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WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Fri Jul 08, 2011 8:05 pm

We have finally returned to our “Elvis Nights” with our wives going and doing something else while we watch, listen and talk Elvis amongst other things. My brother, David (who saw Elvis in person10 times with me), our mutual friend Lucio and I have begun a trip through Elvis’ movie catalogue.

On separate pieces of paper, we wrote the title of every Elvis movie and placed them into a hat. We drew out one – and it was “Wild In The Country”. A slight groan was heard. We’ve agreed to skip a film if all three agree – perhaps we’ll watch it at the end, we haven’t decided.

My brother hadn’t probably seen the movie all the way through, and my friend Lucio remembered bits and pieces.

I remember looking at my watch a few times (we’ll see how that goes for other films).

The film was long (one of Elvis’ longest), the songs few (with “Lonely Man” seen only in the accompanying trailer, singing and playing a guitar in the garage he worked at late in the film), and the story “sudsy”.

Elvis delivered some good lines well, but overall, it still felt like I was watching Elvis Presley and not just another actor in a film -- If that makes any sense. If no Elvis (because the songs were not important to the film, and could have been cut), something I would probably never watch again.

The cast was okay. Hope Lange was an actress David and I knew well from the TV series “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir”. Gary Lockwood (to be seen later in “It Happened At The World’s Fair”) had a key role, and Elvis and Red West get to fight.

Our ratings (out of 10, 10 being the highest rating) will be based overall on the film; what we’ll call “rewatchability”, that is, how likely it is to be back in our DVD player; the songs; and we’ll also keep track of Memphis Mafia appearances and fights.

Film – 7 (Good ambitious effort, but sudsy, slow and almost boring.) I wouldn’t have minded the alternate ending that was first shot – and wouldn’t that have been a great bonus to this DVD.

Rewatchability – 3 (I’m 55, maybe I’ll never see this again)

Songs – 3 (I don’t really care for the four songs, although “In My Way” is growing on me)

Red West – 1 fight and counting

Looking forward to our next visit and film!

Our Second Film Night

Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:32 pm

It’s our second Elvis night, and David reaches into the hat, and pulls out “Stay Away Joe”. A mild look of disappointment on our faces must be evident.

Lucio retrieves the DVD – the box-set containing it has never been opened.

I love movies. I probably have over 1,000 films in my collection. Many of them feature notable stars and/or great stories, while some may be regarded as okay or poor. “Stay Away Joe”?? – I still can’t see the point of why adults would write and film such a mess. I know Parker didn’t read scripts, but should have read this one – if in fact there was one?

The good: Great opening track and scenery. Elvis looks great – though the heavy dark make-up is a little much.

Trying hard to find something good:
• I did like grandpa and many of his quips, especially, “sure got a lot of guts lady”.
• It has a vocal outtake of a song I really like – “All I Needed Was The Rain”. I never got the following line in this song, “no doors, or walls or window panes”, for a long time.
• Burgess Meredith (who I’ve always liked) as Elvis’ dad is fun. In a few side shots of Elvis it’s not hard to believe he and Burgess are father and son.

The bad:
• Is there a story?
• Is there a point?
• There’s probably no doubt Elvis enjoyed this – fighting with some of his friends, partying, fighting with some of his friends, partying, fighting with some of his friends, etc.
• It has the song “Dominic”.
• Did I mention it has no story / plot?

Film – 2 (Elvis looks good, and I like two of the songs)

Rewatchability – 0 (I really can’t think why I’d watch this again)

Songs – 4 (I really like “Stay Away” and “All I Needed Was The Rain”)

Elvis’ buddies:

Del “Sonny” West – Large speaking part, several fights (and in credits)
Charlie Hodge – A member of a band playing guitar and harmonica on the porch of the Lightcloud’s home. No speaking part.
Joe Esposito – Small speaking part near end of film as he packs up what’s left of Joe’s vehicle for cash

Looking forward to our next visit and film! It has to be better, although “Easy Come, Easy Go”, “Paradise, Hawaiian Style” and “Charro” are still in the hat.

Re: Our Second Film Night

Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:38 pm

Christopher Brown wrote:Looking forward to our next visit and film! It has to be better, although “Paradise, Hawaiian Style” is still in the hat.



Good luck with that :|

Don't your wives like Elvis then?

