute funny comedy story... but I'm not sure it's supposed to be.  It's more about the struggles of new trailer ownership and married couples' interactions with the often kind yet very often strange people in the RV community.

Mrs. Hittaway "helping."

We start as Nicholas Collini and his bride-to-be Tacy are discussing their living arrangement after the upcoming wedding. Nicky has taken a new job as a civil engineer and Tacy, agreeing to follow him from job-site to job-site, wishes for a trailer to live in so that no matter where they are, they will always be "home."

They come across the "New Moon" at a trailer show, and Tacy begs Nicky to buy it.  Upon giving in and making the downpayment, Nicky realizes they'll need a new car, too, as well as a new hitch and other trailer supplies.  Nicky starts to see his bank account quickly approach zero, and he begins to panic.  As the wedding fast approaches, things rapidly deteriorate into a series of other disasters.

Finally married, the two set off as the stressed-out Nicky nervously tows their trailer to their first stop on the honeymoon. The beautiful "Breezeway Trailer Park" is where Nicky and Tacy spend their first night as a married couple.  The exterior shots of the Breezeway were filmed at the beautiful, yet unfortunately out-of-business, Treasure Island Mobile Home Park in Laguna Beach, California,   

Unfortunately, the neighbors in the trailer park are a tad too chummy, and Tacy is forced to fake an ankle injury, hoping to be left alone. The nosy Mrs. Hittaway slips Tacy a sleeping pill, and while she sleeps in the bedroom, Nicky is forced to play host to about 15 park residents in the living room.
Howard McNear and Marjorie Main as The Hittaway's

As the trip continues, the Collini's intend to spend a quiet night in the woods, but the trailer's tire gets stuck in a rut in a dirt road.  Titled at a severe angle, the trailer is stuck in what quickly turns to a puddle of mud during a sudden rainstorm.  After that catastrophe, they arrive some days later at the home of Tacy's Aunt and Uncle. Nicky accidentally backs the trailer into their carport.  By the time Nicky gets the trailer parked, the carport is destroyed, and Aunt Anastacia's prized rose bushes have been torn down. 

Things settle down after that, and the two get into a happy rhythm of marital bliss on the road. Tacy turns the house trailer into a home and begins collecting things from everywhere they've been.  She quickly gains a collection of large rocks that she intends to label and put around the patio when they arrive at their final destination.

Things begin to fall apart later on when Tacy suddenly wants to learn how to drive.  Nicky constantly criticizes her driving skills, and the two go without speaking to each other.  Eventually making up that night, the next afternoon, things take another turn for the worse.  Thinking that arriving hungry is the cause of their quarrels, Tacy attempts to cook the next afternoon while Nicky drives the last stretch for the day. The ride is too rough to even stand, and Tacy ends up severely battered and bruised. Nicky decides to take an offer on the trailer, hoping he can break even and the pair will move into a real house. Tacy is determined to keep the trailer and refuses to sell it, and Nicky reluctantly agrees.

That evening, he orders her to get rid of all of the rocks and other junk she has collected because the next day, they must climb an 8,000-foot tall mountain, and he fears the trailer weighs too much. As Nicky and Tacy drive up and down the mountain, everything Tacy had said she had gotten rid of rolls out from its hiding space.  At the top of the mountain, Nicky stops to rest and discovers Tacy's items. In a rage, he tosses everything off the cliff.

Several weeks later, the marriage has fallen apart.  When they made it down the mountain, Nicky had gone for a drive to cool off, and when he returned, Tacy had taken the trailer and left.  After a search that covered several states, he had finally found her.  Tacy was in negotiations to sell the trailer when Nicky walks in.  He starts to apologize but stops and leaves, considering it useless.  Tacy watches him leave but decides to run out into the pouring rain after him.  The film ends as the two have a tearful reconciliation. 

For a bit of fun, I thought I'd do a little Question and Answer section for this and future movie reviews.  Feel free to fill in your own answers in the comments section down below!

Who Was the MVP of the Movie?
The obvious answer here is Lucille Ball. She's positioned as the "main character" throughout the whole film, and, well, can you imagine this movie without Lucy? No, because without her, the whole thing falls flat. She plays the straight man for Desi but also gets her own laughs through her patented slap-stick comedy routine.

Who Had the Best Minor Role in This Movie?
Easily, Mrs. Hittaway (Margerie Main) is the most memorable secondary character. 

And honorable mention goes to the sweaty, overweight, shirtless trailer park owner in his tight little shorts at the Breezeway Trailer Park.  Props to him for getting his back sweat all over the upholstery of Nicky's brand new car. 

What is the Best Scene in This Movie?
I'm not sure if it's the "best," but my personal favorite is when Nicky and Tacy decide to do a little boondocking. Get your mind out of the gutter; boondocking is the RV term for "roughing it" with no power or water hookups. You can do so in a rest area, store parking lot, or in the middle of the desert. In this case, they decided to go down an "old logging road" in a remote area of the woods, and the trailer encountered rough terrain and got stuck in the mud... severely off-level. Seeing Nicky and Tacy try to eat dinner while the whole trailer is cocked at an angle makes me laugh every time. Moments later, when Tacy falls out of the bedroom door, it adds to the hysterics.

Would I Take Anything Out of This Movie?
Really there isn't anything I'd take out of this movie.  When I was in college, I fell asleep to the DVD of this movie most nights, so if anything, I'd take out the part with the loud crash and screaming of TRAILER BRAKES FIRST!  It's integral to the story, I know, but as someone who has just fallen asleep to be roused with loud noises and yelling... I could do without.

What Would I Add to This Movie?

Perhaps some more traveling or trailer park scenes and the interactions with other RV'ers.

Would This Movie Work as a Netflix/Amazon Series?
"The Long, Long Trailer" would most certainly work as a Netflix series. I picture this easily adapted to an eight or ten-episode family-friendly (or maybe young adult) comedy series. Perhaps a second season should the right stories come along. Each episode would bring about its own challenges of towing a trailer across the country and the interactions between Nicky and Tacy and those they meet along the road.  I'm thinking Robin William's "RV" meets "The Long, Long Trailer."

Does This Movie Hold Up Today?
This movie is timeless. Yes, it's a very tame comedy by any stretch of the imagination, and the musical score sounds old-fashioned, but I think the movie still works today. If you can look past the dated cars, trailers, and other technology, the gist of this film holds true today. Towing a trailer is stressful. America is a big beautiful country with wonderfully crazy people.  Married couples fight, and most often, it's over nothing.  It takes place in a time that makes me think of better days and America's "golden years," but it could just as easily occur today.

What Do I Rate This Movie?
Ok, I'll admit this isn't a Hollywood classic. As a film that fills me with nostalgia and wanderlust? It's 5 stars. As a regular film looking back objectively, it's 3.5 stars. 

Still a great movie, but I'm willing to admit that my love for RVs and "I Love Lucy" have boosted it a bit in my head.  I still highly recommend watching it, though.


  1. Saw this when I was about 10 or 11 in our local little theater. I always wanted to see it again and whe Video cassette player came in to being. I bought it. Now I have it on a disc. Watch it about once a year.