Musical Monday: Speedway (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.

This week’s musical:
“Speedway” (1968)– Musical #566

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Norman Taurog

Starring:
Elvis Presley, Nancy Sinatra, Bill Bixby, William Schallert, Gale Gordon, Ross Hagen, Victoria Paige Meyerink, Carl Ballantine, Charlotte Stewart, Burt Mustin (uncredited)
Themselves: Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, Cale Yarborough, Tiny Lund

Plot:
Steve (Presley) is a successful racecar driver and his best friend Kenny (Bixby) is his manager. Steve frequently tries to help people out of financial jams, from helping a single dad and his family with groceries and a car to helping a young couple get married. But as it turns out, Steve doesn’t have as much money as he through due to gambling and mismanagement by Kenny. IRS worker Susan Jacks (Sinatra) is there to collect the money.

Continue reading

Advertisements

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.

Continue reading

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.

live5

.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 story line), and a story line 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.

live7

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.

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

Musical Monday: It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963)

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.

fair1This week’s musical:
It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963)– Musical #547

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Norman Taurog

Starring:
Elvis Presley, Joan O’Brien, Gary Lockwood, Vicky Tiu, Yvonne Craig, Kam Tong, H.M. Wynant, Kurt Russell (uncredited)

Plot:
Mike (Elvis) and Danny (Lockwood) play two crop-duster pilots. Danny loses all of their pay gambling so the two are broke. While hitchhiking, they end up on Uncle Walter (Tong) and Sue-Lin’s (Tiu) truck to the Seattle World’s Fair. Uncle Walter isn’t able to take Sue-Lin to the fair, so Mike volunteers; giving him the opportunity to meet pretty nurse, Dianne (O’Brien).

Continue reading