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Hello JPFmovie fans I know we are a little late in paying tribute to the late Elvis Presley 40th anniversary of his death on August 16, 1977. We wanted to wait until all of the gushing died down before we paid our respects to the King. We’re going to look at one of his lesser known films Roustabout (1964). Who knew you could make a musical about a carnival worker that actually turned out to be one of his bestselling albums?

On August 16th, 2017, people lined up to have their bags probed and prodded by security officers to get inside the barrier near the mansion for the annual vigil honoring the King, who died of a heart attack Aug. 16, 1977.  Elvis Presley is still one of the most revered entertainers even 40 years after his death.  Putting aside how he died, as a young man he had a remarkable career and only when the temptations often put in front of celebrities got the better of him did we lose one of the finest performers of all time.

 

Roustabout was Elvis’s 16th movie made in 1964 by Paramount pictures.  The film’s soundtrack was one of the King’s most successful reaching number one on the Billboard Album Chart.  Despite the soundtrack’s success, this film remains one of his lesser known productions.  Co-starring in the film is the legendary Barbara Stanwyck, who needs no introduction.  Stanwck’s long career spanned over 90 films and in 1944 the government listed her as the nation’s highest-paid woman, earning $400,000.  She received four Academy Award nominations and in 1982 was awarded an Honorary Academy Award for her contributions to the acting industry.  She was nominated five times for Emmy Awards, winning three of them, and she received four Golden Globe nominations, winning one. She received Life Achievement Awards from the American Film Institute, the Screen Actors Guild and the Los Angles Film Critics Association.

 

Legend has it Elvis made this movie so he could work with Stanwyck and, as is typical of many of his films, other cast members appeared in subsequent roles of the King’s future films including “Paradise, Hawaiian Style,” “Blue Hawaii,” “Girls! Girls! Girls!,” “It Happened At The World’s Fair,” “Viva Las Vegas,” (previously reviewed), “Kissin’ Cousins” and “Girl Happy.”  So, the film has a sort of a duality to it, its musical score reaching number one on the Billboard charts yet reviled by the critics as clichéd and formulaic– which is true.  But enough of that, let’s take a look at the movie.

As with many of the King’s movies the plot is relatively simple: Musician Charlie Rogers (Elvis Presley) is fired from a gig at a teahouse after brawling with several college. After a night in jail, Charlie hits the road on his Honda 305 Superhawk motorcycle. He spots Cathy Lean (Joan Freeman) driving with her father Joe (Leif Erickson) and their employer, Maggie Morgan (Barbara Stanwyck).  When Charlie tries to become friendly with Cathy, Joe forces him off the road and the bike is wrecked after crashing into a wooden fence.

 

Maggie offers him a place to stay and a job with her struggling traveling carnival while the bike is being repaired. Charlie becomes a “carnie,” a “roustabout.” Maggie recognizes his musical talents and promotes him to feature attraction.  His act soon draws large crowds.  Off stage, Charlie romances Cathy, which creates animosity with Joe.  After the two men repeatedly clash and Charlie is accused of holding back a customer’s lost wallet that Joe was accused of stealing, Charlie leaves to star in the much better financed show of rival carnival producer Harry Carver (Pat Buttram).

Once again, he is a great success. However, when Charlie learns that Maggie is facing bankruptcy, he returns to her carnival.  In the musical finale, he is happily reunited with Cathy.  In the carnival saved from bankruptcy.

 

When members of the JPFmovies crew visited Graceland, we went to the Elvis DVD gift shop and asked to purchase a copy of the DVD version of Roustabout.  Incredibly, the store did not carry the film.  We couldn’t believe our ears, here we are at the King’s headquarters and we couldn’t by a copy of his 16th movie, you’re killing me!  We made fun of that store manager for at least 20 minutes and asked if there were any other Elvis movies they didn’t have in stock.  He offered to order it for us and pay the shipping costs; however, we turn down this “generous” the offer of the Presley Empire knowing we could acquire the DVD from other sources probably at a much lower price.  What kind of operation focused on one performer does not carry all of his movies for sale?  Graceland is geared to making money, but when asked to purchase one of his films they didn’t have it?  Are you kidding?

Leaving all that aside, Roustabout remains one of the JPFmovie team’s best liked films, because it involves such a strange plot, a bad boy going good while working as a carnival worker?  Obviously, this film was not written by a brain trust, yet it is worthy of watching.  So, if you want to honor the King’s memory, Roustabout is a good choice to watch.