Re: Our Second Film Night

Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:04 pm

Christopher Brown wrote:It’s our second Elvis night, and David reaches into the hat, and pulls out “Stay Away Joe”. A mild look of disappointment on our faces must be evident.

My brother and I saw "Stay, Away Joe" when it was released in ’68. The theater was half full when the movie started. It started off promising…listening to “Stay Away”... beautiful scenery and Elvis looking fantastic. But soon after the opening, slowly people started to leave and after Elvis sang Dominic, there were more ushers than people still sitting in the theater. "All I Needed Was This Rain" is one of my favorite Elvis songs. But listening to it and watching Elvis out in a rainstorm with four canine companions, wasn’t easy.

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:24 pm

Just Lucio and I are married -- and I would say our wives "tolerate" Elvis. They would watch a movie from time to time. My wife likes "Charro"!!! (She likes westerns is the only excuse I can think of.)

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:29 pm

I saw many Elvis films at the theatre, and luckily missed this one. I can't imagine a film critic watching this and seeing ANYTHING worthwhile. I really LIKE Elvis, but even this was a difficult film to watch. I just can't imagine what Elvis would have thought watching the completed film.

It doesn't mean I have "uppity" tastes -- I like many of Elvis' lesser films -- "Spinout" / "Tickle Me" and "Kissin' Cousins" -- I just wouldn't show them to friends.

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Thu Jul 28, 2011 3:40 am

It's fun watching these less than stellar films (Stay Away Joe/Wild In The Country) after so many years though I have to admit that time has not made them any better in my eyes. I'm possibly the most tolerant Elvis fan out there that enjoys 99.9% of his recordings/concerts but I agree with Chris that some of these films will never hit my dvd player again. Perhaps the novelty of a bluray may allow me to relive these movies but beyone that, I will probably extract the songs and create my own video music compilation and retire the original discs to that Elvis shelf in my music room.
I agree with Chris's ratings though would probably rate the songs higher just because I think Elvis sounds do great on all of them.
Another movie tomorrow...
Lucio

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:45 pm

Our third night begins with Lucio pulling out the title, “Girl Happy”. A small sigh of relief – almost excitement as we actually look forward to watching an Elvis film!

It’s certainly not the greatest film Elvis made, but compared to the two we’ve watched so far, it would be an improvement simply from an entertainment perspective – after all, Elvis is a singing movie star.

This one benefits from a great cast of players (some big, some little), that often got us smiling as we commented on where we had seen them. Much detail follows for those who may not be familiar with many of the faces in the film.

• Shelley Fabares of course will feature in two other Elvis films (“Spinout” and “Clambake”) and had worked with Jimmy Hawkins (also of “Spinout”) on “The Donna Reed Show”. Jimmy was a frequent guest on one of my guilty pleasures, “Petticoat Junction” and appeared once in the classic “Leave It To Beaver” and one of my favourite movies, “It’s A Wonderful Life” as one of the Bailey children.

• Harold J. Stone appeared in dozens of TV shows, notably “Get Smart” (a great two-part episode as Capt. Gronan – “so, that’s Gronan’s Chinese …” Max says), “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”, “Gilligan’s Island”, “Mannix” and “The Twilight Zone” (an episode called “The Arrival” which by chance I watched the previous weekend with my daughter, Jenny).

• Gary Crosby (son of Bing) had a recurring role in another favourite TV show, “Adam-12”. Kent McCord, one of the stars of this show, was an extra – but I couldn’t spot him.

• It’s interesting to note that Elvis worked with the off-springs of two of the biggest selling recording artists – Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.

• Joby Baker many of us will remember from the “Gidget” movies.

• Mary Ann Mobley (looking better in her other Elvis feature, “Harum Scarum) also played April Dancer in “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” which introduced that character and created one of the first TV spin-offs, “The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.” – although Mary Ann did not play the role in the series.

• Jackie Coogan, we all know as Uncle Fester in “The Addams Family” and John Fiedler played Mr. Peterson on “The Bob Newhart Show” and also appeared on “The Donna Reed Show”.

So, with all that in mind, I enjoyed the film quite a lot – more than I remembered. I liked most of the songs in the movie, but as a total soundtrack, it’s not one of my favourites at all. It has “Do The Clam” which the Colonel I think tried to market as the new dance craze. It was bad.

