The Presley Travelogues

Few movie stars are more scorned than Elvis Presley; few films have been more ridiculed than Elvis’s musical comedies. Presley biographers and rock music historians have repeatedly dismissed his films as mindless, unrealistic, formulaic, and trite. Some rock music critics have blamed his movies for destroying the rebel Elvis of the 1950s, which was his most musically innovative period. Yet, his films were profitable for the studios and producers that made them, and, 40 years later, his 31 features and two concert documentaries are successes all over again on television, video, and DVD.

            In Memphis this week, the annual celebration of Presley’s life and music – called Elvis Week — is in full swing. Elvis Week originally began in 1978 on the first anniversary of his death when fans trekked to Memphis to informally commemorate his passing. It has since grown into a highly orchestrated and much-touted celebration of all things Elvis. Elvis Presley Enterprises (the Estate) has taken control of Elvis Week to a large degree, and they have come up with a slate of organized events, including showing two of his films on the lawn of Graceland. In addition, the DeHart Group is showcasing five of Elvis’s movies at Memphis’s Malco Theater – where the King himself enjoyed many a flick – on Tuesday, August 12.  

            I have written a couple of books on Elvis Presley, and the publicity about Elvis Week generally prompts friends and acquaintances to ask me about Presley’s life and career, including his films. Depending on whether the curious person is a fan, a detractor, or someone in between, he or she will expect me to defend his films, criticize them, or explain what happened to his movie career. Once at a social gathering, someone whom I had never met before, but who knew I had written about Elvis, felt compelled to greet me with, “Elvis was a really bad actor.” There was no “hello” or “glad to meet you,” just, “Elvis was a really bad actor.” For all the truly bad acting that has graced the silver screen, the fact that Elvis’s movies should generate such loathing is an oddity.  

            Obviously, a divide exists between those who enjoy Elvis’s films and those who criticize them. But, there are other singers or celebrities who made the move to Hollywood movies and their bodies of work are worse, or at least equally as limited. Elvis wasn’t a bad actor, and he wasn’t a great actor, but he was a charismatic personality who could hold his own in front of the camera. And, for many types of Hollywood movies, that is good enough. So, how did he come to be so maligned and why is his film career underestimated?

BLUE HAWAII: THE MODEL FOR THE PRESLEY TRAVELOGUE

            The criticism started with Elvis himself. He had a view of his film career not shared by his manager (the notorious Col. Tom Parker), his agent at the William Morris Agency, and the producers of his films. While Parker and the others wanted financial success by any means necessary, Elvis hoped his stint in musicals would eventually evolve into a dramatic career, along the lines of Frank Sinatra or Bing Crosby. In interviews during the 1950s, he repeatedly told reporters that in his “next” film, he didn’t want to sing at all. But that film never transpired. By the early 1960s, when the enormous box office success of Blue Hawaii determined the path of his Hollywood career, Elvis realized his fate was sealed with the musical comedies that he detested.

            Personally, Elvis did not like integrated musicals, that is, those musicals in which the songs are integrated into the plot so that characters burst into song at any time and in any place. In integrated musicals, the songs are designed to advance the plot, add to the character development, or create the mood of a scene. This type of musical requires a strong suspension of disbelief, and Elvis was one of those viewers who declared them too “unrealistic” for his tastes. Elvis’s tastes ran to meatier fare, and biographers have noted that he counted Dr. Strangelove, Patton, The Godfather, The Man with the Golden Arm, The Wild Bunch, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest among his favorites.

