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A traveling chautauqua show. an educational and entertainment troupe, pitch their tents in a small American town with an ensemble of speakers, lecturers, teachers, musicians, and actors as manager Walter Hale must deal with a myriad of problems, including small town prejudice and politics, nepotism, union problems, and a murder. Written by
Gabe Taverney (firstname.lastname@example.org)
While, as some of you may know, I recently went through a marathon of Elvis Presley movies (in tribute to the 30th anniversary of his passing) and which emerged to be a more pleasant experience than I had anticipated I have to admit that I opted to check this one out mainly for the presence in it of Vincent Price. As it turned out, his role is quite brief and he doesn't even share any screen-time with Elvis!!
Incidentally, this has to be Presley's most eccentric vehicle: it combines the period setting of the star's own FRANKIE AND JOHNNY (1966) with the carnival backdrop of his ROUSTABOUT (1964); however, he seems quite lost here (this was, in fact, Elvis' penultimate film) in which he's given just one typical number ("Clean Up Your Own Back Yard") and where his hair-do and trademark stage moves clash with the feel of quaint Americana the narrative is striving for! Otherwise, the film features annoyingly flashy direction, while the traits of the supporting characters range from the obnoxious (the cardsharp and the villainous store owner) to the embarrassing (Joyce Van Patten reminiscing about her past as a champion swimmer and Sheree North's bout with drunkenness).
Besides, the songs are below-par (most don't even involve the star) and the title itself terrible (apparently, the people who made it didn't quite know how to sell their own product!) even if we do get three prominent female roles: Marlyn Mason (whose shop steward/piano player/instructor character seems to have been modeled on Doris Day's role in THE PAJAMA GAME ), Nicole Jaffe as the requisite ditzy blonde, and the afore-mentioned North as a 'loose' woman (a single mother who murders the married sleazeball who relentlessly pesters her). Also featured in the cast are Edward Andrews as the long-suffering managing director of Presley's traveling show and John Carradine, criminally underused in a blink-and-you'll miss-him bit as a Shakespearean actor (whose incongruity reminds one of Alan Mowbray's memorable similar turn in John Ford's MY DARLING CLEMENTINE ).
As for Vincent Price, he appears as "Mr. Morality", a philosophy-quoting orator who's another specialty performer of the troupe; having watched him in this film, I was reminded of two more of the horror icon's non-genre performances (both of them Westerns, incidentally) which are available for rental on DVD in my neck of the woods THE JACKALS (1967) and MORE DEAD THAN ALIVE (1968).
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