Tag Archives: Harum Scarum

Fun and Games on Elvis’ Movie Sets

Elvis Tossing Football off Set on 'Follow That Dream'

Three months ago I shared a few excerpts from the new book Elvis Humor by Bo Keeley. Bo had a unique concept for producing a successful book about Elvis. He went out and bought 43 other books on Elvis, and searched through them to find 290 anecdotes about his humor and love of fooling around and pulling stunts on others.

Elvis Humor

 

Elvis Humor is organized into many categories like the three in the subtitle: Girls, Guns, and Guitars. Last time we looked at a few from the Graceland section, but this time the stories of fun and games take place in the Movies category. Bo Keeley precedes each story with a little background and follows with the original source information.

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Wet Shirt

The Memphis Mafia was a mobile family that accompanied Elvis wherever he went, including onto Hollywood movie sets. Each had a specific duty such as bodyguard, valet, sport trainer, scheduling logistics, or playing in the bands. In Hollywood, the function of the group was to make sure Elvis had a good time. The boss always said that when making movies stopped being fun, he would stop making movies…

Elvis on Motorcycle in Clambake

I walked on the set of Clambake one morning. A bucket of water hit me from way up on one of the high catwalks. Elvis had a dressing room trailer that they pull from different locations. And I was there waiting for somebody to come out. Well, Red West had taken two buckets of water and crawled to the top of that studio. And I’m sitting there waiting. All of the sudden, a bucket of water hit me all over my head. And, when I looked up, the second one got me right in the face. Then I went to wardrobe and got a dry shirt. I hung my shirt up. And I went over there about 30 minutes later, it was still ringing wet.

Wet Shirt

We broke for lunch, and when we came back, it was still wet. About an hour later, I came back, it’s still ringing wet. Well, this time I shot around the trailer, and I stopped and looked back where my shirt was hanging. And Elvis had one of those pumps, you know, that they use to keep the greenery looking good on the set. Every time I’d walk away, he’d go pump it and drown my shirt again. But that’s the type of thing we’d just for fun.

(Attribution missing on this one)

 

Wigged Out In Kissin’ Cousins

An Army officer returns to the Smokey Mountains and tries to convince his kinfolk to allow th Army to build a missle site on their land. On Arriving, he discovers he has a lookalike cousin…

Elvis - Kissin Cousins Poster

Elvis played twins in the movie Kissin’ Cousins for MGM in 1963. Although he got a kick out of seeing two of himself on the screen, before filming started he became quite uncooperative with the director. He was required to wear a blond wig as one of the twins, and because he though the hairpiece made him look stupid, he refused to come out of his dressing room. The studio heads contacted Colonel Parker, who came down to the set to try to coax Elvis out. He told Elvis he was wasting the good money the studio was paying him, as well as hurting the other actors and prolonging everyone’s day.

Elvis with Black and Blonde Hair in Kissin' Cousins

When Elvis finally emerged with the wig on his head, he was startled to see everyone on the set wearing blond wigs. Even the Colonel, with his ever-present cigar poking out of his mouth, was sporting a curly blond wig on top of his bald head. Elvis rolled over laughing. He forgot his nervousness and apologized to the cast and crew for his behavior.

Jim Curtin, Elvis:Unknown Stories Behind the Legend, P.84

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Frightening, Isn’t It?

Elvis found out by watching movies that Tony Curtis wore mascara, so that on film and when they took photos, his eyes would be more defined. So, Elvis started doing it also when he performed. He was one of the very few men, with those Roman chiseled features, who could get away with it…

Young Elvis wearing eyeliner.

Young Elvis wearing eyeliner.

He was eagerly looking forward to one particular film, Harum Scarum (1965), seeing it as a chance to create a genuinely interesting character.

Elvis - Harum Scarum Soundtrack Album

He identified his role with Rudolph Valentino’s in The Sheik. At last, he thought, a part he could sink his teeth into. He saw a physical resemblance between himself and Valentino, especially in profile.

Rudolph Valentino

During production, he came home darkened with makeup, dressed in white harem pants and a white turban. He looked extremely handsome, much more so than Valentino.

Elvis Wearing Turban in Harum Scarum

Tilting his head down, with a piercing gaze, he asked rhetorically, “Frightening, isn’t it, how much I look like him? How does this get to ya?” He took me in his arms Valentino style and dipped me a la the famous poster of The Sheik.

Rudolph Valentino The Shiek

Night after night he kept his makeup and turban on all through dinner and up until bedtime.