The story is fun (I’m sure it fit right in with the films of the day) and the motel set where a lot of the filming occurred looked pretty good.

Film – 7 (Quite enjoyable, wasn’t looking at my watch, and the cast was quite familiar to me)

Rewatchability – 8 (For Elvis, the story and the cast)

Songs – 6 (Again, in the context of the film, I didn’t mind them – and that includes “Ft. Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce” and “Wolf Call” – as mainstream recording material for Elvis Presley in 1965, that’s another matter.)

Elvis’ buddies

Red West is listed as an extra in the Kit Kat Club on an internet site, but I couldn’t spot him, but he may have been one of the people Elvis fought with.

With time to spare, we decide another (shorter film) could be possible. “The Trouble With Girls (And How To Get Into It)” is pulled from the hat, and we agree that just based on time (), we couldn’t fit it in (too bad!). Another title was pulled from the hat – “Paradise, Hawaiian Style”.

We start the film, but cannot finish. It will have to wait for another night, but that can’t be until late August due to at least one of us being away on holidays over the next four weeks.

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Sat Jul 30, 2011 11:27 pm

I'd give the songs a 9. Loved 'em when I was a kid and still love them now. It's been about 10 years since I watched Girl Happy and I really enjoyed the experience. The dvd colours and overall sound was excellent, much better than the old VHS tape I had bought in the early 90s. This movie has indeed benefitted from remastering moreso than the Paramount films.
Lucio

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Tue Sep 06, 2011 7:43 pm

Well, we got through PARADISE, HAWAIIAN STYLE, and it was a little better than I remembered. Donna was not as irritating as I remember – but just, and skipping her “solo” was quite easy and unanimous.

Film - 3, not a very good film

Rewatchability – 3, again, a little better than I remembered

Songs – 2, a very poor soundtrack, with few standouts

Memphis Mafia – Red West in a fight

After finishing this, we put in THE TROUBLE WITH GIRLS. Elvis looks great. Elvis walks through a scene. Elvis looks great. Elvis walks through a scene. Elvis looks … On and on. Based on my memory, I would not have rated this so poorly. However, it is unbelievably worse than STAY AWAY, JOE – see that review.

Songs – A number of standout performances – ALMOST, CLEAN UP YOUR OWN BACKYARD, SWING DOWN, SWEET CHARIOT.

One of many bloopers -- while in Hale’s room, Edward Andrews is sitting on the couch while Hale and Miss Union Member go at it verbally. As the camera pans back to him from time to time, one second he’s sitting in the middle of the couch, the very next second he’s sitting on the left side – again and again.

Forget trying to match Elvis’ hairstyle, which changes from various angles in the “same scene” – most notably the CLEAN UP YOUR OWN BACKYARD performance.

Film - Terrible, terrible "movie"

Rewatchability – 0 (other than jumping to the performances mentioned)

Songs - Three very good songs, all towards the end of the film -- the only reason for hanging around

Memphis Mafia – None – unlike Elvis and the Colonel, each of them must have read the script

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Tue Sep 06, 2011 7:48 pm

Luckily, we go from one of the worst of his career to one of his best – and one we all thoroughly enjoyed.

“King Creole” comes out of the hat, and Lucio puts it on.

I love the opening with “Crawfish” (Lucio finds it the worst song other than “Steadfast, Loyal and True”). It really sets the mood in New Orleans.

The supporting cast is top notch – Walter Mathau, Dean Jagger (notably of “White Christmas” fame with Bing Crosby), Vic Morrow (soon to be a star of “Combat”), Carolyn Jones (famous for being Mrs. Addams of “The Addams Family”), and the lovely Dolores Hart who would soon become a nun.

The film we all know. The story is solid, Elvis doesn’t act – he is Danny Fisher. The on-location filming adds tremendously to the story and feel. I visited New Orleans back in 1999, and on some of the streets, it might as well have been 1958.

Our opinions were rather consistent.

The film – a solid 8, edging into 9

Rewatchability – 9, would welcome viewing this again.

The songs – a top notch soundtrack, ‘understanding’ why he had to sing “Steadfast, Loyal and True” in the film ‘helps’, but it never appears on any of my compilation discs. “Trouble” is excellent, and I vividly remember the only time I heard it in person in Huntsville in June 1975.

Memphis Mafia – N/A, pre-1960

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Fri Sep 09, 2011 3:04 pm

Hi Christopher.

