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Elvis Presley spent most of the 1960s making fluffy lightweight
romantic comedies with music, all constructed on a studio assembly line
during the waning days of the old Hollywood studio system. These films
tended to sap Elvis of the energy he could have devoted to better films
and better roles, all of which he was capable of. Having said that,
some of these films were more tolerable than others.
SPINOUT, made at MGM, is one of the most entertaining thanks to its teaming of Elvis with three colorful and delightful leading ladies, all of whom more than hold their own with their charismatic leading man. Deborah Walley plays the tomboyish redhead drummer in Elvis' band and has a secret crush on him; Diane McBain plays a sexually voracious best-selling author on the hunt for the perfect American male; and Shelley Fabares plays the heiress of an auto fortune who thinks she's entitled to whatever she wants and whose father wants Elvis to race a car for him. In the course of it, Elvis encounters rivals for each of the girl's affections, leading to a set of romantic entanglements that are ultimately resolved in an inspired and original ending. The plot is packed with lots of clever twists, thanks to a script co-written by Theodore J. Flicker who would write and direct the cult hit, THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST, the following year. Fortunately, the film's racing angle is downplayed in favor of comic situations and a set of enjoyable songs.
The supporting players deserve singling out, including Jack Mullaney as Elvis' comical bandmate; Carl Betz as Shelley's father (a role he played with Shelley on "The Donna Reed Show" as well); Warren Berlinger as Betz's loyal assistant; TV cowboy Will Hutchins as a highway cop with a penchant for gourmet cooking; and Hollywood veterans Cecil Kellaway and Una Merkel as an elderly rich couple who allow Elvis and his band to take over their house when they go on vacation. (This latter touch is representative of the film's Hollywood fantasyland approach to life, but it's all so well played by such skilled hands that it's difficult not to get sucked into the fun of it all.)
This movie was released in a year that wasn't a particularly good one for Elvis Presley but it's still, in my opinion, an excellent film. I like it because I think it has some very funny moments and an awesome movie sound track. Very much enjoyed from start to finish.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A bevy of game females, sharing chemistry with The King, give this potentially ordinary film a boost. Presley plays the lead singer of a band that includes Hawkins, Mullaney and girl drummer Walley. When millionaire Betz decides he wishes Presley to not only sing for his daughter Fabares' birthday, but also to drive his car in an upcoming race, a battle of wills begins which results in Presley living next door to Betz and playing cat and mouse with him and his daughter. Meanwhile, Walley nurses a crush on Presley and seductive researcher and authoress McBain decides that, she, too, must have Presley as a mate! In between Presley's juggling of the ladies, he sings his usual retinue of songs, though in this case they tend to be livelier and more engaging than in some of his lesser screen efforts. At this stage in his career, Presley was on a cinematic treadmill, churning out movie after movie, many times with middling results. Here, he is fortunate to be working with charismatic people instead of unseasoned starlets as he was sometimes paired with. Fabares does a good job as the spoiled, but caring, socialite. Walley hams it up and overacts as the tomboyish drummer, but at least has pizazz and energy. McBain is sultry and lovely, portraying her rather voracious character with a wink and a sparkle. Betz (who had played Fabares father in a far different way for years on "The Donna Reed Show") isn't particularly challenged in his role, but lends solid support. Former child actor Hawkins and Mullaney's comedic contributions are a matter of taste. Also in the cast are Berlinger, as a weak-kneed associate of Betz's, and Hutchins, as a policeman who spends his spare time cooking gourmet food. Appearing briefly as a couple who leave their home in Presley's care are film veterans Kellaway and Merkel. It's almost never believable, but that isn't the point. It's just frothy, colorful, tuneful fluff that's stacked with entertainingly mod hairdos and clothes with hip-swinging "teens" flailing away at any opportunity. One peculiar set piece includes a campsite and meal preparation that predates "The Young Girls of Rochefort" and has Presley & Co. moving in choreographed synchronization to the music as they set up the tents, table and food. Former Warner Brothers contractees Hutchins and McBain (who had starred together in "Claudelle Inglish") don't really share any scenes here. Fabares made three Elvis films in all.
Elvis Presley plays Mike McCoy, the leader of a small time combo on the road. Millionaire Howard Foxhugh played by Carl Betz wants McCoy to sing solo for his daughter's birthday. Daughter Cynthia is aptly played by Shelley Fabares. Entering the plot further, Foxhugh wants the singer to drive his new race car in an up and coming race. Deborah Walley plays the drummer in the combo and has a mad crush for her boss. Diane McBain plays an author looking for a subject for her next book; guess who? Auto racing, light comedy and plenty of music helps McCoy dodge the girls. Highlights from the soundtrack are "I'll Be Back", "All That I Am" and the title tune. This one made an Elvis movie fun again. Also in the cast are Will Hutchins, Dodie Marshall and Jimmy Hawkins.
This is not one of Elvis' best or most memorable films, but it is pretty
good. For one thing, we get to see Elvis in his most suitable film role, as
a racecar driver caught up with multiple ladies (seen that before? You
have, but it's all good). Walley is great as his tomboyish drummer who
hides her crush from him but ends up falling convincingly for policeman
Hutchins. Fabares is always a good match for Elvis, and here as a scheming
heiress she is virtually his film nemesis. The songs are generally poor,
but there are a few highlights.
