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  Clambake Poor Little Rich Boy
Year: 1967
Director: Arthur H. Nadel
Stars: Elvis Presley, Shelley Fabares, Will Hutchins, Bill Bixby, Gary Merrill, James Gregory, Suzie Kaye, Harold Peary, Marj Dusay, Jack Good, Olga Kaya, Angelique Pettyjohn, Sam Riddle, Wallace Earl, Sue England, Lee Krieger, Arlene Charles, Steve Cory
Genre: Musical, Comedy, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Scott Hayward (Elvis Presley) has left his family home in Texas to strike out on his own, but that is no ordinary family he is trying to get away from, because he is the son of a millionaire oilman, Duster (James Gregory), who wishes him to follow in his father's footsteps. Scott, while grateful for the money, craves independence and heads for Florida and the beach, but on the way he finds women more interested in his flash car and his bank account than in his personality. However, he meets lovelorn waterskiing instructor Tom Wilson (Will Hutchins), and they find they can come to an arrangement...

Even by Elvis standards, Clambake was a pretty stupid movie, but by the time 1967 had arrived, his days of making anything remotely adventurous for the cinema were behind him. It's notable that he didn't take off his shirt in this one, not that he was out of shape, but he was looking a little chubby around the face, giving the impression he was simply showing up, saying his lines, and heading home as quickly as possible without much care and attention given to the quality of the production. The whole thing spoke of a laziness, an attitude that his fans would watch him in any old rubbish as long as he crooned the tunes.

So this really is any old rubbish, with Elvis barely breaking a sweat as he dazedly goes through the motions of the selection of action sequences, songs, and romance, with a little comedy thrown in for good measure. And yet, the presence of the King of Rock 'n' Roll, no matter how undemanding the circumstances, does offer it that element of intrigue, which is the case with even his worst films, and in the case of some of his more embarrassing ventures, positively provides the best reason for watching. Here millionaire Scott is pretending to be lowly Tom so that he can find a woman who isn't only after his money and loves him for who he is, so what do you think the odds are that he will find someone?

This does give rise to a truly weird scene where Elvis sings a duet in the opening ten minutes - no, not with leading lady Shelley Fabares, here in her third and final Presley movie, but with Hutchins as he drives Scott's car and Scott rides his motorcycle, while they are wearing each other's clothes (!), which they might have gotten away with if Hutchins' singing wasn't so tone deaf. Thankfully, he doesn't sing again, but you might have thought they'd have spared the poor man's blushes and dubbed another voice over his efforts. Anyway, once they reach the hotel, their arrangement can blossom, with Tom gathering a whole coterie of women to follow him about, while Scott starts to have feelings for golddigger Dianne (Fabares).

Trouble is, Dianne is looking to be romanced by an alternative millionaire, Bill Bixby with the unlikely name of James J. Jamison III, and unlikely hair to go with it. As he is the main rival to our hero, the fist fight that Elvis gets into in all his movies can't be far away, but at least they do something unexpected with it, which might be more to do with the star's diminishing enthusiasm. Elsewhere, there is a huge amount of back projection used because Presley couldn't be bothered to go all the way to Florida, so the waterskiing bits make the Beach Party movies look like a documentary, with obvious doubles for the stars in the location footage. As for the songs, the King does a nice verison of You Don't Know Me, best known as a Ray Charles hit, but most of the rest is on the level of the excruciating Confidence, a cheesy High Hopes copy sung to a bunch of kiddies. Yet while this is indeed stupid, it's not offensively so, merely undistinguished. Music by Jeff Alexander.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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