I am really enjoying your posting about random Elvis movies!

I have some time to kill on the train to work, so I have started converting my Elvis DVDs to MP4 for my iPod.

My first film 'out of the hat' was Wild in the Country and I certainly enjoyed that more than I thought I would. My next movie will be Flaming Star.

Good luck with your future viewing!

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:21 pm

Thanks. Another follows.

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:23 pm

Another Elvis night. With great expectations, and a little fear, we get ready to pull the next film title out of the hat. I jokingly say I sure hope it’s not “Harum Scarum” and others pipe up with “Charro”. David pulls “Harum Scarum” out of the hat.

Lucio seems okay with the choice, and agreeing to stick to our schedule this run through of his movies, he gets the disc.

Elvis sings three songs in quick succession during the first eight minutes of the film, or so. It’s not a good soundtrack album, but a guilty pleasure for me for several of the tracks.

Most of you know the film. In my opinion, I couldn’t even give it a number. I just called it “horrible”.

I remember seeing this at the Prince of Wales theatre in Toronto (Woodbine and Danforth intersection) when I was 10. I have no memories of whether I liked it or not I probably thought it was okay back then. I was attending many of the Frankie Avalon and Jerry Lewis films, and so my standards were not high.

I also remember in the late 1970s talking a friend of mine into seeing it with me during a Saturday afternoon (kid’s) show. I do remember sinking further and further down in my seat as the film progressed. That was a tough day. Unfortunately, we were at his cottage the weekend “That’s The Way It Is” was run – something I hadn’t seen for a long time.

David is suffering all the way “Harum Scarum” – he doesn’t like period pieces to begin with, but Lucio doesn’t seem to mind at all as he’s enjoying seeing the songs performed.

Film – Horrible!!!

Rewatchability – ZERO!!

Songs – I like several of them, but it’s not good material at all. I really like Elvis’ voice on many of the tracks.

Memphis Mafia – Red West (or, upon seeing him several times in the film, Black West with the tight head gear he wears). Elvis beats him up a few times.

“Love Me Tender”, “Easy Come, Easy Go” and “Charro” still remain in the hat. We agree to skip “Charro” if it’s picked, but I’ll watch it with my wife who likes the film with my review posted without other input. The boys are happy.

We slip in the newest DVD release, “Live Live Live” and it’s great seeing Elvis interviewed after his release from the army – something I’d never seen before, too bad the sound wasn’t better. It helped improve the evening immensely (the pizza was good, too).

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Thu Sep 15, 2011 3:16 am

I think that in general we all are quite surprised ay how the quality of the Elvis films slipped in 1965 when, as one of the highest paid actors, he should have been offered top notch roles. I pretty well enjoy any Elvis film with lots of songs including Harum Scarum though I do tend to rewatch my usual 10 favourites (B Hawaii/Girls Girls Girls/Roustabout, Viva, etc).
It's been quite an experience rewatching some of these old films with Chris and David though it's sometimes more fun watching David cringe through some of the crummy ones like Trouble With Girls.
Let's see what pops out next...
Lucio

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Thu Sep 15, 2011 7:18 am

To each his own, I suppose, but Elvis films with a lot of songs . . . cringeville.

King Creole is one of the real early ones so that's cool; top notch. But if this were girls' night out instead, there would be MUCH more appreciation for the Chatauqua film. He looks literally stunning,the songs are cool {you even hear the local group do The Coo Coo Bird, which is an American roots music classic!}, and Elvis has relaxed fun without making an a$$ of himself. {a la Stay Away, Joe}

Lotsa luck with Charro. He never changes expression. Weird and bad film. LMT strains credulity:he looks like a baby. Silly casting. Dull plot. It's cute how he hugs so sincerely, slamming into the brother character. But really .. . good luck.

And the gals would watch COH and not CARE about the damn plot!

Just a diff perspective.

rjm

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:18 pm

Christopher Brown wrote:Our third night begins with Lucio pulling out the title, “Girl Happy”. A small sigh of relief – almost excitement as we actually look forward to watching an Elvis film...

• Jackie Coogan, we all know as Uncle Fester in “The Addams Family” and John Fiedler played Mr. Peterson on “The Bob Newhart Show” and also appeared on “The Donna Reed Show”.

.