All in all, your basic Elvis movie, not harmful to the brain cells but certainly providing as little stimulation as possible to the nerves.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of my favorite Elvis films because of the humor, the cast, and the music. Elvis plays Mike Mccoy, a singer and race car driver. it also includes Jimmy Hawkins(my favorite male Elvis co-star), Jack Mullaney(comic relief) and Deborah Walley. They all do a nice job playing off Elvis. Shelley Fabares is one of the three women after Elvis in the film. She plays the spoiled rich girl Cynthia beautifully, and she has never looked prettier on film than she does here. Her father is played by Carl Betz, who as many know, played her father on the Donna Reed show for five years. He also does a great job trying to get Elvis to drive his car, but keep him away from his daughter. Warren Berlinger also plays a great comic relief role as Philip, who really likes Cynthia. Will Hutchins is very funny as the cop who tries to run Elvis and crew out of town. He would later star with Elvis in Clambake. Adding a nice touch to the film as well is Una Merkel and Cecil Kellaway. They play an elderly couple that Elvis meet and convinces them to let him and his band watch their house as they take a vacation in his car. The songs are wonderful. I especially love Spinout, Smorgasbord, Adam and Evil and the great I'll Be Back, sung at the end. All in all, a very entertaining film that has a good feel and good flow to it.
Spinout is somewhere in the middle of the pack of the Elvis Presley
cinema output. It's an amiable comedy with the King about a singer with
a group who is a celebrity racer. Along the lines of Paul Newman before
and Tom Cruise afterwards. I don't include Steve McQueen because that
man was serious about the sport and had he entered it earlier might
have had that as a career.
Anyway Elvis is the target of three women with matrimony on their minds. Rich girl Shelley Fabares, Jacqueline Susann like author Diane McBain, and the drummer in the King's own group, Deborah Walley who is a gourmet cook on the side.
As usual Colonel Tom Parker got quality help for his boy behind and in front of the camera. Norman Taurog ended his career directing a series of Presley pictures and this is one of them. Such movie veterans as Frederic Worlock and Cecil Kellaway have small roles and this is the farewell big screen appearance of Una Merkel. Also in the cast is Carl Betz once again playing Shelley Fabares father as he did on the Donna Reed Show. Will Hutchins, television's Sugarfoot is also around as a policeman who appreciates good cooking and Jack Mullaney and Jimmy Hawkins are the other members of Elvis's group. Note that they play electric guitars or simulate playing them while Elvis sticks with a regular model.
Of course Spinout ends with the Big Race and I don't think I have to tell you who wins, but the race itself is 3/4 of the fun. No big songs came out of the score for Elvis, but he acquits himself in the vocal and comedy department. Spinout should please his fans.
This wasn't shown in time for the 30th anniversary from Elvis Presley's
passing, but it did turn up on TCM UK some time later; still, it took
me this long to watch and, as a matter of fact, only opted to check the
film out alongside two contemporary vehicles by fellow singers Frank
Sinatra and Dean Martin – that said, it can't really compare with them!
It's the second of three Presley titles with a racing milieu, though this element isn't as much to the fore here as in the others; conveniently, he doubles as a swooning singer/guitarist with a band – and most of the running-time sees him dodging a couple of marriage proposals from eminent figures in the community! It transpires that even the tomboyish female drummer in his outfit secretly pines for him…but, given the film's jejeune nature, everything is neatly sorted out by the end – as a writer researching The Perfect Male eventually hitches up with Presley's proposed racing employer (played by a U.S. TV stalwart who was completely unknown to me but is a real dead ringer for Darren McGavin!), the latter's young daughter (Shelley Fabares, from the star's earlier vehicle GIRL HAPPY ) realizes she loves her father's goofy secretary after all, and the drummer (who's something of a gourmet) finds a like-minded soulmate in, of all things, a highway policeman! Not that it matters much given their thankless roles but two veteran character actors from Hollywood's Golden Age - Cecil Kellaway and Una Merkel - also appear in this film.
The songs aren't exactly memorable either and, while the film's certainly harmless in itself, it's also not engaging enough to warrant more than a cursory viewing (I, for one, was greatly surprised to learn that it was co-scripted by Theodore J. Flicker – who, soon after, would write and direct the cult political satire THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST  with James Coburn)…
Everyone says Elvis made poor movies. Many people (like myself) who
have never bothered to watch them through.
Yes, it is true that many of these movies would never have been made (or watched) if Elvis wasn't in them. It is also true that Elvis made these movies for money.
So what? Some of Shakespeares' plays like "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" or "The Merry Wives of Windsor" have not been seen as the finest in Englsh playwriting. It is quite likely that had someone else wrote them, they would have been long forgotten. As well, do you think Shakespeare wrote for his health? Elvis' movies may not have been Oscar material, but many of them, including "Spinout" are a nice escape from reality. We need this time to time. The songs are good, at work I think about them time-to-time, and the movies are fun. "Spinout" is a nice escape from reality.
One thing; I bought some Elvis DVDs, including "Spinout", and after watching them, I donated them to my library. Now, others can see them. Just a thought.
A sad note. Elvis sings "I'll Be Back". Sadly, most of us just have his songs, movies, and other such memories.
When I visited Las Vegas in 2004, I visited the Auto Collection" at the "Imperial Palace". I saw the Duesenberg that Evis used in "Spinout". It might still be there.
Elvis juggles a career as singer/race car driver in this typical but
harmless '60s Presley vehicle. Looking more pudgy than usual, he is an
unmarrying kind of guy contending with the attentions of three
Shelley Fabares is one delicious cutie I could stare at all day long, and Diane McBain exudes sophisticated beauty. But putting up with the over-animated antics of Deborah Walley as Presley's jealous tomboy drummer wears on my nerves.
This one's got a ton of Elvis songs, none of which are great but range from pretty good ("Spinout" "All That I Am") to unbearable ("Beach Shack", "Smorgasbord").
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