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Elvis Presley was not a bad actor. I've seen him do competent jobs in several films and he had a very likable screen persona. However, despite his box office appeal, he seemed willing to star in some of the slightest and silliest films of the 1960s. Some of the films have a bit more depth to them though most are just familiar mindless drivel--like SPINOUT. Harry Medved listed it among the movies in his "Fifty Worst Movies" book, though it isn't that bad--though it certainly wasn't very good either.
In SPINOUT, we find Elvis as a struggling rock 'n roll star AND champion race car driver! If only he were a scientist, too, and he'd be Buckaroo Bonzai (see THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BONZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION). Unlike the real life Elvis, his character shuns glamor and glitz and travels with his three musicians--camping out and living a bohemian life while STILL managing to have clean clothes, multiple wardrobes, gourmet meals, a race car and a 1929 Duesenberg! Their "camping out" was pure hooey and the camp sites bore an amazing similarity to the sound stage.
Well, because he can sing and drive fast cars and is Elvis, it's not surprising that he's pursued by some hot ladies. What makes this different from some of his movies is that three different (and very clichéd) ladies all want to marry him and he wants nothing to do with this. One is the rich "princess" played by Shelly Fabares. In an interesting casting nod, her father is played by Carl Betz--the same guy who played her father in "The Donna Reed Show". The second is a pretty but rather cold writer played by Diane McBain. The third is a "kooky" girl played by Deborah Walley. All three are very, very broad stereotypes and probably the worst of these was the role given to Ms. Walley. That's because she was supposed to be part comic relief, musician, gourmet chef and vamp--though no one seemed to realize she was a hot and happenin' chick until late in the film (what, were they all blind?!?). Considering how beautiful these ladies were in the film AND how much Elvis avoided them and preferred to hang out with the guys, I really think some might watch this film and wonder if his character was supposed to be gay. I particularly wondered about the two guys in his band.
I could say more about the plot, but frankly it all was too trivial and silly to mention in detail, though it was occasionally accidentally entertaining. However, what was not entertaining were the many songs Elvis sang as well as the "kooky" race at the end of the film. As for the songs, Elvis does have a lovely voice but every one of the 1,893 songs he sings in the film is completely forgettable and insipid. None have decent lyrics or are memorable in any positive way. I would have preferred if he'd just sung a few of his old familiar favorites. Instead, it often just seemed like padding. The race at the end of the film was a major letdown as well. While auto races can be exciting, having it be comedic really didn't work well at all and having a complete and total idiot nearly win a professional auto race strained credibility to new lows. It was just embarrassing and tended to bring the whole production to a grinding halt--yet it was intended as the highlight of the film! So what's to like about the film? Well, Elvis is pleasant in a plastic sort of way and the ladies quite lovely (particularly the radiant Ms. Fabares) and it was nice to see Una Merkel, Cecil Kellaway and a 1929 Duesenberg. Otherwise, there isn't much to recommend this dull little film. Overall, a mindless and harmless sort of film--mostly of interest to Elvis worshipers. Any one else would be bored by it.
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