Don't forget Jackie Coogan's greatest role...

phpBB [video]



I think you are rather hard on Stay Away Joe (despite it's racism) for, if nothing else, it was an attempt at something different than the Elvis/girls/songs formula and, in some ways, was part of the road to the 68 comeback. Finally things were changing for Elvis - even if in Stay Away Joe they didn't necessarily find the right vehicle for him, there was at least the feeling that things couldn't go on as they were. I view Trouble With Girls in a similar fashion. From what i remember, there were quite big cuts from the film prior to release, which didn't help the film. BUt the few songs Elvis had were good, he looked like an adonis, and the setting was, again, a welcome change. As films, I prefer them both to Girl Happy, Kissin Cousins etc.

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Mon Sep 19, 2011 7:49 am

I have to agree about St. Away but even if it weren't about Native Americans, it would still be dumb. I could see Elvis being more comfortable, but the Chatauqua film is much better. And he LOOKS even better! They act like grade school kids in "Joe." He's cute and having fun but . . . something went wrong.

It IS better than the really bad films. So that's something.

rjm

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Fri Sep 30, 2011 8:16 pm

It’s been a few weeks, so we have been looking forward to another get together. First out of the hat, FOLLOW THAT DREAM. David and I had recently watched it, so we opted for another selection. SPEEDWAY. Okay, I hadn’t seen it for a while, so we were up for it.

It’s one of the few films with action before the opening credits (one of only a handful I can think of). Great opening number. Solid rocker.

The film has a reasonable story (though some believability needs to be suspended), but at least it has a story unlike several we recently watched. In my opinion, Nancy Sinatra is one of Elvis’ least attractive stars, and her singing is just okay.

I really like many of the supporting players – Bill Bixby (though he mugs a little bit too much for the camera, especially as he’s going out of frame), William Schallert (an actor I’ve really liked since he played Patty Duke’s dad in her show), Burt Mustin (the old man who sings a bit of WHO ARE YOU, remembered most for his appearances as Gus the fireman in LEAVE IT TO BEAVER), Carl Ballentine from McHale’s Navy and Poncie Ponce from HAWAIIAN EYE.

Collectively, none of us are into car races, and so both long pieces could have been shortened – but we always have fast forward the next time. Imagine, 500 times around the same track – must be REALLY exciting to some, perhaps only for the crashes?

Elvis acts very comfortably in the film, very natural and is quite believable.

We all agreed on the ratings

The film – a solid 7, edging into 8

Rewatchability – 8, would welcome viewing this again.

The songs – a nice little soundtrack featuring Elvis in good voice, with standout tracks LET YOURSELF GO, WHO ARE YOU, SPEEDWAY and – for Lucio – YOUR TIME HASN’T COME YET, BABY.

If there was anything I would do to this film is cut HE’S YOUR UNCLE. It’s apparent that Elvis’ films were being created by near seniors – filmmakers from the ‘40s where such a number would probably go over quite well – but not in 1968, let alone 1958.

Memphis Mafia – Richard Davis and Jerry Schilling are sitting in a ‘restaurant car’ while Nancy performs her solo (nice pick, Lucio!); Charlie Hodge strumming a guitar and saying one line, and Joe Esposito as a hotel desk clerk also with one line. He doesn’t punch any of his buddies out this film – and in fact, only swings his fists twice – and once through a door as Nancy leaves the room.

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Tue Oct 04, 2011 7:16 am

John Douglas Eames actually gives Stay Away Joe a decent little write up in his review in The MGM Story. Not a rave but he sort of likes it. I personally like Elvis' performance and the scenery but deplore the script and direction. I read an interview that there was some sort of interference on the script.

Nice series Christopher. I think Speedway is cool too, not least for the presence of all those '60s TV stars which for critic Dave Marsh made it lame. To each his own I guess. I also like the fantasy adolescent life that Steve and Kenny live. It brings me back to when I was young and had those fantasies about growing up where of course you don't really grow up because you don't know what it means, but you're an adult and you have your freedom.

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:21 pm

It’s been a few months, so we have been looking forward to another get together. FOLLOW THAT DREAM, chosen last time, but skipped, is agreeable to all.

We opted for the full screen version (I argued for the widescreen, but lost).

