Trouble With Girls, The (1969)

“Stay away from the locals, kiddo. You’re the boss now — don’t forget that.”

Synopsis:
The manager (Elvis Presley) of a travelling Chautauqua show during the 1920s flirts with girls, sings a few songs, and manages various day-to-day concerns while helping to solve the mysterious murder of a local druggist (Dabney Coleman).

Genres:

Review:
Elvis Presley’s next-to-last film was, as Stuart Galbraith writes in his DVD Talk review, “not so much an Elvis movie as a movie with Elvis in it”. He accurately notes that the script is Altman-esque in its meandering focus on various subplots and quirky characters — such as a union-supporting children’s performer (Marlyn Mason) distressed about being asked to cast the mayor’s untalented child instead of the gifted daughter (Anissa Jones) and young friend (Pepe Brown) of a single mom (Sheree North) who’s been carrying on a troubled affair with a slimy pharmacist (Dabney Coleman). Speaking of ‘trouble’, the film’s title (huh?!) makes no sense other than as a false lure for Presley’s fans. North gives a memorable, sympathetic performance as a woman desperate for comfort and relief, but her dramatic role in the film’s final third is ultimately humiliating, and it’s hard to know what to make of the storyline overall.

Note: Watch for (underutilized) cameos by Vincent Price, John Carradine, and ringleted Susan Olson of “The Brady Bunch” fame.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Colorful historic sets

  • Jacques Marquette’s cinematography

Must See?
No; feel free to skip this one unless you’re a Presley completist.

Links:

One Response to “Trouble With Girls, The (1969)”

  1. First viewing. For Presley fans only.

    It’s true that the script has an Altman-esque feel to it, esp. in the beginning. In fact, it seems to take a good half-hour until the meandering Altman tone wears off and we start to realize who’s who and what’s going on. ~which, actually, is sort of fitting, I guess, for a film about a traveling show. (It’s at that point that Vincent Price enters – to eventually perform his ‘act’ as orator ‘Mr. Morality’. It’s a small part but it’s nice to see Vincent.)

    It’s not much of a movie, even if it’s a sort-of change of pace (though nothing of a stretch) for Elvis.

    Something unexpected tilt’s the film’s tone after the midway point, which heightens the precarious nature of traveling players. But, as was true of the film in general up to that point, it’s an odd little flick no matter how you look at it.

    Near the end, Elvis (who gets to sing a few tunes) is particularly effective when singing the thematically pungent ‘Clean Up Your Own Back Yard’ and he seems to be enjoying that number a lot.

    Among the cameos is also Joyce Van Patten as a champion, long-distance swimmer. She’s mildly amusing and throws herself fully into her bit.

    Director Peter Tewksbury tries to keep things lively overall (as he did with ‘Sunday in New York’) but the script does often show that it’s thin. And, yes, that title! It’s misleading and it’s easy to expect a beach party movie.

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