Priscilla Presley, Elvis and Me. P.211.

 

Just Plain Ol’ Elvis

Elvis blamed his fading popularity in the 60s on his humdrum movies, and yet the silver screen gave many of his fans around the world their only opportunity to view him. He stayed sane through the decade with pranks on the sets involving the Memphis Mafia, sports, and girls. In 1962, he played Walter Gulick, who is returning from his military service to his birthplace where he was orphaned as an infant, and grew up elsewhere, but always wanted to return to where he was from. Walter is happy to take any kind of work, but his devastating right hook send him down a different path as Kid Galahad…

Elvis - Kid Galahad Poster

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During the filming of Kid Galahad in the winter of 1961, Elvis’ friends ordered a custom-made director’s chair as a prank gift. The chair had “Mr. Presley” stamped on the back of it. They presented it to the star on the first day of filming in mid-November. Elvis turned to the crew, the director, and the producer and asked, “Mr. Presley? Why so formal?” Director Phil Karlson said, “Only the best for our star.”

Elvis in Director's Chair

Elvis hated the formality of it. He wanted to be treated like one of the boys, and the chair destroyed the illusion. The next day a new chair replaced the formal one. The bright red canvas sported bold print that read “JUST PLAIN OL’ ELVIS.” Elvis laughed out loud and plopped into the chair.

Jim Curtin, Elvis: Unknown Stories Behind the Legend, P.98

 

Memphis Mafia on Set

Robert ‘red’ West was a close friend of Elvis and the first member of Presley’s inner circle, known as the Memphis Mafia. He first met Elvis in high school, where he was a year behind him, and defended Elvis in a bathroom brawl. After Elvis’ discharge from the Army in 1960, West was employed as one of Elvis’ bodyguards, and not only was quick to his boss’ defense, but strong on the practical jokes. West also became a movie stuntman appearing in 16 of Elvis’ films in the 60s, usually playing extras or bit and supporting parts…

Red West Before Swinging at Elvis - Tickle Me

Red West remembers that there was so much playing around on Clambake [four of the stories in this post are from that movie]. We sure did cut up on Clambake, but I don’t think we held up production any. There were pie-throwing, firecracker fights, and water bombardments.

“In one scene,” Red remembers, “Bill Bixby was before the cameras, which were rolling, and Elvis walked in and hit him with a cream pie.”

Cream Pie in the Face

“Up until that time, director Arthur Nadel hadn’t been hit. I thought he felt a little bit left out of it. So on the last day of shooting, he was dressed in a raincoat and rain hat, virtually inviting us to hit him. We didn’t. But that night as we had the end-of-movie party, he changed into a suit. After the party, he was going to a meeting. Well, we all made a little speech about how we love him and what a great guy he was to work with and what a great guy he was. Well, he gets choked up and begins to say thanks, and that’s when we hit him with a pie right in the face. At last he got the pie he wanted, but he was fully dressed.”

Red West, Elvis: What Happened, P.273

 

Boom Truck

After graduating from high school, Elvis took a full-time job driving a truck for Crown Electric Company. His pay was $1 an hour. Elvis enjoyed driving a truck for 14 months until the fall of 1954. His truck driving career was interrupted by a phone call from Sam Phillips inviting Elvis to record at Sun Studio. It was resumed in 1965 on a Hollywood set…

Girl Happy Poster

Elvis was in a restless mood during the filming of Girl Happy. In order to get in Elvis’ good graces, as well as to lift his mood, one of the cameramen offered Elvis the chance to drive the camera boom truck around the studio lot. Excited at the prospect, Elvis ran over to the truck before the cameraman could change his mind. Elvis maneuvered the vehicle slowly at first, familiarizing himself with the gadgets. Within minutes, he was driving like an expert.

Elvis on Camera Boom

Elvis began to get restless and drove the truck all over the lot much too fast. The cameraman ran after him, shouting at him to slow down, but Elvis would not listen. As he manipulated the large vehicle around the sets, he came within inches of knocking down permanent light fixtures and several backdrops. Panicking, the cameraman started to direct Elvis and prayed that the actor would listen. Elvis slowed the vehicle down and drove it around the lot at a reasonable speed. Fifteen minutes later, he parked the truck and shut off the engine. He thanked the cameraman for the opportunity. Relieved that nothing terrible happened, the cameraman had nonetheless learned his lesson. He never allowed the King to ride in the boom truck again.

