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  Girl Happy King Break
Year: 1965
Director: Boris Sagal
Stars: Elvis Presley, Shelley Fabares, Harold J. Stone, Gary Crosby, Joby Baker, Jimmy Hawkins, Nita Talbot, Mary Ann Mobley, Fabrizio Mioni, Jackie Coogan, Peter Brooks, John Fiedler, Chris Noel, Lyn Edgington, Gail Gilmore, Pamela Curran, Rusty Allen
Genre: Musical, Comedy, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: It's blazing sunshine in Florida's Fort Lauderdale where spring break is about to arrive, but further north in Chicago there's a snowstorm, which happens to be where the band of Rusty Wells (Elvis Presley) are playing at a nighclub and going down terrifically with the punters. So much so that the owner, Big Frank (Harold J. Stone), wishes them to play for at least another four to six weeks, and he's not the sort of man you turn down, which proves a problem because Rusty and his three bandmates were hoping to travel down Florida way to perform for the holidaymakers...

But Rusty is no chump, and devises a method to get things going their way, and setting the plot in motion to boot in this, the first Elvis movie to be made after The Beatles had made such a huge impact, not only with their music but with a certain film called A Hard Day's Night, meaning The King of Rock 'n' Roll could not afford to rest on his laurels, though if you were not aware this was an Elvis-esque attempt to retain his audience in a Beatles style then you might not have noticed at all. This remained a very American effort all round, although now if anything they implemented more comedy as in the British Invasion movie than the star had ever tried before.

That plot saw Rusty and his friends bluff their way to Florida by telling Big Frank they would be looking after his daughter Valerie (Shelley Fabares in the first of three Presley outings) who happens to be going on her spring break, thus her overprotective father's peace of mind will be settled knowing Rusty is her chaperone - not that she is aware of him. One of those convoluted Elvis movie relationships then, not least because Rusty has taken a liking to Deena (one time Miss America Mary Ann Mobley) but keeps seeing his time spent alone with her thwarted thanks to having to see to it that Valerie stays away from wolves like Italian lothario Fabrizio Mioni. It's never stated outright, but we suspect cigar-chomping Big Frank could get violent.

Therefore Rusty has good reason to protect Valerie, though after a while to no one's surprise he gets to like her, and she him, until the inevitable revelation for a variation on the ancient "You went out with me on a bet?! How dare you!!!" romantic misunderstanding comes into play. In the meantime, Elvis did what he was good at, which was singing lots of (very short) songs, including a scene were he does The Clam - no, it's not that sort of movie, The Clam is a dance in which a selection of performers throw themselves into some terpsichorean athletics; it never caught on, but shows how no matter how modern they were trying to be, there was an element of fifties novelty to the goings-on in these lighter Elvis flicks.

The formula was pretty much set in stone otherwise, with obstacles to romance as predictable as they were surmountable, some leering dialogue whenever a pretty lady walked by, and a fistfight, this time in the form of a nightclub brawl - say what you like about the star's propensity for lapsing into fisticuffs during his vehicles, he sure could throw a punch. One thing they didn't return to was putting the King in a dress: bizarrely one of the gags here has him sneaking out of a jail cell accompanied by a bunch of incarcerated women while in drag - he even puts on a high, girlish voice to fool arresting officer Jackie Coogan into falling into a hole in the floor. Why does all this happen? It would take too long to explain, but rest assured it's just one of those crazy bits that the Presley production line set in motion by Colonel Tom Parker would regularly throw up. With bright colours popping off the screen and a ragingly heterosexual agenda, Girl Happy offered by the numbers but amusing diversions. Music by George Stoll.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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