Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Shelley Fabares and Elvis Presley
GIRL HAPPY (1965). Director: Boris Sagal.

Club owner Big Frank (Harold J. Stone) is afraid of what might happen if his 21-year-old daughter, Valerie (Shelley Fabares), goes to Fort Lauderdale for vacation, so he hires singer Rusty Wells (Elvis Presley) to be her secret chaperone. In the meantime, Rusty does his best to romance the more voluptuous Deena (Mary Ann Mobley), but his burgeoning feelings for Valerie get in the way. Girl Happy seems inspired by Where the Boys Are, made five years earlier, which had similar hijinks occurring in Fort Lauderdale. Cliche follows cliche as Elvis and his combo -- Joby Baker [Looking for Love], Gary Crosby [Mardi Gras], and Jimmy Hawkins -- warble some pleasant if minor songs, the snappiest of which is "Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce." Nita Talbot shows up briefly as a sexy dancer, Jackie Coogan is a cop, and Fabrizio Mioni romances both Valerie and Deena as an Italian exchange student. This is another in a long line of crappy Elvis Presley musicals that are often indistinguishable from one another. Presley performs nicely, but his character is rather negative. At first thinking that Valerie is unattractive, he immediately pronounces her a "loser." Fabares has a nice enough figure, but she was clearly told: "shoulders back, chest thrust forward." Peter Brooks [The Girls on the Beach] offers some fun as the intellectual Brentwood Von Durgenfeld, who in movies like this only elicits scorn, especially regarding his preference for brains over beauty. His scene with Nita Talbot provides the movie's only laugh, however.

Verdict: Elvis schlock with a couple of decent tunes. *1/2.


angelman66 said...

Bill, you are 100% correct about this, and what a shame. With Presley's talent and those generous MGM budgets, you'd think they could have come up with better than this. Most of the 30 MGM Elvis vehicles are the same movie, rehashed over and over, with mostly unmemorable music to boot.

As a HUGE Elvis fan, I remain brokenhearted that he never fulfilled his acting aspirations (He really wanted to be the next James Dean). If not for his decision to go exclusively into live concerts after his 1969 return to Las Vegas, I don't think he would have achieved legend status. The mediocre movies always seemed to tarnish his image, in my mind.

William said...

I couldn't agree more. He became a joke when he didn't need to be. Still, millions of people went to see these movies because they made so darn many of them. As Cue movie critic William Wolf once wrote: "Elvis Presley has made his 17th movie -- or rather he's made the same movie 17 times!"