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Sat Aug 04, 2007 3:55 am

Well said, ekenee.

Sat Aug 04, 2007 5:08 am

I think it is sad that expectations in 1963-64 for an artist as GREAT as Elvis -- while pop culture was exploding as it did in 1955-56 -- was that if he made a fluffy, cheap "Beverly Hillbillies" comedy knock-off, with mediocre at best music, that was "OK."

We're talking ELVIS PRESLEY. He was twenty-eight years old. He blew open a whole generation of music and changed the world.

Surely the bar could have been set a little higher.

Sat Aug 04, 2007 6:09 am

I was 14 at the time. All I cared about at the time was that I was entertained. I was. It's all water under the bridge. What's done is done.
Let it go!! Elvis survived. Remember the '68 Comeback? I suggest more harm was done to the "Legacy" by the mess Elvis let himself become in the last 3-4 years of his life than anything the "movie years" wrought. The fat, over medicated, Vegas Elvis is the image that's fixed in people's minds. Not matinee idol movie Elvis. The movie years are nothing more than an after thought. If that.
Last edited by JerryNodak on Sat Aug 04, 2007 6:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

Sat Aug 04, 2007 6:16 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:We're talking ELVIS PRESLEY. He was twenty-eight years old. He blew open a whole generation of music and changed the world.

Surely the bar could have been set a little higher.


AGREED.

But I think you underestimate the mythological aspect of Elvis Presley. These films, horrific as many of them were, added to the mystique of Elvis -- Elvis in a turban, Elvis as a blonde twin, Elvis with a beard, and here's one you should recognise: Elvis as a doctor. Preposterous? Quite often, yes. Part of the EP Hall of Mirrors? Absolutely.

Here is a pertinent read:

Fun in Acapulco

"There's something about Elvis that a single ethnic or racial identity cannot contain. [. . .] You have a figure who breaks down if you fix him narrowly." (Greil Marcus)

It's perhaps fitting that Elvis Presley made Fun in Acapulco without in fact visiting Mexico.

Though the film makes much of Acapulco's stunning coastal setting, and especially the cliffs from which Presley's character, Mike Windgren, dives to prove his manhood and get over the vertigo "problem" caused by his involvement in a circus accident that killed his brother, Elvis's presence in Mexico is only ever virtual, achieved through the use of back projection (previously discussed here), body doubles, and sets and stages recreated in a US studio.

Elvis functions like a spectre, a mediatized ghost overlaid over images of sun, sand, and coast, city streets, bars, hotels, and lounges. The magic of film and recorded sound can place this spectral Elvis anywhere, anytime. No wonder he continues to have hit records thirty years after his premature death, his image and voice transcending temporal or geographical distance.

A key component of popular culture, and the property that allows for its dispersal by means of the mass media, is its iterability. Fun in Acapulco was Presley's thirteenth film, but by no means his last, one in a series of what became increasingly formulaic repetitions of the same basic plot in which the singer played down-at-heel characters redeemed through music and irresistible to women.

Here, he is a fired deck-hand turned lifeguard who makes his name as a singer in hotels and clubs and who has to fend off the simultaneous advances of a young Mexican woman bullfighter (Elsa Cárdenas) and his hotel's Eastern European Assistant Social Director (Ursula Andress).

Most importantly, however, the film has to allow for the various set-piece musical numbers in which Elvis plays, well, Elvis, with his trademark vocal and physical gestures, all here adapted to a Latin beat. A certain reciprocity ensues: Elvis goes Latin (the film's big hit was the catchy "Bossa Nova Baby"), while Latin goes Elvis (the various hotel managers are made to bid for his performances, Cárdenas pursues him single-mindedly, and his macho Mexican rival has finally to admit defeat). Again and again: Elvis's music, and his spectral image, triumph over all adversities.

In some senses, then, the latinidad adopted by Fun in Acapulco is simply one more example of the minor variations within difference that constitute US (and more generally, Western) pop culture. Here, Elvis goes Latin; in King Creole he had gone jazz; in Blue Hawaii, Pacific Islander; and so on and so forth. Elvis proves himself to be a musical chameleon--without, for all that, ever ceasing to be instantly identifiable as Elvis.

Mediatized iterability, expansive reproduction through virtuality, and domesticated hybridity: these factors explain the now global spread of US mass culture. Any resistance is overcome first through charm, and second through the reiteration and (re-)representation of the potential sources of such resistance, but now on US terms.

