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Easy Come Easy Go- the movie

Thu Oct 11, 2007 9:09 am

“Done without care or interest: superficial.” That’s how my home dictionary defines the word “perfunctory” a word I feel that sums up Elvis’ last film with Producer Hal Wallis “Easy Come Easy Go”. Elvis’ relationship with Parker had helped introduce Elvis to films and had many highs including the critical kudos granted to “King Creole” and a couple cross-merchandising monster hit movies (“Blue Hawaii”, “Loving You”, “GI Blues”) that made a ton of money for everyone involved. By 1966 and 1967, when this movie was made and released, the relationship had run out of steam. Spurred by changing times and a 1964 interview done by Wallis that damned the films the pair had done with faint praise, neither side was particularly interested in working with one another any more. There was still, however, a contract to fill. Rather than attempting a buyout, Elvis and Wallis (and Colonel Parker) attempted to go back to the well one more time and came up with this.

“Easy Come Easy Come Go” wasn’t saddled with the kind of hardships- short shooting schedule, shoe string budget- that murdered other Elvis dogs like “Kissin’ Cousins” and “Harum Scarum” but it was burdened by laziness. That laziness was most evident in the cliché’ filled screenplay by Anthony Lawrence and Allan Weiss. Their story deals with a navy frogman and former night club owner Ted Jackson (Elvis). While on duty a few days before leaving the navy, Ted spots a shipwreck on the ocean floor containing a chest filled with what could be gold. Elvis enlists the aid of his old night club partner Judd (Pat Harrington) to pursue the treasure. He directs her to Jo Symington (Dodie Marshall) a free spirit dancer whom lives in an inherited house that is also home to a Hollywoodized hippie commune. Jo’s grandfather owned the ship that Ted saw in the ocean. She confirms that the chest aboard contains valuable Spanish pieces of eight.

At first, Jo resists Ted’s attempts to involve her in the project. After some (surprisingly easy) persuasion from Judd though Jo is aboard to help as the money will help finance an art center for her hippie friends. Using the aid of a former children’s show sea captain (Frank McHugh) Ted, Judd and Jo find the treasure. Before they find it though they have to withstand competition from a slumming heiress (Pat Priest) and her poor boy boyfriend (Skip Ward) who are also interested in finding it. Everything turns out for naught though as the coins in the chest are copper and only worth a few thousand dollars. Nobody minds too much though as the money collected is enough for a down payment on art center. Elvis goes back to work with his buddy, mates with Marshall, and sings his way to a “big” finale.

The laziness of Lawrence and Weiss’ screenplay isn’t so much in the stock situation (although it’s not exactly high concept) but in their handling of the details. For instance, after finding the treasure Elvis claims to have no beef with Ward and Priest even though Ward tried to KILL him seconds before. I don’t know about you but if someone tries to murder me, I’m going to be pretty upset. Then at the end, it’s supposed to be a great triumph when Elvis and co come up with a down payment for the arts center. Nobody bothers to ask where the rest of money is going to come from. After all neither Ted, Judd or Jo have any money.

You don’t have to wait until the end though to see the careless quality that permeates the script. Early on when Elvis meets McHugh, McHugh tells him he’s never been in the water in his life. Yet Elvis shocked to hear it when they meet again the next day.

Many fans have pointed out that this film is unusual in not featuring any slow ballads. A prime reason for that is the fact that there are no romantic character building scenes between Elvis and Marshall. Elvis expresses some interest at the beginning and Marshall indicates it’s returned but their personality conflict is resolved off screen. At the end, Marshall and Elvis simply decide they love each other despite not sharing any intimate moments. (A situation exacerbated by Elvis’ lack of chemistry with his co-star.)

In addition to those lapses, there’s dialogue scooped from other Elvis movies, scenes without dialogue that need dialogue and other flubs. The placement of Elvis’ songs is arguably the weakest of any Elvis movie and it was awkward many times before. ‘The Love Machine” seems particularly arbitrary. It’s not a well-written movie.

It’s not a well directed movie either despite the fact that director John Rich had considerable talent. Rich was one of the great directors in television history manning the pivotal episodes of classics like “The Dick Van Dyke Show” (cast members point to him as the show’s heart) and “All in the Family”. Film was not his medium though and by this time his career as a big screen director was winding down. “Easy Come, Easy Go” was just another assignment to him.

Outside of some interesting angles and cuts when Elvis sings “You Gotta Stop”, his direction is drab and thoughtless. In the critical opening, we see Elvis from a mile away getting off a navy ship. Elvis then sings the opening song to his buddies sitting in a small boat, in a process shot, snapping his fingers and faking guitar on an oar. It’s hard to imagine a less arresting opening scene.

