Thirty-one straight nights of Elvis movies. A big thank you goes to cable channel Encore for the Elvis Collection they presented in May. This was a rare treat for Elvis fans. The last week featured repeats of three of the best Elvis movies from earlier showings, which is good if you missed any of them (or gives you a few nights to do other stuff if you don’t want to see them again so soon).
Movies Presented Last Week That I liked:
King Creole – This was a repeat from three weeks ago, so I didn’t watch. That will be the last time I’ll ever skip it when King Creole is shown commercial-free on cable. It is probably Elvis’ best movie and the cast of supporting actors is great. I like the way Elvis handled his character Danny Fisher. He would never again get to portray such a conflicted and tortured soul. King Creole was discussed in Random Thoughts Part 2.
Girl Happy – One of those silly happy Elvis movies I love so much. I really like the vibe between Elvis and Shelly Fabares in Girl Happy. Plus, lots of lovely girls in bikinis and several good songs. I can’t figure out why Encore didn’t repeat Girl Happy, instead of the lame Girls, Girls, Girls.
G.I. Blues – Another of the fun Elvis movies with pretty good music. The two dance sequences by Juliet Prowse are different and interesting. This was another repeat and has be covered in Random Thoughts Part 2.
Jailhouse Rock – I love this movie, but I skipped it because it was another repeat from the first week. It is discussed in the first Random Thoughts on Encore’s Elvis Collection. It’s a serious film that manages to have the best soundtrack of any Elvis film.
Kid Galahad – I haven’t watched this one very often, but I’m glad Encore included it in their Elvis collection. It grows on me each time. Elvis plays a modest, well-adjusted young man, who gets to sing, box and romance, while his co-stars Gig Young, Lola Albright, and Charles Bronson grapple with their serious problems.
I noticed that unlike most Elvis movies, he and love interest Joan Blackman never had a break-up before coming together at the end. A very smooth romance. I also noted that Elvis’ hair was dark brown – a distinct change from the jet black he sported the previous night in Roustabout.
The Ones I’m Tired of Watching:
Harum Scarum – Well, it was different, but I get bored watching it. The plot and action were pretty weak. The bad guys (including Red West) weren’t very believable, nor was Elvis dropping a tiger with a single Karate chop. I did like Mary Ann Mobely, though.
Change of Habit – I know other reviewers think this is pretty good movie, but I don’t. It certainly wasn’t a fun movie. Elvis was almost a bit player compared to the tribulations that Mary Tyler Moore and two other nuns encountered. There was little music, and except for “Rubberneckin,’” it was forgettable.
Roustabout – This one isn’t too bad, but it certainly would have been improved with a better love interest than Joan Freeman. The most interesting female in the cast was Sue Ann Langdon as the carny fortune teller, Madame Mijanou. She nearly duplicated this roll as Mitzi in Frankie and Johnny – both characters were busty, love-starved women on the prowl.
There is one reason I still watch Roustabout. A teenaged Raquel Welch appears in an early bar scene, and a young Teri Garr is the dancer to Elvis’ left when he sings on the outdoor stage.
Some Things I’ve Noticed Watching Twenty-four Different Elvis Movies in Four Weeks:
Lots of Elvis movie opening credits have him driving a car (motorcycle, helicopter, etc) while singing a song. Change of Habit may have been the only one that used graphics for the credits. No shots of Elvis at all.
Lots of actors show up in more than one Elvis movie. We all know about the leading ladies with rolls in multiple films: Yvonne Craig, Delores Hart, Joan Blackman, Shelly Fabares, Mary Ann Mobley, etc. But a series of consecutive viewings allows you to spot other actors. Ed Asner made his film debut in Roustabout and also played a cop in Change of Habit. Arthur O’Connell was the father figure in both Follow That Dream and Kissin’ Cousins. Jeremy Slate was a soldier buddy of Elvis’ in G.I. Blues and the nasty boat company owner in Girl, Girls, Girls. Bill Bixby competed with Elvis for the girl in Clambake, and was Elvis’ partner in Speedway. This list could go on and on, all the way down to bit players (Teri Garr actually danced in four Elvis movies).
Elvis’ Memphis Mafia buddies are in many movies. As I said before, when I know the story and dialog so well, I amuse myself studying the background characters for Joe Esposito, Red West, Charlie Hodge, Jerry Schilling and others. Try it yourself. The next time you watch an Elvis movie with a club scene, scan the audience and see who you can spot sitting at the tables.
My enjoyment of some Elvis movies is enhanced because of his fine costars in them.
Ann Margret — Viva Las Vegas
Barbara Eden — Flaming Star (not in Encore collection)
Yvonne Craig — It Happened at the World’s Fair and Kissin’ Cousins
Tuesday Weld — Wild In The Country (not in Encore Collection)
Michele Carey — Live A Little, Love A Little
Anne Helm — Follow That Dream
Donna Douglas — Frankie and Johnny
There are several costars that decrease my enjoyment in watching an Elvis movie.
Laurel Goodwin — Girls, Girls, Girls
Ursula Andress — Fun In Acapulco
Joan Freeman — Roustabout
Annette Day — Double Trouble (not in Encore Collection)
And finally, this is the Elvis movie not included in the Encore collection that I missed the most.
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