I Saw A Film!
I’m told that at the height of his movie-making career Elvis was making about six films a year! And while they’re not particularly involved things (largely insipid, formulaic and not requiring much in the way of production value), that had to have been a numbing experience. No wonder he worried if he still had the ability to be a compelling musical performer when he finally went back to it.
My dad–no fan of pop music–once said that Elvis’s influence and stardom could not be overstated. He was on everyone’s radar, haters and lovers alike. Not bad for a truck driver from the sticks. Is it any wonder the wildness of his fame eventually overwhelmed him. But before we start talking about all the police badges he loved collecting and the garbage bag of pills he lived on, let’s just slip back to 1962 and revel in one of the more ridiculous offerings of his film career.
In a nutshell Elvis is a fishing guide on a small charter helping codgers reel in the big ones while evading the come-ons of their bored wives (what wife goes on a fishing charter with the hubby?). Some girls drift by on a sailboat waving and titillating. Ahoy! Another boat while he’s singing the titular song loaded with bikini babes waves. Yes yes, we’re expecting some girls!
Elvis is an orphan (very convenient) who is broke but has a dream of owning the sailboat currently owned by his friendly boss and wife, but they’re selling all and moving to Arizona (health reasons) and then his boss is a more business oriented fellow (interesting how this is a foul thing in many old films) by the name of Mr. Johnson, played by One Life to Live and Cowboy regular Jeremy Slate. Johnson plans to sell off Elvis’s dream and so Elvis is stuck working overtime and ticking off a couple of oddball ladies who are remarkably uninteresting fish for his tackle to play against (see what I did there?). One is a mopey singer Elvis competes with for money at the club, and the other is a little rich girl who plans to salve their relationship by using her daddy’s money to rescue the boat. Yawn. Bring on the girls girls girls! for crying out loud.
Now for the bad news. There’s some awfully played Chinese exploitation. It’s not mean-spirited of course, but if the idea is to mollify our Asia-phobic audience members it hardly seems worth the effort. The pair of tiny tot Chinese girls are amazingly entertainment- annoying and their cuteness so forced the overall effect combined with the awful “ancient Chinese secret” jokes actually physically hurts. I’m sure for the period it was seen as ground-breaking, Asians didn’t get a lot of roles back then. So it’s a mixed bag of scratching a certain kind of rash.
Still that’s not the girls we were hoping for! And by the time Mr. Johnson is cadding it up on our little rich girl, it’s Elvis to the rescue and solving his troubles with a good old dust-up. Johnson seems not such a bad guy really, despite wanting desperately to mash on a pretty lady, he does see the error of his ways and agrees to some hard terms. Honestly, NOT that bad a human being–the real world is full of far worse stubborn manipulators and exploiters.
I won’t quell your burning questions of Elvis getting particular Girls! Girls! Girls!, or if indeed he sails off into the sunset on his dreamboat. But an awkward musical sequence that ensues from Laurel Goodwin’s pathetic botching of a dinner is worth the price of admission here, the Flamenco themed dance and especially when she starts playing bull and running into Elvis’s offered drape-cape . . . yikes! Laurel by the way is famous for being on the Star Trek pilot episode which was an entirely different show than what ended up produced as a series, and in some ways, unfortunately!
Anyway, Enjoy Girls! Girls! Girls! for nothing on Prime!