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  Tickle Me Life At A Top People's Health Farm
Year: 1965
Director: Norman Taurog
Stars: Elvis Presley, Julie Adams, Jocelyn Lane, Jack Mullaney, Merry Anders, Bill Williams, Edward Faulkner, Connie Gilchrist, Barbara Werle, John Dennis, Grady Sutton, Allison Hayes, Ines Pedroza, Lilyan Chauvin, Angela Greene
Genre: Musical, Comedy, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Lonnie Beale (Elvis Presley) gets off the bus in this smalltown in the middle of nowhere and finds there is nobody there to meet him, as he had expected, being a professional rodeo cowboy, that he had a new job lined up. He takes his luggage into the nearby hotel and asks the desk clerk about his situation, and he suggests that seeing as how Lonnie is carrying a guitar he should make a bit of cash providing entertainment for the bar customers. The cowboy decides this is a fair idea and that night performs a few songs, but is such a knockout with the ladies that a fight erupts; dusting himself off, he is approached by a ranch owner with a proposition...

But this is no ordinary ranch! Yes, it's an excuse to get the King of Rock 'n' Roll into the presence of lots of lovely ladies, as the place where he has been hired is an exclusive health farm for women hoping to lose a few pounds. Bemused at first, Lonnie eventually takes this in his stride, and predictably the women all act as if he is absolute dynamite on legs (which as he was Elvis, he probably was) - all except one, the one who he really wants to get to know. She is fitness instructor Pam Merritt, played by Euro-starlet Jocelyn Lane doing a pretty good American accent but still retaining a certain British haughtiness that makes her hard to warm to until her character defrosts late on.

But that's what happens near the end, as in the meantime there's a fistful of hijinks to get up to as Presley is paired with a comedy sidekick in the person of Jack Mullaney, playing Stanley. Mullaney was a goodnatured goof of an actor, reminiscent of the comics of yesteryear with a touch of Jerry Lewis here, a bit of Lou Costello there, and he seems to fit in with the humorous parts far better than his more famous co-star. No wonder, as the script was created by Elwood Ullman and Edward Bernds who were better known for their work with The Three Stooges, and indeed were still writing for the team around the time Tickle Me was filmed.

Elvis seems more comfortable with his songs, none of them originals as a costcutting measure, but including one with the dubious title Dirty, Dirty Feeling which is not quite as saucy as it sounds. When not miming away to those tunes, he does get a bit of comic business that he pulls off with some aplomb, a dream sequence where he appears as a milk-drinking gunslinger which hints at a better direction the film could have taken instead of the one we got. As it is, the leading man struts his stuff around studio sets, is adored by the females, and gives the impression that he could do this kind of thing in his sleep, as indeed he may have been on this evidence. And yet, like a surprising number of his features, it is extremely easy to watch.

It's presented in superbright colour, a large percentage of the actresses are good to look at, and the lighthearted touches tend to outweigh the more serious plotlines where Lonnie ruins his chances with Pam by getting caught smooching his boss (Julie Adams). The most important of these plotlines is the one where Pam reveals she has a treasure map to the location of her late grandfather's horde of gold, important because it gets Elvis into a spot of bother more befitting a comedy team from the past than a singing megastar of the sixties. Yes, this is the film where he visits a haunted house, along with Pam, for the saving of, and Stanley, for the gag setups with Elvis as the straight man. It is pretty ridiculous seeing him in these situations, but somehow his essential cool was able to allow him to coast through any big screen indignity Colonel Tom Parker got him mixed up with, and if it's all incredibly stupid, it does amuse.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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