So Elvis does Latin better than the house singer ("el trovador") that he rapidly eclipses, and Elvis (or rather, his double) even reproduces Acapulco's prime, exotic spectacle of the cliff dive: the tourists come to see the great Mexican diver enact this somewhat savage (because life-threatening) ritual, but find instead the all-American Elvis re-enacting it (complete with visit to cliff-top shrine) in his place.

http://screened.blogspot.com/2005/10/fu ... pulco.html


I realise you were speaking in terms of AT THE TIME and I think we can all get behind that. But there's more at stake than mere filmic quality now. The Comeback Special wasn't simply a proclamation of talent, but a recovery of identity. In biblical terms, the 60's movies are Jesus in the wilderness, at threat of losing his identity from temptation and greed, and that also makes them an essential part of EP's journey through life, serving to make the before and after even deeper and more essential. The films, like EP, deserve better coverage.

Sat Aug 04, 2007 6:38 am

I guess it depends on your perspective which is always the case. If you can watch a film like this and be entertained...more power to you. I can't watch something like this without thinking what a shameful waste of talent and how much stress it caused him.

Also, I understand that it is from the past and what is done is done. This is an Elvis board and is a forum for fans to talk about all things Elvis. When you get right down to it, everything that happened when Elvis was alive is done. If we weren't allowed to discuss things that happened in the past, this wouldn't be such an entertaining place to visit.

Sat Aug 04, 2007 8:56 am

DJC wrote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think it is sad that expectations in 1963-64 for an artist as GREAT as Elvis -- while pop culture was exploding as it did in 1955-56 -- was that if he made a fluffy, cheap "Beverly Hillbillies" comedy knock-off, with mediocre at best music, that was "OK."

*****************************************

Believe me, I fully understand what are saying. "Kissin' cousins" is no "gone with the wind". Its not even close to "jailhouse rock".

Elvis' film career is only one of many missed opportunities and let downs.

RCA, Paramount, MGM, the colonel, and sam phillips, all under-estimated what all Elvis was capable of doing. We should be enjoying ELvis on DVD this year with Elvis starring in "thunder road" and any other dramatic script that he was offered. We should be viewing "Hawaii 61" on DVD. Or "Elvis live in London" DVD Or any other extraordinary thing that Elvis could have done, but it just didn't work out that way. We have what we have.

The Elvis movie is its own genre. They had a formula. This was his niche. And he was lucky enough to be given the chance to make thirty some movies. Not many singers get that chance. And even while the British invasion came in, Elvis may have put his studio recording career on hold, but he became a huge movie star. So for 7 years he was only available thru the movies. He was not available for television or concerts. We look at this now and think, wow, that was a heck of a long time. But it really wasn't. 7 years goes by very fast. Roustabout was very popular and became a number one album. Viva las vegas came out and was probably his most popular movie of all time. They did test him with "wild in the country" and "flaming star". The test proves that they didn't make the same amount of money than they did with the musicals. If he kept making serious movies and not making any money, then his movie career would have just ended right there in 1962 or 63. The studio's would have just stopped. But they knew how to market him and make money. But they got greedy by lowering the overhead which in the long run caused the box office totals to dwindle. They made a cheaper product which cuased it to be of inferior quality, but then the studio's say, ELvis has lost his box office attraction.

Here is a thought. We know that many of the soundtracks from the mid 60's were below par, but with FTD releasing all these outtakes, it really does make for a FUN listen. Can you imagine if they were to discover all the film outtakes to these movies? It would be the video equivelent. Elvis and the guys joking around and shooting each other with squirt guns and all of it campured on camera and ruining the take. If we had those fun outtakes, I think Elvis' 60's movies would be looked at a little differently.

"No messages or this and that--just pure entertainment" Elvis-1972

In closing these movies are fun and light for the most part. So take them as such. Sometimes I am in the mood to watch a hitchcock film, then maybe James Bond, then a Jim Carrey Ace Ventura, or maybe a documentary. No one is always in the mood for a serious type movie.
The point is, even this fluff, has its place in history and will be enjoyed for years and years. And my whole point of all of this is I am more dissappointed in all the things Elvis did not get to accomplish, rather than to be dissappointed at what he left us with.

Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:22 am

JerryNodak wrote:...I suggest more harm was done to the "Legacy" by the mess Elvis let himself become in the last 3-4 years of his life than anything the "movie years" wrought.
The fat, over medicated, Vegas Elvis is the image that's fixed in people's minds.
Not matinee idol movie Elvis.
The movie years are nothing more than an after thought.
If that.


