Forever, Darling [1956]

The hardworking Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball star in the urbane and witty Forever Darling, a 1956 romantic comedy, made at the height of the couple's popularity as co-stars of I Love Lucy, about the difficulty of forging marital harmony. Arnaz plays unpretentious, visionary chemist Lorenzo "Larry" Vega, whose passion for working on a powerful chemical insecticide for the benefit of humankind means little to his wife, Susan (Ball). A creature of high society, Susan is conflicted about her destiny. Should she be concerned with acquiring a bigger house and socializing with the right people, or should she follow Larry as he takes his insecticide on a two-year field study in tropical jungles? Attempting to guide her toward the right decision is a dapper, guardian angel, who happens to take the form of James Mason because Mason is Susan's fantasy man. The script by Helen Deutsch (I'll Cry Tomorrow) indulges I Love Lucy fans with plenty of slapstick set pieces plugged into an extended camping scene. But there's also some flashy banter--Arnaz is very convincing putting well-heeled snobs in their place--and a very clever sequence in which Susan imagines herself as the heroine in a movie she happens to be watching. (A movie starring, yes, James Mason.) There's a fun, special feature in which Arnaz and Ball take time out from production on their television show to plug Forever Darling and reveal the secret of a truly happy marriage--and then get into a beef. --Tom Keogh

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