The film is a wonderful, funny, simple story that continues to delight 50 years later. 50 years! I liken it to an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” that often just happens, with the characters and their interactions with everyone moving the episode along – and interestingly enough – perhaps ahead of “Seinfeld” as nothing happens sometimes.

Joanna Moore was Andy’s girlfriend in “The Andy Griffith Show” for a number of episodes, and of course, Howard McNear was Floyd the Barber in most episodes (at least one, though, has another actor playing his part). Howard also appeared in two other films with Elvis – “Blue Hawaii” and “Fun In Acapulco”

Elvis’ dad from “Blue Hawaii” (Roland Winters) plays the judge in the major court scene, Simon Oakland as Nick is understated as the head of the travelling gamblers, Carmine played by Jack Kruschen is perfectly dead-pan in his reactions to Toby’s naïveté often saying, “I really don’t know” (if Toby’s for real or not), and Alan Hewitt is quite unlikeable as Arthur King – a man desperate to get the Kwimpers off of “his” public land, even to the point of lying to do so.

A number of great scenes include Toby’s run-in with the hit men, returning the bomb to Nick’s trailer (“your place done blowed up”), the bank loan dialogue and I do like the “there’s too much pressure” – others won’t, I’m sure.

Besides the kids, the only major actor in the cast still alive is Anne Helm, who was last seen in a 1986 episode of “Amazing Stories” – a rather un-amazing short-lived TV series.

There was general agreement on the ratings.

The film – a solid 9, edging into 10 for me. One thought an 8.

Rewatchability – 9, would welcome viewing this again.

The songs are a mixed bag for me, with highlights being “Angel” and “Follow that Dream”. These two are generally on compilations I would make on cassette (years ago) and CD. Nothing else would make it. Lucio doesn’t care much for “Angel”, favouring “I’m Not the Marrying Kind” and “What a Wonderful Life”. “Sound Advice”, first heard on “Elvis for Everyone” was never a song I liked.

The bonus of a movie trailer (but what DVD movie release DOESN’T have its movie trailer included) is unbelievably heavy with musical excerpts, so if one was expecting lots of music, they’d be disappointed. There can’t be much more than 10 minutes of musical performances.

Memphis Mafia – Red West plays a guard at the bank, and is asked by Elvis’ character to drop his gun when he’s carrying the bank vice-president out of the bank vault area. It’s possible Red is seen again (?), when Toby and Miss Claypoole are together for the first time, and someone (redheaded?) yells from a stopped car that was passing by to Toby doesn’t have “his mind on business.” Anyone know?

One of Elvis’ best, and one where I never think I’m watching Elvis act. In this film, I’m watching Toby Kwimper.

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Wed Jan 18, 2012 8:04 pm

Christopher Brown wrote:It’s been a few months, so we have been looking forward to another get together. FOLLOW THAT DREAM, chosen last time, but skipped, is agreeable to all.

We opted for the full screen version (I argued for the widescreen, but lost).

The film is a wonderful, funny, simple story that continues to delight 50 years later. 50 years! I liken it to an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” that often just happens, with the characters and their interactions with everyone moving the episode along – and interestingly enough – perhaps ahead of “Seinfeld” as nothing happens sometimes.

Joanna Moore was Andy’s girlfriend in “The Andy Griffith Show” for a number of episodes, and of course, Howard McNear was Floyd the Barber in most episodes (at least one, though, has another actor playing his part). Howard also appeared in two other films with Elvis – “Blue Hawaii” and “Fun In Acapulco”

Elvis’ dad from “Blue Hawaii” (Roland Winters) plays the judge in the major court scene, Simon Oakland as Nick is understated as the head of the travelling gamblers, Carmine played by Jack Kruschen is perfectly dead-pan in his reactions to Toby’s naïveté often saying, “I really don’t know” (if Toby’s for real or not), and Alan Hewitt is quite unlikeable as Arthur King – a man desperate to get the Kwimpers off of “his” public land, even to the point of lying to do so.

A number of great scenes include Toby’s run-in with the hit men, returning the bomb to Nick’s trailer (“your place done blowed up”), the bank loan dialogue and I do like the “there’s too much pressure” – others won’t, I’m sure.

Besides the kids, the only major actor in the cast still alive is Anne Helm, who was last seen in a 1986 episode of “Amazing Stories” – a rather un-amazing short-lived TV series.

There was general agreement on the ratings.

