Australian fans have been treated to a series of new Elvis DVD releases
in recent weeks. EIN takes a look at four titles from Paramount:
Girls! Girls! Girls!; Fun In Acapulco; Paradise, Hawaiian Style
and Easy Come, Easy Go.
Girls! Girls! (1962), DVD5332, Running Time: 95 minutes
Girls! Girls! is one of the stronger Elvis travelogues, benefiting
from being filmed before the slide in production values in Elvis
films became apparent.
Disc: The straight video-to DVD transfer is acceptable and the
colors are generally rich. There is some scratchiness in the opening
credits but overall the visuals are clean and crisp.
and Cast: A simple plot bolstered with 14 aurally satisfying
musical numbers. In any case the plot is secondary to the location
(Hawaii) and its beautiful scenery. Elvis is a poor charter boat
pilot by day and at night supplements his income as a night club
singer. But will he realize his dream of owning the “Westwind”,
and who will he choose as his long term partner? Laurel Goodwin
doesn't work for me as a love interest for Elvis, while the smoldering
sexuality of Stella Stevens could have been used to better effect.
Slate is effective as Elvis’ irritating nemesis and why they didn’t
give effective character actor, Robert Strauss (Sam), more screen
time is beyond me! As in a number of his 1960s films, Elvis's physical
movements are very contrived, and seem somewhat unnatural during
the 'staged' musical numbers.
This disc is not as good as the other three. At times the editing
leaves a lot to be desired with 'black screen' lingering far too
long (at times) between scenes. And as the original theatrical print
of Girls! Girls! Girls! originally had a running time of 106 minutes,
it is disappointing we only get a 95 minute DVD print!
& Soundtrack: The audio is acceptable. If turned up too high
it suffers from reverb, but there again given the limitations of
the recording process forty years ago you wouldn't achieve a better
sound by pumping up the volume. Some fans will be disappointed that
a number of the film's 14 songs are not sung in full but overall
the soundtrack is aurally satisfying. Return To Sender is the musical
(girls) An enjoyable (girls) way to spend 95 (girls) minutes!
In Acapulco (1963); DVD5331, Running time: 93 minutes
the production values for an Elvis film had clearly slipped by 1963,
Fun In Acapulco is still a very enjoyable 93 minutes. Filled with
an up-tempo Latin flavored soundtrack, reasonable script, exotic
locale and a solid supporting cast, there are enough ingredients
to maintain our interest.
and Acting: What dark secret lies in Elvis' past? OK there are
a few holes in the plot, but overall the narrative is enjoyable
and doesn't test our powers of concentration. I particularly liked
the not so cryptic dig at The Colonel's contract with Elvis and
the nice poke at US egocentrism. Elvis' acting is OK although his
fearful grimace in the flashback scene leaves a lot to be desired.
The supporting cast is very good, particularly Elvis' young sidekick/manager,
Raoul, who is a delight to watch. Another delight to watch is Ursula
Andress....in a red bikini! As a film about a man finding his way
back from fear, to courage, Paradise, Hawaiian Style lacks enough
scenes of real dramatic impact to effectively communicate this internal
struggle. But then again, we must always remember: "Everyone needs
a cousin in the telegram office."
Disc: The straight video to DVD transfer (no remastering!) is
clear and displays rich color.
& Soundtrack: With the choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 or Mono Surround
the audio is acceptable without setting the world on fire. You will
generate feedback if you pump up the volume. A highlight of the
film is its Latino flavoured music. And two of the most ridiculously
titled songs (There's No Room to Rhumba in a Sportscar and The Bullfighter
Was a Lady) actually fit nicely into the plot. Production values:
Characteristic of Elvis' films after 1962 there are too many supposedly
outdoor scenes that were obviously filmed in a studio using an "exterior"
backdrop. And as with Girls! Girls! Girls! little expense was allocated
to the editing process. The inclusion of several "black" screens
for a couple of seconds at the end of some scenes suggests the originating
video copy was edited for the commercial breaks on TV.
With it’s vibrant scenery, rich color and some great Latino flavored
music, it is easy to lose yourself in Acapulco!
Hawaiian Style (1965), DVD 5333, Running Time: 87 minutes
The poor remake of the super-successful, Blue Hawaii, shows its
age and relatively low production values on DVD. A strictly by-the-numbers,
simple plot line is not enhanced by the Hawaiian scenery or the
studio (indoor) shoots of several outdoor scenes.
and Cast: Paradise, Hawaiian Style is a weak clone of Blue Hawaii.
A flimsy plot with Elvis as a helicopter pilot is one of the weakest
for an Elvis film and the direction by Michael Moore is flabby.