Jim Curtain, Elvis: Unknown Stories Behind the Legend, P.86

 

Sidecar Singers

Elvis waterskied on McKeller Lake, Memphis as a teenager, so he was a natural in the 1967 musical Clambake. He is heir to an oil fortune who trades places with a waterski instructor at a Florida hotel to see if girls like him for himself, rather than for his father’s money…

Elvis on Camera Boom

We were in Nashville cutting the soundtrack or Clambake with the Jordanaires, and Elvis told them, “Y’all sing on the chorus with me.” Well, the director of the picture was there, and he said, “Elvis, I don’t think you understand where the song’s going in the picture. In this particular scene, you’re riding down the highway on a motorcycle singing this song.”

Elvis Singing on a Motorcycle in Clambake

“The voices can’t sing along with you. Where would we put the singers?”  Elvis thought for a second and said, “Put ‘em the same damn place you put the band.” That was the end of that.

Rose Clayton, Elvis Up Close, P.226

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Cricket Interlude

Filming for the musical Follow That Dream began July 6, 1961 in the summer heat of Florida. Recording sessions had taken place at RCA studio in Nashville. Six songs were recorded for the movie, and a distressed Presley insisted the worst song “Sound Advice” be omitted from the soundtrack. However, to director Gordon Douglas, the worst recording of the film was the crickets on location…

Follow That Dream Poster 2

The film crew had a difficult time recording the soundtrack for Follow That Dream. Filming took place in Florida from July through August 1961, and the crickets caused major problems. The crickets seemed to have an uncanny instinct to congregate at the exact location of Elvis’ movie set. Every time Elvis’ voice was heard, the crickets began to sing; every time he stopped, silence filled the set.

Lots of Crickets

Director Gordon Douglas yelled at the crickets to shut up, which they did. He turned to Elvis and asked him why the crickets were making so much noise. Elvis smirked and blurted out, “Maybe they’re Pat Boone fans.” Elvis started to sing with the crickets and remarked that it even sounded like they were chirping a Pat Boone song. Everyone laughed.

Douglas had to postpone that day’s filming. To make sure that the crickets would not cause further delays, he called an insect specialist.

Jim Curtin, Elvis: Unknown Stories Behind the Legend, P.98

 

Firecracker Battle

When Elvis lit a firecracker, it was to ease tension, make a point, or bring people together. When he lit dozens of them…

Stash of Firecrackers

In March 1967, Elvis was working on the movie Clambake. While he was having his make-up done by make-up man Dan Greenway, one of the crew members tossed a lit firecracker into the trailer. An all-out firecracker war was soon under way.

Elvis lit a firecracker to toss under a crew member’s chair. He misjudged, however, and the cracker landed on top. As the crew member sat down, the firecracker blew a hole in his pants. Elvis laughed so hard he did not hear one of his bodyguards behind him until a larger cracker popped right under his own read end. He quickly ran to his dressing room and retrieved his own stash of fireworks. The firecracker fights continued for several days. The set looked and sounded like a war movie. Even director Arthur Nadel got involved in the action; he eventually appeared on set sporting a German war helmet.

German Army Helmet

Rear ends were singed and fingers were burned, but by the time some action was finally caught on film, everyone was in a great mood and it showed.

Jim Curtin, Elvis: Unknown Stories Behind the Legend, P.100

 

 

Elvis Humor on Amazon

My thanks to Bo Keeley for agreeing to let me use excerpts from his book in this post. If you are interested in getting a copy of Elvis Humor – Girls, Guns & Guitars, click here.

 

 

© 2016 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

50th Anniversary Movie Pictorials — Harum Scarum: 1965

Elvis Waking up After Abduction in Harum Scarum

In my opinion, this photo represents the only thing in Harum Scarum to justify watching it. Certainly it is not the plot, acting, songs, or the action scenes. No, it is the constant parade of scantily-clad lovelies. They come in many varieties – a princess, a damsel in distress, a villain, these slave girls (they dress nice for slaves, don’t they?), and three belly dancers.

Harum Scarum was Elvis’ nineteenth movie, and it premiered on November 24, 1965.

There are some silly Elvis movies that I enjoy watching, Tickle Me, Kissin’ Cousins, Live A Little to name a few. But Harum Scarum really isn’t that much fun and strains all creditability. For example, Elvis has been drugged and whisked off by the bad guys and where does he wake up? Not in a prison cell, but surrounded by the beauties above. Even worse, he sings a whole song to them before he realizes he’s not dreaming and says, “Hey, you’re real.”