The film – a solid 9, edging into 10 for me. One thought an 8.

Rewatchability – 9, would welcome viewing this again.

The songs are a mixed bag for me, with highlights being “Angel” and “Follow that Dream”. These two are generally on compilations I would make on cassette (years ago) and CD. Nothing else would make it. Lucio doesn’t care much for “Angel”, favouring “I’m Not the Marrying Kind” and “What a Wonderful Life”. “Sound Advice”, first heard on “Elvis for Everyone” was never a song I liked.

The bonus of a movie trailer (but what DVD movie release DOESN’T have its movie trailer included) is unbelievably heavy with musical excerpts, so if one was expecting lots of music, they’d be disappointed. There can’t be much more than 10 minutes of musical performances.

Memphis Mafia – Red West plays a guard at the bank, and is asked by Elvis’ character to drop his gun when he’s carrying the bank vice-president out of the bank vault area. It’s possible Red is seen again (?), when Toby and Miss Claypoole are together for the first time, and someone (redheaded?) yells from a stopped car that was passing by to Toby doesn’t have “his mind on business.” Anyone know?

One of Elvis’ best, and one where I never think I’m watching Elvis act. In this film, I’m watching Toby Kwimper.


I agree. Elvis could handle both dramatic and comedy roles given the chance. In King Creole, Elvis gave a very credible dramatic performance and showed he could handle comedy roles in Follow That Dream.

Image

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Wed Jan 18, 2012 8:48 pm

Nice photo. Thanks.

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:14 am

Christopher Brown wrote:It’s been a few months, so we have been looking forward to another get together. FOLLOW THAT DREAM, chosen last time, but skipped, is agreeable to all.

We opted for the full screen version (I argued for the widescreen, but lost).

The film is a wonderful, funny, simple story that continues to delight 50 years later. 50 years! I liken it to an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” that often just happens, with the characters and their interactions with everyone moving the episode along – and interestingly enough – perhaps ahead of “Seinfeld” as nothing happens sometimes.

Joanna Moore was Andy’s girlfriend in “The Andy Griffith Show” for a number of episodes, and of course, Howard McNear was Floyd the Barber in most episodes (at least one, though, has another actor playing his part). Howard also appeared in two other films with Elvis – “Blue Hawaii” and “Fun In Acapulco”

Elvis’ dad from “Blue Hawaii” (Roland Winters) plays the judge in the major court scene, Simon Oakland as Nick is understated as the head of the travelling gamblers, Carmine played by Jack Kruschen is perfectly dead-pan in his reactions to Toby’s naïveté often saying, “I really don’t know” (if Toby’s for real or not), and Alan Hewitt is quite unlikeable as Arthur King – a man desperate to get the Kwimpers off of “his” public land, even to the point of lying to do so.

A number of great scenes include Toby’s run-in with the hit men, returning the bomb to Nick’s trailer (“your place done blowed up”), the bank loan dialogue and I do like the “there’s too much pressure” – others won’t, I’m sure.

Besides the kids, the only major actor in the cast still alive is Anne Helm, who was last seen in a 1986 episode of “Amazing Stories” – a rather un-amazing short-lived TV series.

There was general agreement on the ratings.

The film – a solid 9, edging into 10 for me. One thought an 8.

Rewatchability – 9, would welcome viewing this again.

The songs are a mixed bag for me, with highlights being “Angel” and “Follow that Dream”. These two are generally on compilations I would make on cassette (years ago) and CD. Nothing else would make it. Lucio doesn’t care much for “Angel”, favouring “I’m Not the Marrying Kind” and “What a Wonderful Life”. “Sound Advice”, first heard on “Elvis for Everyone” was never a song I liked.

The bonus of a movie trailer (but what DVD movie release DOESN’T have its movie trailer included) is unbelievably heavy with musical excerpts, so if one was expecting lots of music, they’d be disappointed. There can’t be much more than 10 minutes of musical performances.

Memphis Mafia – Red West plays a guard at the bank, and is asked by Elvis’ character to drop his gun when he’s carrying the bank vice-president out of the bank vault area. It’s possible Red is seen again (?), when Toby and Miss Claypoole are together for the first time, and someone (redheaded?) yells from a stopped car that was passing by to Toby doesn’t have “his mind on business.” Anyone know?