The supporting cast does its best but compared to those in Blue
Hawaii, is second-rate; there are no colorfully drawn characterizations
and some of the lines and lead-in's to Elvis' musical numbers are
plain silly. The Hawaiian locale is a plus but as noted earlier,
there are far too many studio backdrop shots! The "I'll scratch
your back" joke is taken to ridiculous lengths. When some of the
best scenes are "long shots" and aerial take-off scenes you know
there is a problem! The supporting cast is not overly strong although
James Shigeta and Susannah Leigh are very competent in their roles.
Disc: A good clean video to DVD transfer let down by the absence
of any digital re-mastering. The editing is superior to that done
for Girls! Girls! Girls!, and in the absence of mastering, the color
saturation is good without being outstanding.
& Soundtrack: You'll have no difficulty hearing the storyline
and musical interludes, although like the DVD release of Girls!
Girls! Girls!, there is some rumble and distortion occasionally
on the audio track (particularly if you pump up the volume). The
musical numbers in Paradise, Hawaiian Style are one of the weakest
from Elvis' body of film work. With inane tracks like Queenie Wahinnie's
Papaya and It's A Dog's Life, the soundtrack never stood a chance
of rising above mediocrity. Structurally, a major mistake was to
have Elvis singing with children on "more than one" occasion in
this film. It really destroys any pretence to this being a reasonable
movie. In films like Clambake, you could get away with one ‘child
related’ song, but it was sorely overdone in Paradise, Hawaiian
Style. The musical highlight is the rich ballad, Drums of the Island.
A forgetful Elvis film. Hal Wallis, like the Colonel, has a lot
to answer for! Overall, the DVD is acceptable but I suspect this
one will gather dust in most fan's Elvis library. “A house of sand
is an empty work of art”. This sentiment from the film is symbolic
of Paradise, Hawaiian Style.
Come, Easy Go (1967), DVD5330, 91 minutes
some strange reason I've always quite liked this "quirky" Elvis
movie. I think it's the unusual mix of bikinis, eccentric characterisations
and boppy soundtrack.
Disc: I was very impressed with this disc. The print transfer
to DVD is first rate, crisp and clean, with good color saturation.
and Acting: The film narrative is much maligned and is actually
a lot better than critics suggested when it was originally released
in 1967. Elvis as a Navy frogman, a sunken treasure, pirates, girls
in bikinis…what more can one ask for? It may be paper thin but the
narrative moves along at a reasonably brisk and satisfying pace.
inclusion in the cast of oddball characters such as Captain Jack
and Madame Neherina provides a great comic touch while the plot
moves along at a nice pace. Both Frank McHugh and Elsa Lanchester
provide wonderfully rich interpretations of their eccentric characters.
With the exception of Ms Lanchester, the female cast is undistinguished,
although it must be said that Dodie Marshall sure fills out that
bikini well! In fact, the scenery, both natural and human, is very
appealing and the while the 1960s beatnik sub-plot is now dated,
it nevertheless provides some amusing moments throughout the film.
six musical numbers may not be the greatest material Elvis has ever
sung but most tracks have enough toe tapping energy to be very enjoyable.
Elvis undertakes his role in capable fashion and while Dodie Marshall
doesn't grab me, she is an attractive co-star. Pat Priest (of TV's
‘The Munsters’ fame) and her 'chip on the shoulder' boyfriend played
well by Skip Ward are a nice foil for Elvis and Dodie. Pat Harrington
is always effective in soft comedic roles and he did very well in
not only Easy Come, Easy Go, but also in Girl Happy. Production
Values: The underwater scenes are far too murky to be interesting
or effective. For the time they were filmed this is probably not
surprising. The weakest part of the film is the scenes very obviously
filmed in the studio with a video backdrop to simulate outdoor action.
Despite such diminishing production values, producer Hal Wallis
has still put enough into the film to make it believable.
& Soundtrack: Standard audio quality for a video to DVD transfer.
As this isn't Terminator 3, it is more than acceptable. Only six
songs on the soundtrack, but they're not a bad collection of up-tempo,
toe tappers. From the infectious beat of the title track and The
Love Machine, to Elsa Lanchester's "historical oddity" rendition
of Yoga Is As Yoga Does, the music certainly doesn't put you to
sleep, even it it's not the greatest ever composed.
Underrated narrative that progresses at a brisk pace with many humorous
scenes, oddball characters and attractive scenery. Musically, Easy
Come, Easy Go is very enjoyable and the disc is fine.
& Features: All four DVDs come with a basic set of "extras"
and "features". These are: