Musical Monday: Girl Happy (1965)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Girl Happy” (1965)– Musical #229

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Boris Sagal

Starring:
Elvis Presley, Shelley Fabares, Harold J. Stone, Gary Crosby, Jimmy Hawkins, Joby Baker, Chris Noel, Nita Talbot, Mary Ann Mobley, Jackie Coogan, Peter Brooks, Lyn Edgington

Plot:
Rusty Wells (Presley) and his band (Crosby, Hawkins) play in Big Frank’s (Stone) club in Chicago. Big Frank is protective over his daughter Valerie (Fabares), who wants to go to Fort Lauderdale for spring break. Rusty and his band members volunteer to watch Valerie and make sure she doesn’t get in to trouble.

Trivia:
-First of three films Shelley Fabares co-starred in with Elvis Presley
-Shot in California, rather than Fort Lauderdale
-“The Meanest Girl in Town” was written in 1964 by Bill Haley

Shelley Fabares in “Girl Happy”

Highlights:
-Technicolor photography
-The Clam dance number

Notable Songs:
-“Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce” performed by Elvis Presley (because it’s funny)
-“The Clam” performed by Elvis Presley
-“Girl Happy” performed by Elvis Presley
-“Spring Fever” performed by Elvis Presley and Shelley Fabares
-“The Meanest Girl in Town” performed by Elvis Presley
-“Puppet On a String” performed by Elvis Presley

Gary Crosby, Elvis Presley and Jimmy Hawkins in “Girl Happy”

My review:
To clear the air, we all know Elvis Presley films are generally colorful fluff. But they are a lot of fun. And Girl Happy (1965) is one of my favorite of the Elvis musicals.

A large part of what makes this film great is Shelley Fabares as the leading lady. In my opinion, Shelley Fabares, Dolores Hart, and Ann-Margret are Elvis’ three best leading ladies. Many of the other leading ladies weren’t well-known but these three match up to Elvis’ star caliber.

Shelley was a sweet, soft, down-to-Earth young lady in the film and not a sex pot that Elvis chased. Elvis doesn’t chase Shelley’s character but is looking after her and then falls in love.

While the plot is fluffy, it’s fun and fast-moving. Some Elvis movies can be a chore to sit through but this one is so entertaining and happy.

We even get to see Jackie Coogan in a small role!

“Girl Happy” was MGM’s attempt at the American International Pictures beach films like, “Beach Party.” If you ask me, MGM did it better than AIP. Probably because it had a larger budget.

Even my 5-month-old niece seemed to enjoy this movie, and particularly bopped around and gurgled to “The Clam.”

If you’re looking for a breezy, colorful film for the spring and summer, “Girl Happy” is an easy pick.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page, follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet or e-mail at cometoverhollywood@gmail.com

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