You may be right.

But, in the 70's, Elvis was trying his best and however poor his performances might have been, in those later years, they were all he could achieve, given his state of health and the circumstances he found himself in at the time.

In [most of] those 60's films, he wasn't giving his best, he was just coasting along, barely scratching the surface of his formidable talent, carrying out his contractual obligations and making as little effort as he could get away with.

That's the difference.

Sat Aug 11, 2007 11:10 pm

I just watched this on DVD last night and its reputation is just. The Hillbilly element unlike, the Beverly Hillbillies TV show, which worked largely as satire as a comment on material greed and the absurdity of upper crust preoccupations, is so insulting that Elvis should have passed. In particular, the song "Barefoot Ballad" is a blatant insult to the world that created Elvis and one of the cultures he represented.

Unlike Blue Hawaii there is really no effort to entertain at all in this movie. The musical numbers are slapped together and unimaginatively filmed. Elvis sings several songs standing in one place or just walking down a hill. The "jokes" are forced cliche's and half-hearted. I cringed at times at Elvis' performance, but noticed that the majority of the performers give half-hearted performances. We all know that this film was rushed through production and it shows in the acting many performers rush their lines, throw away their lines stiffly or overplay their lines. This is especially evident in the secondary performances like the soldiers, the newspaper reporter and the general.

What kept coming at me watching this movie in 2007 is "why"?" You have a potentially dynamic lead with a big ticket salary. You have talented supporting performers including Arthur O'Connell, who was wonderful with Elvis just two years before in Follow That Dream also playing a hillbilly but one with three dimensions, and Jack Albertson. You have all this stuff and the resources of a major studio and you just slap them all in a cheap drive in throwaway. I don't understand it. What makes even less sense is that the same year Elvis released a wonderfully entertaining movie in Viva Las Vegas that grossed more than any Elvis movie in history. Yet this became the model. It's perverse.

I disagree with Colin that Elvis doesn't give effort here. According to Lance Legault, he staged his own rehearsals when time was not allowed. His singing is largely superb despite disenchantment with material.

There's no denying that KC was a significant hit. It was MGM's second highest grosser of the year (behind VLV). Perhaps it was the novelty of two Elvises. But VLV was significantly bigger and better reviewed and is today better remembered.

Sun Aug 12, 2007 12:52 am

likethebike wrote: You have all this stuff and the resources of a major studio and you just slap them all in a cheap drive in throwaway. I don't understand it.

************************************
Here it is in a nut shell. The studio's at the time were concerned with a really quick box office return. They were only thinking how many tickets can we sell in 8 weeks. Not too long after that ELvis's next movie is at the theatre. So, they were only thinking of the short term money.
And they figured, since Elvis has a guaranteed fan base, if they cut the costs, they will make even more money.

They were not thinking that in 15 years these would be for sale on VHS, or 25 years later they would be for sale on DVD.

Sun Aug 12, 2007 9:48 am

The poverty row studios were making money like that for a generation without "wasting" money and time on big time stars. Signing up big time talent usually indicates you want a big time return.

The studios got a big time return in Viva Las Vegas which was the 11th highest grossing film of the entire year. Had their been more like this, the commercial sky was the limit.

I don't have the same gripe against most of the early Wallis films because while there is not an effort to challenge the audience, there is a definite effort to give them a solid product. This is not there in KC.

Sun Aug 12, 2007 4:20 pm

For me it boils down to I never cared about any of that other stuff. All I knew as a 14 yr old in "64 was that KC was Elvis' latest film. I enjoyed it then as I do now. I didn't enjoy VLV or Roustabout which followed any more or less. Honestly, I enjoyed all the '60s movies about equally. With the exception of that "Harum" thing.

Nowadays I'm tired of VLV. Everytime there's an Elvis day It's on. I'm burned out. I don't watch it anymore. It's a very good film, but I'm tired of it.

Yes, I'll buy the new version on DVD. Might as well have it a great quality if I ever want to watch it.

Sun Aug 12, 2007 6:16 pm

What went wrong with KC? "Jungle" Sam Katzman, that's what. He was the king of the quickies.

