Musical Monday: Clambake (1967)

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:
Clambake (1967)– Musical #296

 

Studio:
United Artists

Director:
Arthur H. Nadel

Starring:
Elvis Presley, Shelley Fabares, Will Hutchins, Bill Bixby, Gary Merrill, James Gregory, Suzie Kaye, Teri Garr (uncredited)

Plot:
Wealthy oil heir Scott Hayward (Presley) wants to be sure women love him for him and not his money. He switches places with Tom Wilson (Hutchins) and the two head to a luxury hotel in Miami. Tom acts like Scott and Scott acts as the hotel ski instructor. Scott falls for Dianne Carter (Fabares), who only has eyes for rich boat racer James J. Jamison III (Bixby).

Trivia:
-Ray Walker dubbed the singing voice of Will Hutchins
-Working title was “Too Big for Texas”
-Filming was delayed for 11 days because Elvis fell and had a concussion, according to The Gospel According to Elvis by Kevin Crouch and Tanja Crouch
-“Big Boss Man” and “Guitar Man” were featured on the soundtrack but not in the film.
-Filmed in Techniscope

Highlights:
-Flipper cameo
-Bill Bixby

The cast of Clambake: Bill Bixby, Will Hutchins, Shelley Fabares, Elvis Presley

Notable Songs:
-“Clambake” performed by Elvis Presley
-“Who Needs Money?” performed by Elvis Presley and Will Hutchins, dubbed by Ray Walker
-“Hey, Hey, Hey” performed by Elvis Presley
-“The Girl I Never Loved” performed by Elvis Presley

My review:
Like most of Elvis films, “Clambake” isn’t a strong film, but it’s fabulously entertaining.

It starts no differently than any other Elvis film: with Elvis driving down the road in a convertible car. Whether he’s rich or poor, he is always driving in some sort of convertible at the beginning of perhaps 70 percent of his films. It turns out he’s a rich guy in this film and he’s fed up with living life the way his dad wants him to. He also isn’t sure if a girl would want him for his personality, or for his money. So we have a take on “The Prine and the Pauper” when Elvis switches places with Will Hutchins. They both head to the same resort where Elvis will work and Will plays.

What makes this film so entertaining is the cast that the two guys meet at the hotel resort: Bill Bixby, Shelley Fabares AND Gary Merrill. Bixby is a rich playboy who all the girls flock around, Fabares is a gold digger and Merrill is the sage boat builder who takes Elvis under his wing and helps him build a race boat.

Bill Bixby is charming and really the person who I was cheering for in this film. Shelley Fabares is lovely with fantastic, mod clothing but I’m disappointed that she doesn’t get to sing. But the real surprise was seeing Gary Merrill pop up in this. Gary Merrill in an Elvis movie?!

He even is semi in a song and dance number as Elvis and a bunch of girls paint “goop,” experimental boat sealant so the boat won’t break apart during the race.

This movie isn’t an Academy Award-nominated film, but “Clambake” is colorful and fun. If you want a lighthearted, clear your mind hour and 39 minutes, this isn’t a bad way to spend it.

Note: There are on actual clambakes held during this film.

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2 thoughts on “Musical Monday: Clambake (1967)

  1. Literally laughed out loud at your comment, “It starts no differently than any other Elvis film: with Elvis driving down the road in a convertible car. ” haha It wasn’t until I read that line that I realized just how true that statement is! Love it! This does sound like a fun movie. And…..Bill Bixby? Love Love LOVE Bill Bixby! Was so sad when he passed away.

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  2. This film is notable in Elvis World as being filmed at the nadir for him personally – it was emblematic for all that was wrong with his film career. He was also unhealthy at the time and this is the only film in which he looks not great. But, you’re right, it’s very enjoyable. Shelley is great and was King’s fave, appearing in three films. Bixby plays a creep well and shows up in “Speedway” later. James Gregory is entertaining as Duster (watch him discard a $1 bill from his roll!) and this film is a good example of Elvis’ characters having issues with their parents – in most films they are dead/absent or giving him grief. Hal Peary, radio actor, plays the door man. “Hey, Hey, Hey” is a textbook example of a good movie song that suffers from it’s lyrics as it is used as a plot device; as most of his movie songs are. The hidden gem though is his version of “You Don’t Know Me” although a non-movie-soundtrack recording he did later is superior.

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