A scene about midway through the film with Pat Priest captures the laziness of Rich’s direction best. Elvis and Priest have just met in a nightclub and reintroduced themselves after an earlier meeting. After going through their plot forwarding dialogue, this sexually attracted couple folds their hands and stops talking. Anyone who’s ever been in a night club knows this is the kiss of death for this type of relationship. It’s not really an awkward pause because Elvis and Priest are really waiting for Ward to find them, get jealous and threaten Elvis. The sloppiness of the Elvis/Priest interaction and the unnecessary break in the action kill any tension that might have been building. It also underlines the artificiality of the situation.

The production values of the film also underline the sloppy lack of interest. Whereas once Wallis’ crews captured stunning visions of the Hawaiian Islands and Mexico and the gritty feel of Bourbon Street, we’re not even sure where “Easy Come Easy Go” takes place. I’m assuming Los Angeles but all we get is some ocean shots and a pier.

Elvis and the cast hold up their end of the bargain a little better. Despite having to sing some of the weakest songs in an Elvis movie, Elvis seems to be at least trying. At times, his attention wanders and his readings fall flat. But he does seem to try express a little something with his face and voice. His singing is its usual competent and supremely confident self but his lyp synching is poor. On the other hand though, he seems to genuinely like Harrington and they have a nice chemistry.

When Elvis climaxes the film by singing “I’ll Take Love”, the soundtrack’s least objectionable song, it’s kind of fun and has an improvisational feel. Part of that is in Elvis’ playful rapport with Harrington best exemplified by the moment when Harrington does a quick Groucho Marx impression and Elvis mockingly beats him across the stage with a maraca. (Elvis’ looks fabulous here by the way, whip-thin and dressed in sharp black sports coat over a purple turtleneck.) Just as good is when Elvis hands his tambourine to a shapely blonde who seems to share a genuine shapely blonde, in this scene and they seem to share a genuine sexual chemistry while they dance. (Well she dances- very aggressively- and Elvis checks her out.)

Veterans McHugh, a former James Cagney cinematic sidekick, and Elsa Lanchester provide some fun along the way as well. Eventually McHugh grows a little mawkish, but Lanchester makes the most of her few moments on screen. When she chastises Elvis for not turning his left-shoulder, her delivery makes the command genuinely funny. Eventually, even her welcome runs out as she is forced to mug her way through one of Elvis’ all time worst musical numbers “Yoga is as Yoga Does.”

The real pull of watching “Easy Come Easy Go” today though is the mirror that it offers into the late 1960s which from today’s perspective was a period of transition. This is most evident in the script’s attempt to address the then nascent counter culture. Elvis’ character, like presumably the screenwriters and many in the audience, are mystified by the new culture. Young people who watch the movie today might be surprised to find out that something as mainstream as yoga (an legitimate Elvis interest by the way) was once considered an esoteric eccentricity shared by some (in the film’s opinion) kooks. Some other aspects like happenings have passed into history, while others like free form modern art are still being debated. This conflict is made even more fascinating because Elvis, a 50s icon who did more than anyone to help enable this kind of free form of expression, is at the heart of the conflict.

There’s also the fun/nostalgia aspect including seeing Priest, best known as the second Marilyn Munster, a hot rod that looks suspiciously like Grandpa Munster’s “Dragula” and Elvis’ backing band that seemed to make a living playing backing musicians in ‘60s movies and sitcoms. In some respects, “Easy Come Easy Go” (like “Speedway) plays like a longer lesser sitcom episode of the period featuring a guest appearance by Elvis Presley.

While the type of entertainment offered by “Easy Come, Easy Go” still had a few years left on the small screen, its days on the big screen were already gone by 1967. Reportedly, this turned out to be the only Presley movie that didn’t recover its production costs upon US release. But no one really cared. Everyone was just anxious to get this over with.

However, like every other film starring one Elvis Aron Presley, the film maintains a certain curiosity because of its endlessly fascinating, charismatic, and talented star. That it was released in the DVD format in 2002 and re-released this year was inevitable. Half baked Elvis is better than none. The makers of the DVD went to a little more trouble slapping the DVD together than the movie’s original makers but not much. There is an absolute beautiful crisp picture that captures all the colors and shapes (including that sharp outfit Elvis wears in the finale) with very acceptable sound but there are not even the minimum extra features that accompany even a bare bones release these days. That means no theatrical trailer and a third rate scene selection menu with only 14 chapters for a 94- minute movie. There are no scene selections for individual songs. Granted you’re not missing much here, but in a musical it would be nice to access the songs.

Still, who knew the tepid last outing between a legendary singer and a legendary producer, that both of them wanted to forget, would last this long? I guess memories of “Easy Come Easy Go” will last as long as memories of Elvis if only as an example of how a lack of passion and purpose can derail genius and talent.