Movie within a Movie in Harum Scarum

Here’s the device they used to start the film – a movie within a movie. That’s Elvis fighting a bad guy in Arabian Nights type movie being shown to all the important people of the kingdom of Babelstan. After Elvis beats off the villains, he has to battle a leopard. No problem. He gives it just one karate chop and kills it.

Elvis about to Karate Chop a Tiger in Garum Scarum

Elvis Karate Chopping a Tiger in Harum Scarum2

Sorry for the blurry shot, but that leopard was moving fast.

Anyway, there were some real villains in that audience viewing the movie, and they somehow get the idea that the American actor has amazingly talented killing hands for real. And because they believe he can get access to the king, they decide to blackmail him to “eliminate a person of great Importance.”

Let’s go back to that damsel in distress in the photo above for a moment.

Elvis Kissing Girl after Saving Her in Harum Scarum

Once he rescues her, she plants a kiss on him. In my opinion, this is the best on-screen kiss Elvis ever did. Long, sensuous lip-lock. Ladies, check it out. It happens early, so you don’t have to watch a lot of the movie to see it.

Sonny West in Harum Scarum

One way I amuse myself when watching Elvis’ bad movies is looking for cameo appearances by his Memphis Mafia buddies. Can you spot Sonny West in the back row?

Red West as Villian in Harum Scarum

Here’s Red West playing one of the bad guys known as the Assassins. He’s in a number of scenes.

Elvis and Thief with Bananas in Harum Scarum

This guy is a conniving marketplace thief who ends up helping Elvis beat the Assassins. However, the more scenes he was in, the more I wished he’d go away. I only added this screen grab because he looks obsessed with the banana and Elvis seems amused. Feel free to add your own caption to the picture.

.Elvis, Thief and Water Lillies in Harum Scarum

Another cinematic highlight staring Elvis and this guy.

Elvis using Karate Chop on Assasin in Harum Scarum

Elvis does a bunch of Karate chops throughout the movie, but never kills anybody. He says his hits will put them out of commission for about an hour. Guess he does have pretty talented hands after all.

Fran Jeffries and Elvis in Harum Scarum

This is lovely villian Aishah played by Fran Jeffries. Elvis didn’t waste any time putting a move on her after she came out of the tent.

Elvis Kissing Fran Jeffries in Harum Scarum

But she tricked him and knocked him out with drugged wine. At least he got in a kiss before he keeled over (She was the second of four women Elvis kissed in the film. Might be a record number).

Elvis Singing in Jail in Harum Scarum

Here’s Elvis singing a song in prison. Of course, there was background music from that talented invisible band that shows up in so many Elvis movies. I’ve got to compile a list of all the movies where Elvis ended up in jail. Let’s see: Jailhouse Rock, Girl Happy, Blue Hawaii, and probably some others I can’t think of.

Elvis and Belly Dancers in Harum Scarum

These are the three belly dancers mentioned above. They were actually in a number of non-dancing scenes, a nice distraction when the plot got lame.

Little Girl Dancing in Harum Scarum

This little girl also did a belly dance for Elvis. I wish they had cut the scene. It was totally inappropriate and cringe worthy.

Elvis leads the Raid in Harum Scarum

I like this shot of Elvis. He is leading a motley crew of folks taking on the Assassins, and he giving directions on what everybody should do.

 

Mary Ann Mobley When she First Sees Elvis in Harum Scarum

We will finish this pictorial with shots of Elvis’ love interest, Princess Shalimar, played by Mary Ann Mobley. This is when she first laid eyes on Elvis. As you can see, she was most impressed. They talked for one minute and thirty-seven seconds of screen time, and then rode horses to the Pool of Omar without speaking. Then he spent two minutes singing to her followed by a kiss and a few more seconds of dialog. That’s all it took – they were both in love.

Mary Ann Mobley When she First Sees Elvis in Harum Scarum

Earlier in the movie, Elvis sang to five women while thinking he was asleep, but here we have the Princess gazing into a pool and not only seeing Elvis but hearing him sing. Mystical stuff for sure.

Mary Ann Mobley Getting Mad at Elvis in Harum Scarum

Mary Ann Mobley is so sweet and composed during the whole movie, except for this scene. Here she is angry with Elvis because she thinks he is out to harm her father the king. I like her in both movies she made with Elvis, but I much prefer the aggressive hottie she played in Girl Happy, even though she lost Elvis to Shelly Fabares.

