The common complaint about Elvis movies is that they are all pretty much the same story with different actresses for love interests. Elvis is either a racecar driver or pilot or boat owner, who just happens to be a singer, too.
So, you have to give credit to “Kissin’ Cousins” for breaking from the standard formula a bit. I watched it again on Elvis’ birthday as part of the four-movie special presented by cable channel Turner Classic Movies. Unfortunately, family obligations prevented me from seeing the other three: “Jailhouse Rock,” “It Happened At The Worlds Fair,” and “Viva Las Vegas.” But “Kissin’ Cousins” started at 6:15 AM and was over by 8 AM, so I finished it before anyone else even got up.
What makes “Kissin’ Cousins” different is that there are two Elvises, or at least Elvis playing two characters. One is Josh Morgan, the familiar black-haired Elvis, but the other is mountain man Jodie Tatum, a very distant cousin who looks identical except for his sandy-colored hair. Josh has two other very distant Tatum cousins, Serena and Azalea, beautiful hillbilly girls who both go after Elvis early in the script. This has happened in other Elvis movies, but I love the way he solves this dilemma. This time, his character is an Army Lieutenant, so he simply orders a Sergeant to take one girl off his hands. Nice assignment.
Of course, it wouldn’t be right unless both Elvises end up with a girl, so a beautiful WAC from the Army steno pool is introduced to be Jodie’s love interest. She wants nothing to do with him at first, but Jodie keeps after her, and finally his singing wins her over. Gee, that never happened before.
As with most Elvis movies, there are several song-and-dance scenes in “Kissin’ Cousins.” So, where do all the extra girls for this come from? Well, you see, the Tatum clan’s property is up on a mountain. Down below is Kitty Hawk Valley, where no baby boys have been born for over twenty years. (How’s that for pushing the limits of willing suspension of disbelief?) I just love the parts when fifteen or so of the love-starved Kitty Hawk girls make raids up the mountain to snag themselves Tatum men. No wonder Jodie has never left the mountain. He’s had his choice of these lovelies all these years.
“Kissin’ Cousins” was a fine way to celebrate Elvis’ birthday, and I commend Turner Classic Movies for again bringing us blocks of Elvis films on special occasions. The next time should be the Fourth of July, and I’ll be watching.
© 2006 Philip R Arnold www.elvisblog.net