starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, and James Mason
co-starring Natalie Schafer
Forever Darling is described by many viewers as a romantic fantasy, and I guess that hits the nail pretty much on the head. It also happens to be the 60th anniversary of this film this year (OH MY GOSH) and so I couldn't go without reviewing it!
Newlyweds Susan and Lorenzo Vega are very much in love after 2 months of marriage. 2 years of marriage find them still in love, but she's not all dolled up in her negligee and makeup when he leaves for work anymore. After 5 years of marriage, Lorenzo has to see himself out the door in the morning while Susan snores away upstairs.
Yah, they're heading downhill fast. Especially after an argument at dinner when Susan's cousin Millie, and her husband Henry Opdyke belittle Lorenzo's desire to test run his mosquito killer himself in an experiment that would take him and Susan out of the country for 2 years. All the years of compressed frustration against Millie's interference in his and Susan's marriage comes spewing out in glorious style. The only problem is that Susan is furious and after the dinner is over, the two of them have a righteous row that ends in him bunking downstairs in the office and her sobbing in the bedroom.
And here's where the fantasy comes in because instead of Susan and Larry working things out on their own, Susan has the help of a guardian angel. But not just any guardian angel. This one appears in the physical form of whatever she most desires, and that would be . . . James Mason. Not that I blame her, but it's darned funny! It is now up to Susan's angel to get her on the right track, meaning she needs to be the one to support her husband's career and go his way because, in the angel's words, there's no other way to go!
Before you get mad, Susan is a housewife. She appears to have very few hobbies outside of being a housewife and so, honestly, her angel is kind of right. There's nothing in Susan's life that Larry could truly be involved in, and so it's up to her to come alongside and support him. Larry's job involves his passion to eradicate mosquitoes from third-world countries which is a pretty awesome endeavor. He's a scientist and so his entire focus is on that end goal, which of course resulted in his not paying enough attention to Susan, and brought them to this point. But really, what Larry wants to do is very noble and self-sacrificing and you have to love him for that, and by the end of the movie, Susan realizes the value of his work too, so her angel turned out to be correct in the way he went about fixing their marriage.
Let's just acknowledge right now that Forever Darling was one massive plug for I Love Lucy. There. The elephant in the room is now out of the way. I even recognized quite a few of Susan's costumes as being ones that Lucy wears, including one of my absolute favorites of he lounging costumes. I didn't picture it in purple, but oh well! All you really would need to do it replace Susan and Larry with Lucy and Ricky and you wouldn't be off the mark at all in how these characters are designed. Then again, this was a shameless plug for the show.
Still, it's fun seeing Mrs. Howell (Natalie Schafer) from Gilligan's Island in a righteously obnoxious role as Susan's cousin, with all of her indignant proclamations of "I could die, I could just die!". Who came up with that Americanism?
And you can't beat James Mason. I've not seen nearly enough of his movies, but every time I do see one, I'm always reminded how much I love him. He's hilarious here in that he's playing an angel who looks like James Mason and that's how Susan perceives him . . as James Mason. Susan and Larry go to the movies one night, a James Mason movie, where he's playing this rough and tumble man in the jungle who's captured a woman to make his own. He's masculine and demanding, and Susan soaked up every moment of it to the point where she imagined herself in the picture. Thank goodness they never actually made that movie because it was TERRIBLE, but that makes it all the more funny . . . that it was made just for Forever Darling. When Susan gets back to their house and Larry has to dash off for something at work, she proceeds to stalk her angel up the stairs. Hilarious!
Susan and Larry take a camping trip at the end of the film to test his mosquito killer. You wouldn't believe the amount of things that can go wrong on a camping trip with those two. Then again, if you've watched enough I Love Lucy, than you can believe it! Zippered in your sleeping bag, a punctured raft, and all sorts of crazy things. I did love seeing her catch a salmon! The movie was filmed partially in Yosemite so I sure hope whatever river runs through there actually has salmon. Unless it was the world's biggest trout, which I guess is possible.
It is inspiring to see a married couple work things out. Because let's be honest, you won't be newlyweds forever. I'm not married, have never been married, but even I know that realism has to set in at some point. It doesn't mean you love any less, it just means you have to be more intentional and less emotional about your love. More head instead of heart as it were. And I think that message gets across really well in this movie, never mind that Desi and Lucy's marriage didn't work out in the end, I'm pretty sure that Larry and Susan made it. And yes, I do love the theme song Forever Darling and Desi sings it beautifully both in English and in Spanish.
In the end, if you don't mind some slapstick comedy and marital bickering, then you'll probably enjoy Forever Darling. Is it as good or as funny as The Long, Long Trailer? Of course not, but I've ended up loving Forever Darling for its own merit. ❤