One of Elvis’ best, and one where I never think I’m watching Elvis act. In this film, I’m watching Toby Kwimper.

Nice review. Watched the movie with my family last year, and they all enjoyed it, especially dad. He remembered seeing it in the theater back in '62. NYE I did FTD, Angel and I'm Not the Marryin' Kind on guitar for some friends. People disparage the movie songs, but they've stayed with me, for better or worse. Elvis' movies were always on tv when I was growing up, but FTD has held up over the years. Definately one of his best.

Re: WATCHING ELVIS' FILMS AT RANDOM

Fri Feb 03, 2012 9:26 pm

Tonight – FRANKIE AND JOHNNY comes out of the hat. We’re not excited, but we’re all agreeable to watching it. It’s been a while for Lucio and me since we’ve seen the film and David has probably not seen the whole movie through in one sitting.

The wide-screen version presented here is about as close to full-screen as you can get, with just small black bars at the top and bottom. Nothing during the movie seems to be missing from the edges (i.e., people talking but not seen), and so this presentation seems to mirror the movie theatre experience.

The film starts with a pleasant though average film song, “Come Along”. So, that means there’s only ten songs we see Elvis actually ‘perform’.

The cast is totally “B” grade ‘stars’, with Donna Douglas the most notable cast member for her (then current) role in the highly popular “The Beverly Hillbillies” – but unfortunately, she is just about the weakest acting member of the cast.

Other notables include a favourite of mine, Harry Morgan, well-known for both DRAGNET with Jack Webb, and the long-running series, M*A*S*H; Anthony Eisley, well-known for his recent work in “Hawaiian Eye” with Robert Conrad and who would later appear in six episodes of DRAGNET (in different character roles); both Sue Ane Langdon and Joyce Jameson (somewhat interchangeable in this film) made appearances on numerous TV series throughout the ‘50s and right up to the ‘80s; Robert Strauss (who coincidentally performed with Joyce Jameson in “The Dippy Blonde Affair” episode of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” series) also had a lengthy (small) film career and made numerous episodic TV appearances; and last, but not least, is the gorgeous Nancy Kovack (born barely two months after Elvis) and one of the few reasons to watch this film again (though a little less make-up would have improved things). She is in my opinion one of Elvis’ most attractive co-stars. Lucio can’t believe David and I choose her over Donna – he’s still shaking his head, I’m sure.

In a very small, sitting in the audience, role is Kent McCord – soon to be seen in the long-running series, ADAM-12, and who would also work with Harry Morgan in several episodes of DRAGNET, sometimes in the role he would eventually play in ADAM-12. In another brief scene of a ‘bum’ sitting on a bench on a street is William Benedict, “Whitey” from “The Bowery Boys” film series. George Klein is noted in the extended cast, but we didn’t spot him.

The period piece (helping to prevent it from aging like most ‘60s musicals) must have been written by writers of musicals from the 1940s – Elvis’ people just didn’t get it, thinking musical successes from the ‘40s would continue on this late into the ‘60s.

The musical numbers are typical fare found in older movies from the ‘40s (and perhaps from the time frame of the film). It’s not likely though that “Shout It Out” quite fits. With lyrics intending to be “fun” and “descriptive”, “Petunia, the Gardener’s Daughter” and “Frankie and Johnny” fit in quite well. The former (and several others in the film) however just shouldn’t be on record. (“Chesay” comes to mind.)

There are four tracks I really like, “What Every Woman Lives For”, “Please Don’t Stop Loving Me”, “Beginner’s Luck” (often appearing on CD compilations I make) and “Hard Luck” that remind me, or perhaps better, inspired “All I Needed Was the Rain”? Lucio prefers the up-tempo tracks as usual.

The film – a 6. One thought a 4 (I couldn’t argue). For light, musical fare, I was entertained (some good humour, especially if you don’t mind “drunk” humour), and the Cully and Peg husband and wife team were quite amusing and appeared quite like a long-married couple who do love each other

Rewatchability – 4, if only for (me) Nancy Kovack. If we watch the film again, our hearts wouldn’t be broken, but we might skip to some of the better musical tracks.

Memphis Mafia – Red West is seen at least once sitting in the audience, while Jerry Schilling seems to be following Elvis around – watching him perform and gamble. Joe Esposito may have been spotted, but we’re not sure. George Klein is listed in the extended credits, but we didn’t spot him.