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|Index||34 reviews in total|
Elvis returns, this time he is slightly weathered, quite a bit more lethargic, and desperate to escape his captors. But, his captors are not the oil paint smeared Arabs, nor the fairly innocuous women that surround him. His captors are much bigger than one motion picture could possibly describe. They are the entire industry he has found himself immersed in. They are the money-hungry culture vultures that readily devour a popular figure like him until he is but a bloated pasty corpse. This film shows them as they are through their sinister machinations. They can be seen with invisible marionette string as they force Elvis to march around in costume, as they prod him with sharp knives into doing little lackluster dances that turn into morose forced marches across the barren tundra of his once mighty career. This is not the Elvis of folklore, nor is it the Elvis that will return one day and save us from mediocrity. This is the dry Elvis, milked fully, udders raw, yet ever sedated. The Elvis that might have died on the screen in front of your eyes and you might have not even noticed it. Don't let the bright lights and forced smile fool you. It is your duty to lament this vision before you, because it is an ugly one.
Colonel Tom Parker who usually took great care in the movie properties
acquired for Elvis Presley must have cringed with the lemon he got
Elvis stuck in here. IMDb says that Colonel Tom thought that Harum
Scarum might have needed a talking camel so that there would be no
question this was a comedy. Obviously the Colonel had the Road to
Morocco in mind. But I'll go one better. Elvis the singer may have
needed a comedian along with him, like Bob Hope.
Back when the Road to Morocco was made it was satirizing those sword and sandal desert epics that were popular back in the day. Usually those were about some mythical kingdom. We don't have mythical kingdoms any more, they're not in vogue in Hollywood. Poor Elvis was stuck in genre that was way out of date.
Also I don't think anyone had any doubt that when they went to see the Road to Morocco they were seeing a comedy. The gags here just fall flat. Now I doubt Elvis could have gotten Bob Hope, but a comedian of Elvis's generation to co-star might have brought off the comedy, but only might have.
Elvis is in good voice, but none of the songs from here are especially memorable. Certainly not like Jailhouse Rock or Blue Hawaii.
Harum Scarum belongs at the bottom of Elvis's movie credits. Only devoted fans of the King will like this and maybe not even them.
Widely considered to be Elvis' dumbest movie ever and the source of many prime gags in Top Secret, Harum Scarum is worth watching only for those Elvis fans interested in answering the question of what went wrong with his movie career. The answer was quite simply that, to Colonel Parker, Elvis was a carnival concession. He was getting million dollar offers to keep at the same old formula junk and since he had no idea how good movies were made he kept agreeing to the deals while the money was there. Harum Scarum shows the formula at its most derivative. Elvis himself looked bored and distracted at times on screen and even messed up some of his lip synching! The songs are strictly for the Pat Boone set and badly out of date before the movie even came out. At a time of rapid change and great excitement in the music world (the Beatles made HELP around the same time) the music in Elvis' movies did not evolve or change, it just got recycled. The sets are also retreads, studio back lot leftovers from earlier better movies which look about as authentically middle eastern as a Moroccan restaurant in Brentwood. The costumes are a bad joke, and look like I Dream of Jeannie cast-offs. Elvis himself spends most of the movie looking foolish (and a bit like a Popsicle) in lime green pants. Add in a ridiculously predictable hand-me-down story about intrigue in the palace of the sultan and a few unfunny minor characters, and there is not much to like here, even for die hard Elvis fans. Even Elvis haters looking for a cheap laugh will find themselves bored by this exercise.
It's very easy to dismiss an Elvis flick with a goofy title like HARUM
SCARUM just by hearing it. But I was actually rather surprised by this
colorful and unconventional Presley romp. It turned out pretty good for
a Presley knock-off, despite the hokum.
Taking Elvis into the odd world of the Middle East is in itself a fresh change of space considering the formulaic nature of his films. It's not high art by any stretch of the imagination, but it's fun. And leading ladies Mary Ann Mobley and Fran Jeffries are gorgeous to behold.
