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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Musical Monday: Live a Little, Love a Little (1968)

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.

liveThis week’s musical:
Live a Little, Love a Little (1968) – Musical #548

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Norman Taurog

Starring:
Elvis Presley, Michele Carey, Dick Sargent, Rudy Vallee, Don Porter, Sterling Holloway, Celeste Yarnall, Marcia Mae Jones (uncredited), Ann Doran (uncredited)

Plot:
Greg Nolan (Presley) is a photographer who loses his job, apartment and freedom to do what he pleases when he meets Bernice (Carey). To pay for a new apartment that Bernice finds him, Greg works two photographer jobs at the same time while trying to his bosses (Vallee, Porter) from finding out.

Trivia:
-Director Norman Taurog retired after this film
-Based on the book Kiss My Firm But Pliant Lips by Dan Greenburg, published in 1965
-Shot on location in Hollywood and around Los Angeles

Highlights:
-Elvis talking to a Great Dane during a dream sequence. But the Great Dane is actually a man dressed like a Great Dane.

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.Gif courtesy of Giphy.com

The dog even dances in the next number

The dog even dances in the next number

Notable Songs:
-“A Little Less Conversation” performed by Elvis Presley
-“Edge of Reality” performed by Elvis Presley (during a dream sequence in a suit made to look like pajamas)
-“Almost in Love” performed by Elvis Presley

My review:
I watched this movie in June and I’m just now writing about it. I think I have been so stunned by how bad it was I had to recover for a few months.

And before anyone starts with saying “Well of course and Elvis movie is bad,” all of his other films (Girl Happy, GI Blues, Blue Hawaii, It Happened at the World’s Fair) look like gold in comparison to this one. It’s true: most of Elvis Presley movies have as much substance as a bunch of fluffy, sweet cotton candy.

Bernice (Carey) won't leave Greg (Presley) alone. Also pictured, Celeste Yarnall.

Bernice (Carey) won’t leave Greg (Presley) alone. Also pictured, Celeste Yarnall.

But “Live a Little, Love a Little” is different. Maybe it’s because it came in 1968, just a year before movies like “Easy Rider” were released. Films were changing and it’s obvious that “Live a Little” was trying to follow that lead. It’s shot like a weird, late-1960s movie with innovative camera work, a plot that doesn’t make much sense (or have a storyline), and a storyline that hops around. It also features crazy, unconventional male/female relationships and a woman out to get men and whatever she wants.

This isn’t your conventional Elvis Presley love story. He doesn’t even want the girl! The movie starts with him minding his own business when Michele Carey’s character virtually throws herself at him and then forces him to stay at her house. After sleeping there for three days, he leaves to head back to his own apartment to find it leased to a new family-thanks to his new looney girlfriend (a term I use loosely). The girl tells Elvis her name is Bernice but she goes by about two as well (Susie, Betty and Alice). Elvis then loses his job after randomly because of Bernice’s shenanigans and starts working as a photographer for two companies simultaneously.

Throughout the whole movie Elvis is trying to get rid of Bernice and then ends up with her at the end. It’s unreal. I think I only stuck with this movie because I was paralyzed by how bad it was.

In all, the movie was also more mature than other Presley films referencing drug use, adult language and sexual encounters. That wasn’t what made me dislike the movie, though it was different. While Elvis was the rebel of the 1950s, he was slipping in the new world of the late-1960s. It appears that he’s trying to keep up in this film but isn’t comfortable doing so.

There are only two notable features of this swirling mess of a film:
1. Elvis introduces the song “A Little Less Conversation”
2. A weird dream sequence with Elvis talking to a man dressed like a Great Dane. It’s only notable because it’s so weird.

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This film was also directed by Hollywood veteran Norman Taurog, who started in Hollywood in 1920 and directed films like “Boys Town” and “Presenting Lily Mars.” He also was famously Jackie Cooper’s uncle who made him cry on set for films. Taurog retired after this movie and I can’t help but wonder if it was related to the film just being plain bad.

If you are a die-hard Elvis Presley fan, don’t let me review deter you. Just be prepared to not see the regular Elvis you are used to seeing in his other race car driving, beach frolicking, girl loving films.

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