Sun Aug 12, 2007 7:47 pm

I think you are really exaggerating here. Hal Wallis didn't buy Elvis Presley to be a serious actor, he bought him to be Elvis Presley the image.
The movies were not all that aweful. Most were very entertaining even though they were not serious movies. Just check out other types of films in the same genre from the 60's, and you will truely find films that are just plain boring.
The thing is Elvis had such screen charisma, him being there and singing added to the film. I used to watch these films on the saturday afternoon movie all the time. All these movies made money. People in the 60's flocked to them. They watched them on TV. They bought them on VHS. They are still buying them on DVD. You can't say that about the countless forgettable movies that were made in the 1960's.

I think that says something in itself. HIs movies are still making money.
So there are people that still enjoy them.

Sun Aug 12, 2007 9:30 pm

ekenee wrote:The Elvis movie is its own genre. They had a formula. This was his niche. And he was lucky enough to be given the chance to make thirty some movies. Not many singers get that chance.


It really was a unique phenomenon that isn't likely to be repeated. Just think- Mariah Carey made just one bad film, and it nearly destroyed her entire career!

This is not to say that films like KC or Clambake weren't scraping the bottom of the barrel. In fact, it took me a long time before I could even sit through an Elvis film, simply because I just didn't 'get' them. Then I finally realized that Elvis' movies were as much about a lifestyle as Elvis' own life had been. I think the majority of his films up to about Tickle Me offered decent escapism, whereas Harum Scarum marked the point where everything reversed (and the majority became subpar).

Sun Aug 12, 2007 11:11 pm

James77 I totally agree.
But to take it a step farther, someone must have noticed that something was wrong because a very different type of Elvis film started to come out.
The last 4 or 5 were a step more mature than the rest.

Stayaway joe

The trouble with girls

Charro

Live a little love a little

Change of Habit

are all noticeably different than the earlier films.

And I appreciate them more than the mid 60's ones.

Mon Aug 13, 2007 1:38 am

I don't necessarily disagree with you Ekenee. I actually get upset that people get on fans for not discriminating yet don't discriminate between the Wallis films, early MGM films and later stuff like KC (or 1970 Elvis and 1977 Elvis).

I don't think any Elvis movie bears comparison to the Wood movies because Elvis himself, when he sings, is so competent and confident, that even on bad material you know you're seeing why this is the star of the movie. Still something like PHS is depressing in a way that only a dead big star vehicle can be.

For me, my gauge has always been that an Elvis movie is enjoyable if it seems that Elvis himself was involved or having a good time. I don't put KC in that list.

Mon Aug 13, 2007 2:11 am

Likethebike, I sometimes compare ELvis's films with themselves only because there isn't anthing else to compare them to.

I tend to compare PHS with Blue Hawaii for obvious reasons. PHS loses.

I tend to compare Speedway with Spinout. Speedway loses.

I can't explain it, but perhaps its just nostalgia, but I do like kissin' cousins. I know its light hearted fluff, but it takes me to a different time.

We all have soft spots for many of Elvis' various films. Many people like "harum scarum" while I think its one of his worst. The same goes for "tickle me". But I do seem to like "clambake". Its all so subjective.
I know it makes no sense but we can't help what we like.
Like I wrote in one of my previous posts, some are better than others, but I find something about all of them that I like.

KISSIN' COUSINS

Tue Aug 14, 2007 10:27 pm

I bought the box set of DVDs this week, and skipped through the discs to watch the movies. The colours are great, the widescreen presentations are super.

I really noticed in Kissin' Cousins Elvis obvious distain for the singing material. Watch his expression after singing ONE BOY, TWO LITTLE GIRLS and several others. You can actually see the disgust on his face as he's clearing the straw off of his pants. Now, I feel sorry for Elvis.

Out of 33 movies, if you removed five or six completely (HARUM SCARUM, CLAMBAKE, EASY COME EASY GO, TICKLE ME and a couple others), Elvis had a variety of entertaining films -- especially compared against the time. GONE WITH THE WIND wasn't being made every year by anyone.

And it still baffles me how Elvis' movie songs weren't nominated for awards. Great songs like CAN'T HELP FALLING IN LOVE got nothing! Very old nominators, I guess.

Wed Aug 15, 2007 3:31 am

I'd definitely remove "Harum Scarum." The rest I like in varying degrees.
I sometimes wonder if the things we "see" are what we want to see. Conditioned by 40 years of feedback/hindsight.

Fri Aug 17, 2007 7:00 am

Angela Lansbury is a delight in Blue Hawaii. She's supposed to be annoying; that's why she's funny.