None of the songs are very strong, but there are plenty of them to go around this time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
About in an hour into this mid-60's Arabian Nights dreck, there's a
moment when Elvis sings the above-referenced song. In this subtle
though not well-staged, two-minute scene (Elvis sits motionless and
cross-armed by a prison barred window), the song's lyrics sadly reveal
what poor Elvis truly must have felt personally regarding his
nose-diving professional acting career. He was still a strong top box
office draw (So Close), but he had somehow become and remained mired in
below even below-average DRECK like this movie (Yet So Far) after the
fact that the decade had already produced "Help!" and "A Hard Day's
Night." Some IMDb reviewers blame Col. Parker and the
evil-Elvis-inner-circle, but I think the blame rests with Mr. Presley
a truly American tragic figure who should have courageously
asserted himself and said "No more!" even if it meant buying out his
movie contracts and firing losers like Col. Parker.
As for the rest of the film, TERRIBLE! It has "why bother?" karma (emanating from behind and in-front of the camera) that hangs over the entire production. It begins with a cheesy horrible opening credits then continues w/ Ansara's repetitive "Karnac the Magnificent"-like hand gestures in every scene he's in, then onto Ms. Jeffries wearing a black body-hugging kittenish outfit (w/ matching white scarf) that makes her acting and looking like she's auditioning for Catwoman on "Batman" instead of performing in "Harum Scarum", and then this dreck ends with a Vegas-casino musical number TOTALLY out of place with the previous hour-and-a-half Middle East-based "storyline."
Earlier on, there's one jaw-dropping musical number scene that's borderline soft-kiddie porn when Presley (wearing really gay green pants that don't hide the bulge in his crotch) sings to little orphan girl Malkin a song clearly meant for an adult woman w/ lyrics like "I want you for my very own" and "I want to take you home with me." Presley watches as his pre-teen firecrotch (with slits in her dress that are WAIST-HIGH) gyrates faux-seductively. It's a really LAUGH-INDUCING, inappropriate, wildly politically-incorrect musical number.
Harum Scarum is an unusual Presley vehicle set in the the mid-east with
a special blend of the 1960's and some typical Presley music. As with
most Presley movie's of that era, this movie lacks a good theme and
script but Presley does manage to pull out some of his best music.
Presley has been kidnapped but manages to escape his takers, sing to everyone along the way and finds safety in the arms of Mary Ann Mobley.
This Presley outing is based in an unusual area but typical for Presley in script. Presley obviously appears to be in this movie only because he is under contract and unfortunately, it lacks supporting actors/ actresses that could have helped pull the movie out.
Not the best attempt in scripts but then if Presley had been given good material to work with things may have been different in his movie career.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am an amateur Elvis impersonator and a big time fan. Judging by the
remarks, I am in the minority regarding a positive feeling about this
film. I agree, King Creole was probably Elvis' best dramatic role but
Flaming Star, Kid Galahad and Jail House Rock were good also.
I believe E was offered roles in West Side Story and other big name movies from the 60's but the Colonel put the kibosh on all of them.
I can't agree with everything the Colonel did for E but he did make him rich and famous. Considering E was a truck driver from Tupelo, he did bring him a long way, probably more than Sam Phillips (a good man with few contacts) could have done. One thing about the Colonel, and this is just my opinion as controversial as it may be, I believe he was right about the movies that E was doing. Many of them were fairly predictable; beautiful ladies, lots of songs, pretty scenery and plots that did not strain the brain. People who went to the theaters back in the 60's to see these movies wanted this special mix. The bottom line is, it amounted to 90 minutes of light comedy escapism. Relax, have some popcorn, drink a coke, watch the King and forget your troubles for awhile.
Everyone knew the Colonel had E in a box and he felt stymied and bored at times and unfortunately it showed in some of these movies. But through it all, there was always that kind, award winning smile, the music and he did the best he could delivering his lines convincingly.
I know many of his movies were a recycle job, from a race car driver to a speed boat racer. But they were still fun to watch, at least for me. I am really not sure if people wanted a steady diet of serious or dramatic films . He had the talent for it but I'm not too sure about the market or audience. Everyone can decide that for themselves.
