Lucy Calls the President and Creates Reunion Show!
This CBS special starring Lucille Ball is a treat for audiences and a treasure for any Lucy fan. Lucy plays 'Lucy Whittaker' a Bundy, Indian resident who calls the then President Jimmy Carter during his weekly radio show to state her concerns about the new low-cost housing project that the federal government plans to build on the outskirts of her town. If the new housing project goes through as planned it will destroy Camp Sunny Slope for under-privileged children. "How would you feel Mr. President if someone tore down Amy's tree house?", asks Lucy. Then covering the phone she exclaims to others in the room, "I've struck a nerve!" So, President Carter agrees to stop by her house the next day when he is in her area for a fund-raiser. With the President coming to dinner, everyone and their brother wants to attend! Good friend Viv chimes in, "Lucille, I'm gonna have to get my hair fixed, buy a new dress and loose twenty pounds by tomorrow!"
Penned by the original 'I Love Lucy' writers Madelyn Davis, and Bob Carroll Jr., "Lucy Calls The President" is ever-so fun to watch and co-stars several huge television personalities including Vivian Vance, Gale Gordon, Mary Wicks, Steve Allen, Mary Jane Croft and Ed McMahon.
Vivian Vance, recently diagnosed with cancer and recovering from a Bells Palsy episode, gives her usual excellent performance despite the slight paralysis in her face. She plays, Lucy's next door neighbor and best friend. (Go figure!) Playing her feisty Republican father-in-law, Gale Gordon turns in a strong performance that drums up visions of Mr. Mooney from Ball's second series, The Lucy Show. Ed McMahon, plays Lucy's husband, and it's the first time Lucille Ball plays a wife since cavorting on the screen in the late 50's with then real life hubby Desi Aranz. As always Mary Wicks as 'Aunt Mary' is flawless with excellent timing. Steve Allen is very funny as himself and Mary Jane Croft, joins the old friends too and gives an admirable and classy performance.
This appears to be the "Big Finale" for these tried and true "Lucy" players - even Marc Daniels, returns reuniting with Lucille Ball for the first time in 25 years to serve as director. Gary Morton, Lucy's second-husband, produces this funny, fast-paced vehicle for Ball along with Co-producers, Madelyn Davis and Bob Carroll, Jr. It is the only 'Lucy Special' to be shot on video tape instead of film - so the performers look a little harsher here without the advantage of "film" make-up and lighting. Vance, Croft and Wicks work with Lucille Ball for the last time in this comedic venture. Sadly it is Vivian Vance's last public performance.
It is reported that Miss Ball stops the taping of the first scene in front of the live studio audience. It seems she became quite emotional, when she realizes for the first time in her television career, her deceased mother, DeDe, is not in the audience. Luckily, Lucy's long-time friend Eve Arden is in the audience and she seeks solace from her. But, like a true professional pulls herself together and delivers a tremendous performance.
You can imagine the hilarity that breaks out as these "quirky" television characters prepare dinner and await the arrival of the First Family. Nostalgia runs rampant in "Lucy Calls The President" with Vivian and Lucy performing a traditional vaudevillian turn when they get in a western style cake-icing fight! It is great to see these two comedy legends working together again along with the supporting cast of "Lucy" stars. The comedy is top-drawer! I give it 3 out of 4 stars! ***
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