I Saw A Film!

Between 1964-69 Elvis was pumping out three campy fluff films a year. Like many young men of his era, he’d had an awakening, watching James Dean and, of course, Brando, and desperately wanted to do something dramatic like those icons. He did get himself a screentest, well, his manager the colonel did, but he never got to do anything but the money-grubbing, twee, kiddo-aimed nonsense that directly competed with Frankie and Annette, and Help!

Each Elvis film a formula of a cute lady, a handful of terrible songs for him to perform (mostly) and some opportunities for the King to smirk and get into clumsy fistfights. Girl Happy is pretty much right on schedule. Elvis is front man of a little combo that gets hired to follow the boss’s daughter on spring break and keep her out of trouble. Despite the ladies wearing huge baggy “bikinis” and hanging around a singular little hotel pool reading books, Elvis and crew manage to do nothing. They don’t drink, don’t have sex, and don’t end up on any actual locations (like a Miami beach or something). The fellows keep gawking, falling over themselves and rolling their eyes over the pretty ladies, but they seem as incapable as Looney Tunes characters in any social capacity.

Some of the more amusing bits are when Elvis and his group perform, of course, lip syncing to various crappy pop and Rock n’ Roll adjacent songs while wandering around with unplugged instruments or having the little girlfriend mime the lyrics with a sign that says “I’m evil”. The cuteness quotient is so off the graph as to just be strange, this stuff could not be more verdant than if it were being performed by the Bugaloos or the Wiggles. Taken in combination with the often used nursery rhyme melodies used for incidental music, one can’t help feeling like we’re supposed to be someplace between the Three Stooges and Beach Blanket Bingo. Which had to have been a hot spot for hauling in the bucks in the day.

Which leads me to believe, as I’ve said before, that the movie-going audience aimed at here were significantly more immature than modern kids are. If K-pop boy bands made twee romantic comedies, and for all I know they do, I would at least expect that they don’t go out of their way to insult their potential market with the insistence that they are wee little babies. The poster seems to suggest that we’re talking about college age shenanigans but, aside from some very chaste kissing on another lady who seems less than thrilled with Elvis (when he takes the phone off the hook, she puts it back, when he turns the lights down, she turns them back up, etc). One wonders what is implied with the the father’s concern about his little daughter being on spring break. Instead of a romantic evening with a Spanish lover on a boat, Elvis and crew “rescue her” by towing said boat back to the hotel and dumping it into the swimming pool! Wouldn’t a night of inconsequential sex be better than wrecking expensive property?

This is costing a few bucks on American Prime and it would be so much fun to lampoon these films Wet Hot American Summer style (though it would be a bit easy). I like to picture Elvis pulling out a condom.

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