"Trouble" is a good movie, not great but good with the sum of its parts adding up a to a greater whole.

Christopher Brown- The Academy Awards like other show business awards are based upon the votes of members of a said group of performers, writers, technicians etc. They are largely based on the popularity of a given performer within that group. This group is not the entire industry but select dues paying members. In the 1950s and the 1960s the membership in these groups did not have any respect for rock and roll or anything associated with it. What's more, Elvis wasn't exactly a big Hollywood schmoozer, so there was no sentiment out there for him. One of the big jokes about Around the World in 80 Days winning Best Picture was because virtually everyone in the industry had a friend or a relative work on it. Elvis couldn't even win in the musical awards- the Grammys- in those days but then again neither could Smokey Robinson, the Rolling Stones etc.

Sat Sep 22, 2007 5:47 pm

In my corner of the world, Elvis movies drew capasity crowds to the local cinemas up until 1965 and Tickle Me. After that the tide turned! For some odd reason the only time after that an Elvis movie drew some crowd was Speedway with Nancy Sinatra.
Elvis movies had an impact of their own beyond anything else. People for the most part went to see ELVIS!!
No matter what! One has to consider the time these pictures were made.
One cannot look back today and even imagine what it was like, back then. I recall people eagerly discussing scenes were Elvis fought, sang or tried to get the girl. Believe it or not, people were entertained. And that says a lot of what else they had to choose from. I think you need to have been there to really enjoy looking back with the DVD releases we've had this year.
One may like it or not. The Hollywood years actually where a vehicle to promote Elvis for the world. One thing is for sure! We know what we know today of everything Elvis. We don't know nothing about: ..what if...!

Re: Kissin' Cousins - Not really that bad

Sun Feb 01, 2009 11:32 pm

I've now watched this movie for the second time in a week.
What does that say about me?

Yes, it's one of Elvis' most lame motion pictures. But, no. It's not the worst of the lot!
Of the ones I've seen both Easy Come, Easy Go and Double Trouble are worse. And I found both Girls! Girls! Girls! and Blue Hawaii boring when I saw them quite a few years ago.

I love Yvonne Graig and Cynthia Pepper. I love the Tender Feeling scene + song.
Even, Ma Tatum's song is not that bad.
It looks cheap and the ending, with the party, really is stretching the plot to make the movie longer.
During that sequence I wait for Barefoot Ballad to be finished so we can get to the Kissin' Cousins number.
Much could've been improved in this movie (acting, script, direction, cinematography, mise-en-scéne, editing), but for a B picture shot in 17 days it's bearable. I like to watch it now and then.

Elvis himself pretty much goes through the paces during dialogue scenes, but he wakes up, somewhat, during song and dance numbers.

Bottom line is: This movie is for the hardcore fan who can take the good in a movie and try to overlook the bad.

Mr. Even B

Re: Kissin' Cousins - Not really that bad

Tue Feb 17, 2009 6:39 am

It's pretty average, even for an `Elvis' movie.
He deserved better
Rick

Re:

Sat Jun 26, 2010 12:48 am

ekenee wrote:I think you are really exaggerating here. Hal Wallis didn't buy Elvis Presley to be a serious actor, he bought him to be Elvis Presley the image.
The movies were not all that aweful. Most were very entertaining even though they were not serious movies. Just check out other types of films in the same genre from the 60's, and you will truely find films that are just plain boring.
The thing is Elvis had such screen charisma, him being there and singing added to the film. I used to watch these films on the saturday afternoon movie all the time. All these movies made money. People in the 60's flocked to them. They watched them on TV. They bought them on VHS. They are still buying them on DVD. You can't say that about the countless forgettable movies that were made in the 1960's.

I think that says something in itself. HIs movies are still making money.
So there are people that still enjoy them.



Good points. I always thought they couldn't have been that bad for the time period they were in. They were hits in that period and always made money. I think it is as Elvis once said, "An image is one thing, a human being is another." I think when Elvis came out in the 50s, he was "the man," and he got the image of a wild, rebel rocker. I think some critics and observers thought that was all he was ever supposed to be. They thought every song should have been the equal to "Hound Dog" and "Jailhouse Rock," and every movie should have done the same. But I liked the diversity he had and I thought most of his movies were good.

Re: Kissin' Cousins - Not really that bad

Thu Feb 03, 2011 3:13 pm

This is one of those bad movies that is amusingly bad. Which you can't say about some of his other films. I like the song "Smokey Mountain Boy" too.