The Graceland Blog has already marked the upcoming 50th anniversary of the March 8, 1968 release of Stay Away, Joe. It’s a well done article and I recommend you read it. But you’ll find there is no duplication when you read this ElvisBlog post also marking the anniversary..
My take on this movie differs from theirs. In fact, I wrote an ElvisBlog article back in 2005 where I proclaimed it “Elvis’ Worst Movie.” However, I have since been swayed a bit by other reviews I have read and comments that have come in to the blog. For example, last year, reader Paul K noted:
“Every frame of that movie has the ‘lust for life’ in it.” Elvis himself said, “It was the most fun I ever had working on a movie.”
Blog commenter Jim said in 2013:
I really like Stay Away Joe. I understand that this film must be utter rubbish for anyone who isn’t an Elvis fan. However, as an Elvis fan, it’s nice to see Elvis enjoying himself in a movie
I think this screen grab catches the essence of what Paul and Jim said.
And as Alan Hanson pointed out on his Elvis-History Blog, the trade paper The Film Daily said this in its original review:
“It doesn’t matter that credibility is stretched. What matters is that the picture evokes a mood of mirth and happy frenzy that is catching.”
So, when I decided to watch the movie again as prep work for this post, I just let the fun, mirth, and happy frenzy cover the movie’s many faults. And I discovered a number of suggestions for you readers to enjoy Stay Away, Joe more if comes on cable again and you watch it.
Count the fights:
There is a fight scene in almost every Elvis movie, but Stay Away, Joe has them from end to end. The picture above marks the first one 17 minutes in.
Not all of the fights take place on dry land. This one started and ended in a little pond where the cattle watered.
Another fight in the water, this time with girls involved. It should be noted that all the fights were total slap-stick. Nobody seems to get hurt.
Another fight with girls involved. It was inside the house.
Fight in a truck.
Fight on top of a car.
The final fight was inside the house and brought the whole thing down.
Note The Memphis Mafia guys in the cast:
Joe Esposito has bit parts in a lot of Elvis movies. Here he plays a guy repossessing Elvis’ car, and he has one line of dialog.
Charlie Hodge is a guitar player in the band during an incredibly long party held at the house. As the bedlam goes on, they just keep playing, so Charlie is in a lot of scenes.
Sonny West has a substantial part in this movie. He is in every fight scene, every party scene, and other times as well. He has several speaking lines. His character’s name is Jackson He-Crow. (I suppose I should mention that Elvis also plays an American Indian, Joe Lightcloud.)
Here is Sonny West with one of the hot Indian girls in the film. Her name is Billie Jo Hump. I wonder if they were messing with us when they picked that name for her. Elvis reacted to her by saying, “She can chew on my moccasins any time she wants.”
Watch for the dogs:
Two or more of these dogs are in dozens of scenes. They sleep in an open convertible with Elvis during a rainstorm. But usually they are just hanging around in the background during all kind of shots. They are amazingly unflustered as fighting is going on just a few feet from them.
Look for the really stupid stuff:
Elvis herding cattle with a Cadillac (until he drives it into a river).
Elvis’ father in a bathtub with cans of beer.
Elvis climbing out from under the porch after drinking too many beers to count. (Note the dog on the left.)
One of the guys getting a good look at Elvis’ mom taking a bath.
Another party scene.
Elvis driving a car with no top, hood, doors, or seats. He is sitting on a wooden chair.
The shotgun wedding (almost)
Count the number of girls he kisses:
I usually end these movie pictorials with a shot of Elvis kissing the leading lady he ends up with at the conclusion of the film. But there is no love story aspect in Stay Away, Joe, so Elvis spreads the kissing joy around to a bunch of girls.
This is Billie Jo Hump.
This is his sister, but the kiss lingered longer than a little peck.
How do you like the vertical legs and boots in this shot?
Elvis wears that denim jacket in every kissing scene.
You’ll notice I never discussed the plot in this movie. Not really necessary, because it’s so thin as to be almost non-existent. But don’t let that stop you from watching Stay Away, Joe. Just remember to enjoy the fun Elvis is having, the happy frenzy, and all the stupid stuff.
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