H.S. had a plausible script. The costumes were colorful, plenty of good looking ladies, one of his few films that incorporated karate moves, some good songs and the sets came out of storage from the 1925 Cecil B. DeMille production of King of Kings. I have it from a video pack and watch it from time to time when I just want to chill and have something fun (adventure and comedy) to watch. Again, for me, it's a good choice.
Lastly, I want to comment about a scene that seems to have drawn a lot of attention, the dance by the young girl. Maybe it's just me but I don't see the pedophile or pornographic connotation that some people alluded to. As the story goes, the young girl and her brother were orphans being reared by a dance troupe (3 women and one man) that traveled around trying to earn a living. The little I know of Arabian dancing, it does seem to have a sensual element to it. So what did you want her to do? The twist, tango or moon walk? Let's keep it in context and not magnify it into another Herod and Salome routine. Elvis acted as a father figure to her and he did nothing that could be construed as inappropriate.
Enough said. Elvis, God rest your soul, we miss you man.
This movie is one of my favorite Elvis Presley movies. This movie is about a
famous karate chopping actor in the United States. Assassins from a Middle
Eastern country see how skilled he is with his hands and they kidnap him.
When he arrives in their foreign land he learns he has been brought there to
kill their king. Along the way he even meets and falls for the king's
I very much disagree with the negative reviews about this movie. This movie has very good action and music. Songs include; Go East Young Man, Shake That Tambourine, So Close Yet So Far, Harum Holiday and much more. This movie won't disappoint you and it will most definitely not disappoint Elvis Presley fans like myself.
Honestly, how could anyone say that they liked this film? How could
anyone say that most of the songs were even vaguely acceptable? Whilst
the Beatles were doing "Help" Elvis was doing this! I watch this film
with a profound sense of despair for the thrilling rock and roller who
was turned into a bland automaton - from Heartbreak Hotel to pap. From
a young firebrand to a pantomime character in lime green baggy pants.
Colonel Parker knew he had a cash cow that would provide milk
irrespective of the quality of the film or the music. Harum Scarum is
incontrovertible proof that Parker had no respect for Elvis the person
or the artist.
Strangely, this film provided Elvis with two female co-stars who had genuine star quality - Fran Jeffries and Mary Ann Mobley. Only Ann Margret in Viva Las Vegas gave him the sexual competition that Fran and Ann provided. Without them, this film would have been utterly devoid of class. If only Fran Jeffries had been provided with a few dance routines, the film may have had a redeeming feature.
Lastly, I am always struck by the fact that this impossibly handsome and healthy man would within a few years become a bloated parody of himself. Where did he go? Were films like Harum Scarum a sinister foreshadowing of a lost personality or am I reading too much into it? Did I really discern hints of self-loathing in his performance in this film? Had the Elvis who had always wanted to be movie star and who admired James Dean finally realized that his mentor and promoter had sold his dream for a handful of gold? Was Elvis the loneliest man on Earth? He certainly looked like it in this film.
The unfortunately titled Harum Scarum is not how it sounds! With a name like that, you could either expect a screwball comedy, or maybe a Hope And Crosby styled road movie. No to both. It is a middle Eastern dramatic comedy, sort of 1001 Arabian Nights or Sheherezade thing happening, or tries to be, anyway. Elvis plays a movie star kidnapped by the Prince of Assassins to kill the King of some ancient looking Arabic nation with a fifteen letter, unpronounceable name. But he's Elvis and this is an Elvis movie, so you do NOT think he will do it. Production values do not exist in this movie, and a scene in the desert looks like a soundstage with a couple tents. They didn't bother with Believability here. The story is reasonably fun, some interesting musical sequences. Shake That Tambourine! That is what they used to do before the cowbell became all the rage, before More Cowbell! A missed opportunity, the film could have been really great if they put more thought into the script and story line. I thought it was fun anyway, but that's just me. It is still nice to know that The King never has a bad hair day, even in the desert.
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