Re: Easy Come Easy Go- the movie

Thu Oct 11, 2007 10:44 pm

likethebike wrote:There’s also the fun/nostalgia aspect including seeing Priest, best known as the second Marilyn Munster,


Interesting review Bike, but the sentence above should read, "There's also the thrill of seeing Pat Priest in a bikini!" :)

Re: Easy Come Easy Go- the movie

Tue Oct 16, 2007 3:48 pm

Pete Dube wrote:
likethebike wrote:There’s also the fun/nostalgia aspect including seeing Priest, best known as the second Marilyn Munster,


Interesting review Bike, but the sentence above should read, "There's also the thrill of seeing Pat Priest in a bikini!" :)


Which is considerably more pleasing than seeing Elvis perform songs he clearly hated :)

Tue Oct 16, 2007 4:14 pm

There are a few Elvis movies that I can safely say I'll never watch again. Not because I'm running out of time (that I know of), but because I'm not going to put myself through that again. For the most part, I try to accept his films for what they are. However, knowing how Elvis felt about them makes them even more difficult to endure.

"Easy Come, Easy Go" is definitely included in my "not to watch" list. Watching Elvis sing "Yoga Is As Yoga Does" makes me remotely understand why someone would want to sit in the garage with their car running. To me, it is absolutely the worst moment in any of his films. I'll take "Old MacDonald" and the playground scene in "Clambake" before I can sit through the Elvis and Elsa Lanchester duet again.

It is more than this Elvis fan can take.
Last edited by Rob on Tue Oct 16, 2007 5:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Tue Oct 16, 2007 4:19 pm

Rob wrote:..."Easy Come, Easy Go" is definitely included in my "not to watch" list.
Watching Elvis sing "Yoga Is As Yoga Does" makes me remotely understand why someone would want to sit in the garage with their car running.
To me, it is absolutely the worst moment in any of his films.
I'll take "Old MacDonald" and the playground scene in "Clambake" before I can sit through the Elvis and Elsa Lanchester duet again.
It is more than this Elvis fan can take.


Come on, Rob, if you didn't like it, just come out & say so !

Strangely, I find the Elsa Lanchester scene has some charm !

It's more entertaining than listening to the Yoga song on CD !

Re: Easy Come Easy Go- the movie

Sat Jan 12, 2008 11:43 pm

In some respects, “Easy Come Easy Go” (like “Speedway) plays like a longer lesser sitcom episode of the period featuring a guest appearance by Elvis Presley.

That is SO true and well stated.

I love the fact that LTB put so much energy into reviewing Easy Come Easy Go. More I am sure than a lot of the movie's actors!

I only recently got this on DVD as a present and revisiting it was not much fun.
(At least I got an Elvis present that I didn't already have!)

and to believe that I felt I had to buy the FTD soundtrack release. I wonder if LTB did?!

Cheers
Piers

Re: Easy Come Easy Go- the movie

Sun Jan 13, 2008 1:52 am

PiersEIN wrote:I love the fact that LTB put so much energy into reviewing Easy Come Easy Go.
More I am sure than a lot of the movie's actors!


Oh, LTB spent more time on writing that review than they did on the script for this film !

Re: Easy Come Easy Go- the movie

Sun Jan 13, 2008 6:58 am

Bike, thanks for taking time for to review this movie, and to give us a writeup as well!

Re: Easy Come Easy Go- the movie

Mon Jan 14, 2008 3:45 pm

What really bugs me about "Easy Come, Easy Go" is that they took the swinging chick that Dodie Marshall seemed to be in her "Spinout" scenes and turned her into a virginal bore in "Easy Come, Easy Go."

Re: Easy Come Easy Go- the movie

Sun May 11, 2008 7:17 am

Maybe it's a matter of taste, but I don't think that the movie is that bad. The script won't win an oscar and Elvis' acting won't do so either, but still the movie isn't too boring and the songs could have been worse.

Compared to other Elvis films Easy Come, Easy Go is quite good and I would rate it much higher than movies like Stay Away, Joe or Charro. The music is pure routine, but still nice enough. It is certainly not the best of Elvis' films and has certainly not the best soundtrack, but to me Easy Come, Easy Go is still acceptable.

Re: Easy Come Easy Go- the movie

Sun May 11, 2008 3:35 pm

The Welz wrote:Compared to other Elvis films Easy Come, Easy Go is quite good...


Like all the many lame things that Elvis did, there is some good to be found in it, if you look hard enough.

There was some humour, like in the yoga class, and the sending up of the 'hippy art' movement.

The music was all upbeat, no tender love ballads.

And Elvis wasn't required to beat a guy up, and then sing to him [as far as I can remember, anyways].

Not another King Creole, but not another Harum Scarum, either !

[But not far off - The Management]

Re: Easy Come Easy Go- the movie

Mon May 12, 2008 9:48 am

ColinB wrote:
The Welz wrote:Compared to other Elvis films Easy Come, Easy Go is quite good...


Like all the many lame things that Elvis did, there is some good to be found in it, if you look hard enough.

There was some humour, like in the yoga class, and the sending up of the 'hippy art' movement.

The music was all upbeat, no tender love ballads.

And Elvis wasn't required to beat a guy up, and then sing to him [as far as I can remember, anyways].

Not another King Creole, but not another Harum Scarum, either !

[But not far off - The Management]


AMEN!