            Three of his first four films – Loving You, Jailhouse Rock, and King Creole – had been backstage musicals, in which Elvis played a character hoping to break into show business. So, when he sang, it was generally on a stage setting – more plausible than breaking out into song in a race car, on a ferris wheel, during a puppet show, or at the beach with a bunch of strangers. They were also musical dramas instead of musical comedies, and more in line with Elvis’s goal of becoming a serious actor. On the other hand, the musical comedies of the 1960s were the type of film he did not like. He disparagingly referred to them as the “Presley Travelogues,” because many of them followed a specific formula in which he played a singing race-car driver, pilot, or boat captain passing through an exotic or scenic vacation spot. But, convinced by the Colonel that his fans wanted to see him in these vehicles, he continued to make them. When he returned to concert performing in 1969, he began to poke fun at his Travelogues in his onstage banter. In effect, he was publicly denouncing his movie career, setting up others to see it or write about in an unflattering way. Once, when asked by a reporter why he stopped making films, he answered flippantly, “I got tired of singing to the guy that I just beat up.”  If Elvis himself ridiculed his film career, it is easy to see where the disrespect started.

ELVIS MAKING "TROUBLE"

            Others, particularly music historians, shared Elvis’s view of his films but for different reasons. Among the first to write seriously about Elvis’s contributions to culture were the rock critics of the 1960s and 1970s. These were writers like Greil Marcus and Dave Marsh, who had cut their teeth on Rolling Stone magazine. In their eyes, Elvis’s decision to abandon his innovative rockabilly sound and rebel image once he returned from the army was a step downhill. Elvis abandoned his rebel rock ‘n’ roll persona for an image as a traditional leading man. It was a more mature image and one that fit his new pop-music sound. Compared to the raw, sensual rockabilly of the 1950s, Elvis’s 1960s pop music was mellow and conventional-sounding. Instead of growling out such bluesy numbers as “Trouble” in King Creole, he now crooned tunes like “Wooden Heart” or winked his way through soft-rock hits like “Rock-a-Hula Baby.” Marsh, Marcus, and others painted the 1960s movies and music as weak, derivative, and the demise of Elvis as a musical influence. Even the definitive biography of Elvis – Peter Guralnik’s excellent two-part bio, Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love – tends toward this view. (Again, Guralnik is a music historian and critic.) Looking at it from the standpoint of musical innovation, their point of view is valid. But looking at it from another perspective offers another interpretation.

            The decision to change Elvis’s image was one more deliberate step away from the controversy surrounding his music and image of the 1950s. Going into the army for two years (1958-1960) had provided an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and re-tool Elvis’s image and musical sound to attract a broader audience – the mainstream audience that the Colonel had been courting all along. Turning Elvis into a conventional leading man of musical comedies successfully accomplished that goal without losing his original core audience. It’s not a fateful step downhill; it’s a calculated career move in a different direction. Because the rock music historians were among the first to write the history of Elvis, his film career was tainted by their prejudices.

            Elvis’s musical comedies of the 1960s are actually better-than-average examples of the teen flicks of that time. Several rock ‘n’ roll and pop performers -from Frankie Avalon to Herman’s Hermits – starred in musicals aimed at youthful audiences and fans of the new musical sounds. Some of these musicals featured pop-flavored songs that sounded more like some studio exec’s idea of what rock music should be. Other musicals included the songs of well-known rock ‘n’ roll bands. Most familiar may be the lovably wacky Beach Party series launched in 1963 featuring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, which capture the pleasure of youthful pastimes and the spirit of surfing music so popular in the early 1960s. Several musical groups associated with the “surfin’ sound” made guest appearances in this series, including the Hondells or Dick Dale, to attract teenagers, while well-known actors from older generations, such as Buster Keaton, Robert Cummings, and Mickey Rooney, were used to appeal to adults. 

DOUBLE TROUBLE: SPIES & DISCOTHEQUES

Elvis’s films emulated what was happening in other teen flicks. The considerable number of beach-related movies that Elvis made, including Blue Hawaii and Clambake, fit with the trend of the time. When spring break in Ft. Lauderdale and other resort areas became a popular subject through Where the Boys Are and Palm Springs Weekend, Elvis starred in his own Ft. Lauderdale adventure titled Girl Happy. When the mod scene in London was all the rage, Elvis made Double Trouble, which featured the swinging discotheques of London and Amsterdam. And, some of the familiar faces that appeared in other teen flicks popped up in Elvis’s movies, including Nancy Sinatra, Shelley Fabares (his favorite costar), and Deborah Walley. The Presley Travelogues followed a trend at the time, and seen in this context, they make sense.

But, Elvis’s vehicles differed slightly because they worked harder to appeal to older audiences, in addition to youthful ones. His films included children as well as characters from older generations, who were often played by movie stars of the Golden Age. Barbara Stanwyck and Leif Erickson add considerable weight to Roustabout, Joan Blondell livens up Stay Away, Joe, and Rudy Vallee, a teen idol from another era, costars in Live a Little, Love a Little. The casting is a good example of the approach to Elvis’s career by his management team: Appeal to the broadest audience while still courting his core group of fans. The production values tend to be higher than most teen flicks; former studio directors such as Norman Taurog were tapped to direct, and their expertise added a polish other teen flicks did not have. I watched Roustabout recently, and the production design and costumes consisted entirely of the primary colors red, blue, and yellow to capture the colorful carny atmosphere that was the milieu of the film. The color scheme organized the action, brightened the mood, and covered up the film’s low-budget origins – definitely the touch of professionals.

ROUSTABOUT: WITH BARBARA STANWYCK AND PRIMARY COLORS

            The songs from Elvis’s 1960s films are not nearly as bad as music critics and historians claim. The romantic ballad “Can’t Help Falling in Love” from Blue Hawaii became his closing tune when he returned to concert performances in the 1970s; “Return to Sender,” cowritten by the great Otis Blackwell, graces Girls, Girls, Girls!; Elvis renders a solid version of Ray Charles’s “What I’d Say” in Viva Las Vegas; the novelty tune “Little Egypt” enlivens Roustabout, “Long-Legged Girl” is the best part of Double Trouble, and the lively “Little Less Conversation” from Live a Little, Love a Little may have been ahead of its time. Over 30 years later, the song was re-mixed and released as a dance-mix hit in Europe. Most of the songs in Elvis’s films are solid tunes that at least serve their purpose in the storyline. Of course, there were plenty of clunkers, including “No Room to Rhumba in a Sports Car” from Fun in Acapulco, “Ito Eats” from Blue Hawaii, “Do the Clam” from Girl Happy, and “Queenie Wahini’s Papaya” from Paradise, Hawaiian Style, among others.

 

During the mid-1960s, the budgets for the Presley Travelogues became smaller, the costars less famous, the scripts more formulaic, and the production values weaker. Musicals such as Kissin’ Cousins, Tickle Me, Stay Away, Joe, and Harum Scarum are dull and downright juvenile, so there’s no denying that many of his films were bad. However, Elvis made 33 films in his lifetime, and despite the tendency to group them all as Presley Travelogues, his Hollywood career also included dramas, documentaries, melodramas, westerns, and one film that qualifies as social satire. (Next week, I will go over this film as the conclusion to my own celebration of Elvis Week.)

            Thus, Elvis’s films are generally discussed through a highly subjective perspective or agenda. Rock music historians blame his movies and pop music for the end of an era; biographers lament that his musical comedies contributed to an overall artistic decline in the 1960s, and Elvis himself was profoundly disillusioned by his film career, lost in the disappointment of what might have been. But, the rockbilly sounds of the 1950s had given way to a new smoother style in the early 1960s, spearheaded by Fabian, Frankie Avalon, and others. While it is sad to learn how disappointed Elvis was in his Hollywood career, there is no guarantee that he would have made it as a serious actor. Several pop singers who tried, including Fabian and Tommy Sands, failed.

            I prefer to appreciate his films as fun, light-hearted entertainment suitable for anyone. I enjoy most of the music, and the 1960s details are often a hoot. (I wish I could have visited the World’s Fair in Seattle as shown in It Happened at the World’s Fair; the booths in the nightclub in Speedway are actually the front ends of cars, like something from Jack Rabbit Slim’s in Pulp Fiction; the psychedelic sounds in Live a Little, Love a Little reveal why that musical sound rapidly disappeared.) So, in spirit, I will be at the Malco in Memphis this week, kicking back and watching Elvis flicks with the fans.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J3tdAuBJ3k]

22 Responses The Presley Travelogues
Posted By Al Lowe : August 11, 2008 11:01 pm

You probably heard this before but when I read your article I was all shook up.
Just kidding.

I actually have mixed feelings about it. You make some valid points but others I just have to disagree with.

I’ll even add a positive point that you missed. At that time in film history there was nothing wrong with travelogue films. We didn’t have cable to bring us wonders from all over the world back then and we were accustomed to movie stars appearing in films about exotic places that were actually filmed on the back lot.

Elvis wanting to be a movie star like Crosby or Sinatra was not realistic. Anyway, he didn’t even try to do it.
Crosby and Sinatra were wonderful singers. Also, Crosby was a good light comedian who often appeared in movies with a great supporting cast of performers. Sinatra could be an exceptional actor but wouldn’t do more than one take, a policy that exasperated the industry. Elvis didn’t have Bing’s comedic skill or Frank’s acting chops.

I agree with you on the musical highlights of the Elvis films.

I think you are stacking your argument when you refer to the Beach Party films. I was around back then and I don’t think most people went to see them, just pre-teens and certain devotees, similar to the loyalists that the Elvis films attracted. Even though his films featured Barbara Stanwyck and Frank McHugh and others from Hollywood’s heyday, I think Elvis’s people missed their goal of broadening his audience.
Part of the problem was that movies was all he did at that time. Correct me if I’m wrong but after the early 60s until 68 he didn’t make TV specials or guest TV appearances or a series.

Yes, people may be influenced by writers who were critical of the movies the King cranked out. But I don’t think you can blame Elvis for creating negativity about his films because he said bad things about them. He was just telling what he thought was the truth and amusing himself and his buddies. Bogart and Tyrone Power and other superstars had fun knocking their own movies but you can’t say they caused undue criticism.

Someone once said to me that Marilyn Monroe’s films weren’t that good. Well, the obvious classics – Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve – featured her in small roles. Some Like It Hot was her best film but she even has a less than dominating part in that.
But, of course, she did make Bus Stop and Seven Year Itch – which are very good films and incredible vehicles for her to display her talent.

Elvis, as big an icon as Marilyn, never had that luck. He never starred or even co-starred in a film remotely that good.

Thanks for listening to me.

I don’t dislike Elvis. Some people who malign his films do. But he is not one of my favorites. I like some of his songs and think they’re great.

I like the musical highlights of the films that you mentioned.

Posted By Al Lowe : August 11, 2008 11:01 pm

You probably heard this before but when I read your article I was all shook up.
Just kidding.

I actually have mixed feelings about it. You make some valid points but others I just have to disagree with.

I’ll even add a positive point that you missed. At that time in film history there was nothing wrong with travelogue films. We didn’t have cable to bring us wonders from all over the world back then and we were accustomed to movie stars appearing in films about exotic places that were actually filmed on the back lot.

Elvis wanting to be a movie star like Crosby or Sinatra was not realistic. Anyway, he didn’t even try to do it.
Crosby and Sinatra were wonderful singers. Also, Crosby was a good light comedian who often appeared in movies with a great supporting cast of performers. Sinatra could be an exceptional actor but wouldn’t do more than one take, a policy that exasperated the industry. Elvis didn’t have Bing’s comedic skill or Frank’s acting chops.

I agree with you on the musical highlights of the Elvis films.

I think you are stacking your argument when you refer to the Beach Party films. I was around back then and I don’t think most people went to see them, just pre-teens and certain devotees, similar to the loyalists that the Elvis films attracted. Even though his films featured Barbara Stanwyck and Frank McHugh and others from Hollywood’s heyday, I think Elvis’s people missed their goal of broadening his audience.
Part of the problem was that movies was all he did at that time. Correct me if I’m wrong but after the early 60s until 68 he didn’t make TV specials or guest TV appearances or a series.