Elvis Hugging Mary Ann Mobley in Girl Happy

But in Harum Scarum, she gets her man, and then the movie ends with this.

Elvis Kissing Mary Ann Mobley at End of Harum Scarum

 

 

© 2015 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

Elvis’ Worst Movie — Who Needs Brackets

Elvis Movie Madness

Have you been voting in Graceland’s new promotion, Elvis Movie Madness? It is a pretty clever idea inspired by the NCAA Basketball Tournament, commonly known as “March Madness.” They even copied the famous tournament brackets so millions of fans can determine Elvis’ Best Movie.

Elvis Movie Madness Brackets

If you aren’t familiar with how these brackets work, you pick your favorite movie from each pair of choices down the left and right sides. The winners then pair off in the second, third and fourth brackets until there are only two movies left to battle for the crown. The shot of the brackets is too small to read, so here is a bigger version of the first round pairings. The losers in each pairing have been marked with a slash.

Elvis Music Madness Round 1 Region 1Elvis Music Madness Round 1 Region 1aElvis Music Madness Round 1 Region 2Elvis Music Madness Round 1 Regions 2a

Elvis Music Madness Round 1 Region 3Elvis Music Madness Round 1 Region 3aElvis Music Madness Round 1  Region 4
Elvis Music Madness Round 1 Region 4a
Here is a list of the sixteen movies that were eliminated in round one.

Flaming Star
Follow That Dream
Easy Come, Easy Go
Double Trouble

Kissin’ Cousins
Wild in the Country
Spinout
Stay Away Joe

The Trouble With Girls
Clambake
Live A Little, Love A Little
Frankie and Johnny

Paradise, Hawaiian Style
Speedway
Harum Scarum
Charro

There are some real stinkers in this list, and it got me thinking about what might be Elvis’ worst movie. Just for kicks, I Googled “Worst Elvis Presley Movie,” and lots of results came up. However, it is interesting to look at that top three sites Google found.

IMDb:

IMBd Elvis Movie Rankings

The Internet Movie Database is a treasure trove of information about films, television programs, and video games, including cast, production crew, fictional characters, biographies, plot summaries, trivia and reviews. In 1998, it became a subsidiary of Amazon.com.

Ranker:

Ranker Elvis Movie Rankings

I never heard of this site, but Ranker is a lot of fun. They have lists of the best and worst for every subject you can think of.

USA Today:

USA Today Elvis Movie Rankings

This national newspaper is certainly a credible source. While Ranker and IMDb ranked all 31 of Elvis’ movies from top to bottom, USA Today picked just the Top 10 and Worst 3.

So, here are their picks for the worst Elvis movie.

IMDb: Harum Scarum, Double Trouble, Spinout

Ranker: Harum Scarum, Easy Come, Easy Go, Double Trouble

USA Today: Harum Scarum, Easy Come, Easy Go, Paradise, Hawaiian Style

Elvis in Harum Scarum

 

Well, we have a consensus here. Harum Scarum is the runaway choice for the worst Elvis movie. The nod for next worse seems to go to Easy Come, Easy Go, followed by Double Trouble.

Although IMDb does not publish official critiques, it does encourage comments from the public. In fairness, it should be said that there are some positive reviews included for the movies ranked as Elvis’ three worst. However, there is a preponderance of negative comments, and some of them for the consensus winner (loser?) you might find interesting.

Harum Scarum:

“Even Elvis haters looking for a cheap laugh will find themselves bored by this exercise.”

“The film is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson’s book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of the 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made.”

“This is not the Elvis of folklore, nor is it the Elvis that will return one day and save us from mediocrity. This is the dry Elvis, milked fully, udders raw, yet ever sedated.”

“Colonel Tom Parker, who usually took great care in the movie properties acquired for Elvis, must have cringed with the lemon he got Elvis stuck in here.”

“Reportedly lensed in a mere 18 days, and for the sake of cost-cutting, everything was shot on back-lot MGM soundstages instead of actual locations in the Middle East.”

“There’s one jaw-dropping musical scene that’s borderline soft-kiddie porn when Presley watches as a pre-teen girl with slits in her dress that are WAIST-HIGH gyrates and flounces around faux-seductively. It’s really bizarre, inappropriate, wildly politically-incorrect, and sure to invoke discomfort in some viewers. It’s also just about the only thing in the film that can guarantee that the audience is awake!”

“Should be called Yawnum Snorum”

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© 2015 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

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