DVD Reviews:

Girls! Girls! Girls!
Fun In Acapulco
Paradise, Hawaiian Style
Easy Come, Easy Go

New Australian (Region 4) DVD's:

"Enjoyable Addition to Your DVD Library"

Reviewed by Nigel Patterson (August 21, 2003)

Paramount Home Entertainment recently released four new Elvis DVDs in Australia:

  • Girls! Girls! Girls!
  • Fun In Acapulco
  • Paradise, Hawaiian Style
  • Easy Come, Easy Go

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! Girls! (1962), DVD5332, Running Time: 95 minutes

Girls! Girls! Girls! is one of the stronger Elvis travelogues, benefiting from being filmed before the slide in production values in Elvis films became apparent.

The 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.

Plot 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.

Jeremy 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.

Editing: 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!

Audio & 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 highlight.

Verdict: (girls) An enjoyable (girls) way to spend 95 (girls) minutes!

Fun In Acapulco (1963); DVD5331, Running time: 93 minutes

While 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.

Plot 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."

The Disc: The straight video to DVD transfer (no remastering!) is clear and displays rich color.

Audio & 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.

Verdict: With it’s vibrant scenery, rich color and some great Latino flavored music, it is easy to lose yourself in Acapulco!

Paradise, 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.

Plot 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.

The 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.

Audio & 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.

Verdict: 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.

Easy Come, Easy Go (1967), DVD5330, 91 minutes

For 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.

The Disc: I was very impressed with this disc. The print transfer to DVD is first rate, crisp and clean, with good color saturation.

Plot 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.

The 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.

The 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.

Audio & 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.

Verdict: 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.

Extras & Features: All four DVDs come with a basic set of "extras" and "features". These are:

  • Language selection: restored English mono; French, German, Italian, Spanish (note: Easy Come, Easy Go does not include the Spanish language option)
  • Subtitles in up to 24 languages and
  • English for the hearing impaired
  • Disc: color picture disc; dual layer
  • Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

What the 4 DVD's lack! - All four releases from Paramount would have benefited greatly from:

  • digital re-mastering
  • improved editing between scenes
  • the addition of "value-added" extras such as deleted scenes, movie trailer, audio commentaries and a stills gallery

© EIN 2003

Click to comment on this review