Yes, people may be influenced by writers who were critical of the movies the King cranked out. But I don’t think you can blame Elvis for creating negativity about his films because he said bad things about them. He was just telling what he thought was the truth and amusing himself and his buddies. Bogart and Tyrone Power and other superstars had fun knocking their own movies but you can’t say they caused undue criticism.

Someone once said to me that Marilyn Monroe’s films weren’t that good. Well, the obvious classics – Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve – featured her in small roles. Some Like It Hot was her best film but she even has a less than dominating part in that.
But, of course, she did make Bus Stop and Seven Year Itch – which are very good films and incredible vehicles for her to display her talent.

Elvis, as big an icon as Marilyn, never had that luck. He never starred or even co-starred in a film remotely that good.

Thanks for listening to me.

I don’t dislike Elvis. Some people who malign his films do. But he is not one of my favorites. I like some of his songs and think they’re great.

I like the musical highlights of the films that you mentioned.

Posted By Suzi Doll : August 12, 2008 4:41 pm

Al, thanks for your thoughtful post. I hope you will come back next week when I write about one of my favorite Elvis’s films to round out my contribution to Elvis Week.

Posted By Suzi Doll : August 12, 2008 4:41 pm

Al, thanks for your thoughtful post. I hope you will come back next week when I write about one of my favorite Elvis’s films to round out my contribution to Elvis Week.

Posted By Rick : August 12, 2008 7:34 pm

I enjoyed your article on Elvis and look forward to your next posting.

I mostly agree with what you have written, and although Al does make a few points, I believe that he misses some of what you are saying.

Growing up a teenager in the ’50′s, Elvis was not, at first, one of my favorites. But over time, I have learned to appreciate his musical talent. I believe that his move, musically, from basic rock, was the right thing to do. It certainly enlarged his fan base, as even today little kids know Elvis. He certainly proved himself to be an “entertainer”. As far as his acting, you are exactly right, he had a screen persona that shone, even when the movie was really dumb. But unlike Bing and Frank, he was never really given the chance to do more. “Flaming Star” was slightly above a mediocre western, but I have always thought his performance did show promise as the half-breed son and brother. But then there was very little Elvis singing.

I have always felt that after he returned to doing concerts, he might try again, on his own terms to make movies. But the last few movies he made were so run of the mill, that I believe Hollywood turned their back on him.

Posted By Rick : August 12, 2008 7:34 pm

I enjoyed your article on Elvis and look forward to your next posting.

I mostly agree with what you have written, and although Al does make a few points, I believe that he misses some of what you are saying.

Growing up a teenager in the ’50′s, Elvis was not, at first, one of my favorites. But over time, I have learned to appreciate his musical talent. I believe that his move, musically, from basic rock, was the right thing to do. It certainly enlarged his fan base, as even today little kids know Elvis. He certainly proved himself to be an “entertainer”. As far as his acting, you are exactly right, he had a screen persona that shone, even when the movie was really dumb. But unlike Bing and Frank, he was never really given the chance to do more. “Flaming Star” was slightly above a mediocre western, but I have always thought his performance did show promise as the half-breed son and brother. But then there was very little Elvis singing.

I have always felt that after he returned to doing concerts, he might try again, on his own terms to make movies. But the last few movies he made were so run of the mill, that I believe Hollywood turned their back on him.

Posted By Medusa : August 13, 2008 9:26 am

Suzi, can’t wait to read your next Elvis post! Back in my TV programming days, we used to get incredible response from our many Elvis-themed special events and festivals, including the live unveiling of his stamp (I believe it was) at Graceland. It wasn’t exactly a ratings thing, but it was always such a love-in from the viewers and it made everybody feel good (at least in the Programming Dept.) saluting him as often as we could. I always thought his pure comedic talents were under-used.

One of the summer residents of my area up here in Canada dated Elvis once and has a great picture of the two of them together; it’s a story she’s prevailed upon to tell often. Can’t beat that as a memory!

Great read, Suzi!

Posted By Medusa : August 13, 2008 9:26 am

Suzi, can’t wait to read your next Elvis post! Back in my TV programming days, we used to get incredible response from our many Elvis-themed special events and festivals, including the live unveiling of his stamp (I believe it was) at Graceland. It wasn’t exactly a ratings thing, but it was always such a love-in from the viewers and it made everybody feel good (at least in the Programming Dept.) saluting him as often as we could. I always thought his pure comedic talents were under-used.

One of the summer residents of my area up here in Canada dated Elvis once and has a great picture of the two of them together; it’s a story she’s prevailed upon to tell often. Can’t beat that as a memory!

Great read, Suzi!

Posted By debbe : August 13, 2008 10:55 am

I think no matter what people think, Elvis definitely lead the way for having pop stars create another vehicle for themselves. While I don’t think you can blame Elvis for Justin Timberlake’s turn in “The Love Guru”… I think the fact that Elvis made himself a character in every movie contributed a lot to our desire for more popular culture. It wasn’t necessary for him to be like Sinatra-who was pretty plausible in some films.. but Elvis was always ELvis in his films and we bought tickets to see Elvis, not to see Elvis be someone else… I thought this article this week was great- very thougthful, and raises a lot of questions about the biggest star being the biggest pop star and vice versa… also when you think about it, maybe they werent th egreatest of movies but nobody since has been able to do what he did… can you imagine 33 Mariah Carey or Britney Speas movies? I think not…

Posted By debbe : August 13, 2008 10:55 am

I think no matter what people think, Elvis definitely lead the way for having pop stars create another vehicle for themselves. While I don’t think you can blame Elvis for Justin Timberlake’s turn in “The Love Guru”… I think the fact that Elvis made himself a character in every movie contributed a lot to our desire for more popular culture. It wasn’t necessary for him to be like Sinatra-who was pretty plausible in some films.. but Elvis was always ELvis in his films and we bought tickets to see Elvis, not to see Elvis be someone else… I thought this article this week was great- very thougthful, and raises a lot of questions about the biggest star being the biggest pop star and vice versa… also when you think about it, maybe they werent th egreatest of movies but nobody since has been able to do what he did… can you imagine 33 Mariah Carey or Britney Speas movies? I think not…

Posted By Robert Owen : October 28, 2008 5:54 pm

In many of Elvis’ movies, he uttered the line, “I like to make my own decisions!” Obviously, the character(s) he played in movies were not very much like the man himself. He was, in his day, the most famous star in the world. I always felt that the most famous star in the world should therefore, be one of the most powerful people in Hollywood. But he let his manager, Col. Tom Parker, run his professional life to the detriment of his career. He let his agent make decisions for him that we all regret. He didn’t, for whatever reason, make his own decisions.

I know, Elvis himself once said, “It’s hard to live up to an image.”

It would have been great if he could have made, perhaps, one musical a year. One with high production values with great songs. Alternate this with a comedy, or a serious drama, or action movie. I believe he would have been a good actor. One that would have gotten better as time went on.

I’ve been an Elvis fan since 1956 when I was 16 years old. I’ve never wavered in my love for the star and his music. But by the mid ’60s, even I was wavering a little after Kissin’ Cousins and Paradise Hawaiian Style and Frankie and Johnny.

I’ve heard and read often, that his movie songs were considered schlock. That may be, but so, too, was a lot of music from the “60s. When I think of the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” and “Octopuses Garden”, among other British groups’ schlock, I still prefer Elvis’ worst over that stuff.

By the way, I think “There’s No Room To Rhumba In A Sports Car” was in the movie Blue Hawaii, not Fun in Acapulco.

bOb

Posted By Robert Owen : October 28, 2008 5:54 pm

In many of Elvis’ movies, he uttered the line, “I like to make my own decisions!” Obviously, the character(s) he played in movies were not very much like the man himself. He was, in his day, the most famous star in the world. I always felt that the most famous star in the world should therefore, be one of the most powerful people in Hollywood. But he let his manager, Col. Tom Parker, run his professional life to the detriment of his career. He let his agent make decisions for him that we all regret. He didn’t, for whatever reason, make his own decisions.

I know, Elvis himself once said, “It’s hard to live up to an image.”

It would have been great if he could have made, perhaps, one musical a year. One with high production values with great songs. Alternate this with a comedy, or a serious drama, or action movie. I believe he would have been a good actor. One that would have gotten better as time went on.

I’ve been an Elvis fan since 1956 when I was 16 years old. I’ve never wavered in my love for the star and his music. But by the mid ’60s, even I was wavering a little after Kissin’ Cousins and Paradise Hawaiian Style and Frankie and Johnny.

I’ve heard and read often, that his movie songs were considered schlock. That may be, but so, too, was a lot of music from the “60s. When I think of the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” and “Octopuses Garden”, among other British groups’ schlock, I still prefer Elvis’ worst over that stuff.

By the way, I think “There’s No Room To Rhumba In A Sports Car” was in the movie Blue Hawaii, not Fun in Acapulco.

bOb

Posted By Robert Owen : October 29, 2008 8:56 am

Oops! My bad. :) My remark about “No Room To Rhumba In A Sports Car” IS from Fun In Acapulco. I apologize for my error.
I was confused with the scene in Blue Hawaii where he is riding in a car driven by Joan Blackman and he sings “Almost Always True”.
It has been a long time since I saw these movies.
I think I saw them listed in TCM’s January listing.

Posted By Robert Owen : October 29, 2008 8:56 am

Oops! My bad. :) My remark about “No Room To Rhumba In A Sports Car” IS from Fun In Acapulco. I apologize for my error.
I was confused with the scene in Blue Hawaii where he is riding in a car driven by Joan Blackman and he sings “Almost Always True”.
It has been a long time since I saw these movies.
I think I saw them listed in TCM’s January listing.

Posted By Fran : January 11, 2009 3:20 pm

I recently saw the movie “Trouble with Girls”, no idea where that title came from. It should have been “Trouble with this Movie”. It was disjointed, confusing, silly and characters being developed only to disappear into the background without explanation. It was choppy and seemed spliced together from a bunch of stills or something. None of this was the fault of Elvis or his acting. He seems to have been thrown in on occassion just for eye candy. If they gave out academy awards for looking like a Greek God in a movie, Elvis would have walked away with 31 of those.

Posted By Fran : January 11, 2009 3:20 pm

I recently saw the movie “Trouble with Girls”, no idea where that title came from. It should have been “Trouble with this Movie”. It was disjointed, confusing, silly and characters being developed only to disappear into the background without explanation. It was choppy and seemed spliced together from a bunch of stills or something. None of this was the fault of Elvis or his acting. He seems to have been thrown in on occassion just for eye candy. If they gave out academy awards for looking like a Greek God in a movie, Elvis would have walked away with 31 of those.

Posted By Carrie : March 19, 2009 9:51 am

Does anyone know what movie Elvis made with a Barris Kustom Car. The grill has what looks like teeth that is all I can remember. Any info would be great Thanks!

Posted By Carrie : March 19, 2009 9:51 am

Does anyone know what movie Elvis made with a Barris Kustom Car. The grill has what looks like teeth that is all I can remember. Any info would be great Thanks!

