Musical Monday: Tickle Me (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 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Tickle Me (1965) – Musical #677

tickle me 3

Studio:
Allied Artists

Director:
Norman Taurog

Starring:
Elvis Presley, Julie Adams, Jocelyn Lane, Jack Mullaney, Merry Anders, Bill Williams, Edward Faulkner, Connie Gilchrist, Barbara Werle, Allison Hayes, Grady Sutton

Plot:
Lonnie Beale (Presley) is a down on his luck rodeo performer. He’s hired by Vera Radford (Adams) to work on her health ranch, where all of the female residents fall for Lonnie. But Lonnie has eyes for fitness instructor Pam (Lane), who keeps running into trouble and having her house raided by thieves who want her grandfather’s inheritance.

Trivia:
• The only movie Elvis made for Allied Artists. The film helped save the studio from bankruptcy.
• This is the only movie that didn’t have a movie-specific soundtrack, because all of the songs were recorded from 1960 to 1963 and were released as singles or on other albums.
• Final feature film of Allison Hayes
• Working title was “Isle of Paradise” and “Rodeo.”

tickle me 7tickle me 2

Highlights:
• Connie Gilchrist dancing to Elvis singing.
• Old west days dream sequence
• The “haunted” western ghost town.

Notable Songs:
• “(It’s a) Long Lonely Highway” performed by Elvis Presley
• “Dirty, Dirty Feeling” performed by Elvis Presley
• “Put the Blame on Me” performed by Elvis Presley
• “Night Rider” performed by Elvis Presley

tickle me 5

My review:
As a child, I saw part of a movie and the scene stuck with me, but I never knew what it was. It was where a woman was in a house and a trunk closes on her nightgown. She’s frightened and thinks someone is holding her gown.
For years I didn’t know what movie it was, until I visited TICKLE ME (1965) for the first time. This is the film!

TICKLE ME (1965) may be the strangest Elvis Presley movie … but it’s also probably the funniest.

In the film, Elvis plays Lonnie, a rodeo star who isn’t working because of an injury. He gets work at a health and diet ranch, run by Vera Radford (Julie Adams). Lonnie disrupts some of the activities, because all of the women think he is so handsome. The other male worker (Faulkner) resents Lonnie’s popularity, but Lonnie befriends goofy Stanley Potter (Jack Mullaney). While all the women chase Lonnie, he only has eyes for the ranch’s fitness instructor Pam (Jocelyn Lane). Pam has her own problems — her grandfather left her a large sum of money, and other people in the area also want it.

TICKLE ME has so many twists and turns. First we start out with an out of work singing cowboy/rodeo star that’s out of work. Then we have an exercise ranch filled with women. Then a woman whose grandpa left her lots of money in a ghost town. And the is the ghost town haunted with ghosts or criminals? To top it all off, we also have a dream sequence with our main characters in old west days.

The last 30 minutes of the film is dedicated to the letter from grandpa and where the money may be.

It’s entirely kooky, with werewolves spooks at the end trying to scare the leads out of the ghost town. And while it’s all so ridiculous, it kept me laughing and I had a great time watching this movie.

Part of why this Elvis film is more comedic than others, is due to writers Edward Bernds and Elwood Ullman, who wrote “The Three Stooges” and “The Bowery Boys.”

The only downside is that Elvis Presley and his leading lady Jocelyn Lane don’t have any chemistry. They should have let Julie Adams be his leading lady.

But really, this movie is a riot. And it even has some silly spookiness at the end in the ghost town. If you don’t take it too seriously and just let yourself have fun, it’s a great time.

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