 

We still miss you Elvis and you are still the King.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

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Well we thought it could not get much worse but we were wrong: The Chill Factor (1999)

The Chill Factor had a budget of $34,000,000—the question I want answered is where the other $33,500,000 went because it certainly didn’t go into the script.  Cuba Gooding Jr. (of Jerry Maguire fame) manages to soil what was left of his acting reputation as well as illustrates a complete inability to pick the right movies to enhance his career—that or his agent is totally brain dead.  In fact I recently came across an article looking at Gooding’s downward spiral since winning an Oscar stating:

“Perhaps it is as simple as the Oscar curse. Before his fervent acceptance speech at the 1996 Academy Awards, Cuba Gooding Jr. was an A-lister on the rise; after that, it all seemed to go downhill.  Cuba Gooding Jr.’s career choices, to put it mildly, became erratic.  Could behind-the-scenes management kerfuffles also have been to blame?  Should Gooding not have chosen, as Tropic Thunder‘s Kirk Lazarus might say, to “go full retard” in Radio?  And who will answer for the abomination that was Boat Trip?  (And Snow Dogs?  And Chill Factor?  The list goes on…)”

The “Plot” of this Hollywood red headed step child is exceeding cliché.  The Army develops a horrifically dangerous chemical weapon that detonates if it temperature rises above fifty degrees and is nicknamed “Elvis.”  The film sounds like it is the cousin of that odious movie Speed (Sandra Bullock) except contending with heat and not velocity.  Of course the experiment goes wrong on an island killing a squadron of soldiers and their commanding officer is held responsible to the tune of ten years in Leavenworth.  During the commanding officer’s tenure in prison, he plots his revenge to steal this deadly weapon of mass destruction and sell it to the highest bidder.  Actually I don’t think I need to continue because you already know what happens, the mercenaries chase the two fish out of water and the chemical weapon is neutralized at the end with the bad guys dying a graphic and gruesome death.

Dr. H thinks that this movie would appeal to people who believe that Brittany Spears is the creative genius of our generation and that G.W. Bush is an intellectual force to be reckoned with.  I agree.  The main difference between The Chill Factor and Chain Reaction is that Chain Reaction at least had a decent cast while the Chill Factor has nothing. 

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2011 in Movie Reviews

 

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The Return of the King in Viva Las Vegas!

Viva Las Vegas (VLV) is often hailed as Elvis’s best movie—an assessment I happen to agree with.  What makes VLV different that the typical EP movie?  Simple Ann Margaret.  Not only is she beautiful, but almost as talented as the King himself.  I say almost because when you watch these two magnificent performers singing and dancing you can tell Margaret is counting her steps (perfectly of course) but when looked at next to Elvis he glides moving as naturally as breathing a sign that he really had the music inside: a true natural.

As in many of his scripted movies, VLV Elvis plays the fiercely independent “fight the man” character in some sort of car racing event.  Here, Elvis refuses the proposition of wealthy count to handsomely compensate him for “blocking” for the count in the race thereby increasing the chances of the counts victory.  Even when Elvis looses all of his money after falling in the hotel pool, he would rather wait tables than sell out to the count.

Enter Ann Margaret.  She rolls in and captures the eye of both Elvis and the wealthy count both try to find her by touring the Vegas hotel shows hoping to be the object of her affection.  The competition for Ann Margaret’s attention becomes almost comical as each man tries to out do the other.  Along the way Elvis takes her on the ultimate date.  In one day they water ski, have a western-style showdown, tour Vegas in a helicopter, shoot skeet, ride scooters, and dance in a gymnasium.

The final musical scene is the hotel employee talent show and Ann Margaret gives Elvis a run for his money with her hotter-than-hot striptease “Appreciation.”  Naturally Elvis pulls it out in the end and perhaps rightfully so.

If you didn’t know that Margaret and Elvis were lovers during this film you would figure it out by the chemistry created during their performances.

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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J.P. Reviews “The King” in Spinout (1966).

The King, Elvis Presley (like I even need to mention his name), plays Mike McCoy a lead singer in a band and (as usual) a part-time race car driver trying to get by with his comrades all while he is being pursued by three different types of women wanting his hand in marriage.  The first is Les (my favorite), the tomboy red-headed female drummer of his band.  The second is a spoiled heiress and a Daddy’s girl.  The third is a famous book writer who specializes on men and how to reel one in.

In many of the reviews I’ve read about this movie, others seem to think that Spinout is not one of the King’s best or most memorable films, I think they are full of it.  One reason is that we get to see the King in his element: as a free spirited living on the edge race car driver caught up with multiple chicks.  Yes we have seen this before, but who cares?  Another item of interest is the band plays electric guitars or simulates playing them while the King sticks to his trademark regular wooden model.

Spinout wraps up nicely with a big race and you know the King is the winner while the race itself part of the fun.  Just so there are no loose ends, each of the women pursing the King find marriage (and presumably happiness) with other characters in the movie allowing the King remain the free spirited rambler he proclaims to be throughout the movie.

While no top 40 songs came out of this one for Elvis, he makes up for it in the vocal and comedy department.  Spinout is a great movie for fans of the King, the rest of you can go to hell.

Naturally a rose.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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