Posted By Suzi Doll : March 19, 2009 11:33 am

Hi Carrie:

I am not sure if either of these are the cars you are thinking of, but Barris did at least three vehicle related to Elvis. And, I don’t think any of them appeared in the movies. I can’t be 100% sure, but I don’t think so. Perhaps you saw publicity shots of Elvis with the car and assumed they were from a film; or, perhaps the car you are thinking of was not customized by Barris. Anyway, the three vehicles included a 1960 Fleetwood Limo that was tricked out with all sorts of gadgets, including a bar and a phone. I think it had a special shimmering finish. The car was more the Colonel’s idea than Elvis’s. The Colonel saw it as a publicity gimmick, but Elvis didn’t care to drive the car. Apparently it was quite cumbersome. I don’t think he even housed it at Graceland. Eventually, no one was paying any attention to it, so the Colonel sold it to RCA, who took it on tour to promote Elvis’s records. It is now in the COuntry Music Hall of Fame in Nashville if you want to see it.

Barris also customized a 1959 tour bus for Elvis because the singer disliked flying in those days. Finally, Barris tricked out a 1965 Cadillac and called it Elvis’s Dream Cadillac. It was painted with a zillion coats of gold paint. Supposedly Barris and Elvis “designed” it. While there might have been some interaction between Barris and Elvis about this, I think the Barris organization have exaggerated Elvis’s participation in order to hype the car. I have literally read over 100 books on Elvis, and I have written several, and this latter car doesn’t even rate a blip on the radar.

Posted By Suzi Doll : March 19, 2009 11:33 am

Hi Carrie:

I am not sure if either of these are the cars you are thinking of, but Barris did at least three vehicle related to Elvis. And, I don’t think any of them appeared in the movies. I can’t be 100% sure, but I don’t think so. Perhaps you saw publicity shots of Elvis with the car and assumed they were from a film; or, perhaps the car you are thinking of was not customized by Barris. Anyway, the three vehicles included a 1960 Fleetwood Limo that was tricked out with all sorts of gadgets, including a bar and a phone. I think it had a special shimmering finish. The car was more the Colonel’s idea than Elvis’s. The Colonel saw it as a publicity gimmick, but Elvis didn’t care to drive the car. Apparently it was quite cumbersome. I don’t think he even housed it at Graceland. Eventually, no one was paying any attention to it, so the Colonel sold it to RCA, who took it on tour to promote Elvis’s records. It is now in the COuntry Music Hall of Fame in Nashville if you want to see it.

Barris also customized a 1959 tour bus for Elvis because the singer disliked flying in those days. Finally, Barris tricked out a 1965 Cadillac and called it Elvis’s Dream Cadillac. It was painted with a zillion coats of gold paint. Supposedly Barris and Elvis “designed” it. While there might have been some interaction between Barris and Elvis about this, I think the Barris organization have exaggerated Elvis’s participation in order to hype the car. I have literally read over 100 books on Elvis, and I have written several, and this latter car doesn’t even rate a blip on the radar.

Posted By Carrie : March 19, 2009 4:57 pm

Thanks so much for the info.
My brother just told me that he thinks it is a barracuda and Elvis drove it in a movie. lol We are just trying to figure out which movie this car is from.
There is some debate here.
He said the grille looks like teeth, the front of the car looks like a face, and that the movie has something to do with Tequila and he swears that he found it online but can’t remember where.
I have searched and searched and I have not found it.
Now he said the Custom guy might be a Ray Bazeezee(Not sure on the spelling) or something like that. And that only 3 of these cars were made.
This will drive me crazy now until I find it. lol I will be watching all of the Elvis films for the next few weeks.

Posted By Carrie : March 19, 2009 4:57 pm

Thanks so much for the info.
My brother just told me that he thinks it is a barracuda and Elvis drove it in a movie. lol We are just trying to figure out which movie this car is from.
There is some debate here.
He said the grille looks like teeth, the front of the car looks like a face, and that the movie has something to do with Tequila and he swears that he found it online but can’t remember where.
I have searched and searched and I have not found it.
Now he said the Custom guy might be a Ray Bazeezee(Not sure on the spelling) or something like that. And that only 3 of these cars were made.
This will drive me crazy now until I find it. lol I will be watching all of the Elvis films for the next few weeks.

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