How out of touch was Elvis in the sixties?  The week the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the king put forth the soundtrack to “Double Trouble”.  What was once a sure thing (four of his first eleven soundtrack albums reached #1 and all found their way into the top ten) was beginning to hit the skids: “Spinout” (#18) would be the last album to reach the top 30 and the others would fade without a whimper.  Meanwhile, the charts was owned by the likes of the Monkees, Jefferson Airplane, the Doors, and even the Association.  Elvis was getting trounced by THE ASSOCIATION.

 

“Double Trouble”- May 24, 1967. 

Gross- $1.6 (according to Variety), the 60th highest-grossing film of the year according to ultimatemovierankings.com, $30.1 million adjusted for inflation.  

IMDB Rating: 5.3 out of 10.

Rotten Tomatoes- 53% Audience Score. 

Role: Guy Lambert, an American singer who crosses paths with criminals in Europe.  Did we mention he sings? 

This is where Elvis revitalizes his movie career by starring in a spy film where he plays a double agent in Berlin with shooting on location.  No?  Instead, he’s an entertainer who crosses paths with an elegant lady who might be up to something.  Strangers wear fedoras and overcoats throughout the film and there’s a love interest whose uncle may be trying to kill Guy.  There’s also a tall mute man who smiles.  Bring on the bumbling jewel thieves, songs, and get me to the closing credits.

Who’s That Guy?  John Williams (“Gerald Waverly”) appeared in everything from “Dial M for Murder” to “Sabrina” to “To Catch a Thief”.  Michael Murphy (“Morley”) appeared in “Nashville”, “Manhattan”, and “Tanner 88”.

You’ll Be Humming- “Long Legged Girl” was released as a single and promptly struggled to #63 the week that “Respect” was #1.  “Long Legged Girl” was overtaken that week by #61 “Light My Fire” which was blazing its way to the top.

Worth It? Read a book. 

 

“Clambake”– March 22, 1967.

Gross- $16.9 million adjusted for inflation, according to ultimatemovierankings.com, the 89th highest-grossing film of the year. 

IMDB Rating: 5.7 out of 10.

Rotten Tomatoes- 62% Audience Score. 

Role: Scott Hayward, the heir to an oil fortune who poses as a water-skiing instructor.  You better believe he sings. 

I’m not saying Mark Twain was turning over in his grave, but this version of “The Prince and the Pauper” saw Presley as Scott swap places with Will Hutchins’ “Tom Wilson” (Hutchins plays a police officer in “Spinout).  He switches his Corvette Stingray for a a motorcycle and takes Wilson’s job as a water skiing instructor.  There he meets hotel guest “Dianne Carter” (Shelley Fabares) who’s better at water skiing than she lets on.  Dianne has her sights on the wealthy young James J. Jamison III, and Scott tries to help her land J.J.J. while falling for her himself (major surprise plot twist here).

For a movie set in Florida, it was interesting to see the sun setting in the west with mountains close to the beach.  Not to mention oil wells in Florida.

J.J.J. has won the annual Orange Bowl race three years running, so naturally Scott is going to challenge the rival for Dianne’s affections.  Using “goop”, an experimental coating developed by one of his father’s companies, Scott is able to rebuild the boat. Would he win the race?  Would he win Dianne’s heart?  Would he get a decent song to perform?  Sorry, “Do the Clam” was taken for the “Girl Happy Soundtrack”.

Who’s That Girl/Guy?  Shelley Fabares is back for her third turn in an Elvis film, while Bill Bixby (“My Favorite Martian”, “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father”, “The Incredible Hulk”) plays James J. Jamison III. 

You’ll Be Humming- “The Girl I Never Loved” is heartfelt and one thinks Elvis was in a way singing about the scripts and projects he never made instead of this dreck.  Or he was thinking about his next peanut butter and banana sandwich.

Worth It?  Let’s keep the boat at the dock.  Elvis got $1 million to appear in this?

The summer of 1966 saw The Beatles tour for the final time, just like Elvis had retreated from appearing in public a few years prior.  But that’s where the similarities would end; instead of churning out three films per year, the Fab Four retreated to the studios and produced landmark albums like Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and “The White Album” over the next three years.  Elvis during this time was going through a drought on the charts, with just one top 20 hit in 1966 (“Love Letters” reaching #19).  But he was still making a killing on his fees for appearing in films ($750,000 + 40% of the profits for “Spinout”).  The slow creative descent continues.

 

“Spinout”- October 17, 1966. 

Gross- $3 (according to Variety), the 47th highest-grossing film of the year according to ultimatemovierankings.com, $49.4 million adjusted for inflation.  

IMDB Rating: 5.9 out of 10.

Rotten Tomatoes- 49% Audience Score. 

Role: Mike McCoy (the third time he’s had the name Mike), a part-time race car driver who also fronts a band. 

Elvis doesn’t always get the girl-but this time he finds a way not to get three different girls at the end.  “Mike” is being chased by spoiled heiress “Cynthia Foxhugh” (Shelley Fabares), author “Diana St. Clair” (Diane McBain), and the drummer in his band “Les” (Deborah Walley).  Mike just wants to enjoy his carefree life of racing cars and singing.  Fortunately while winning a race, he sets each woman up with suitors.

Who’s That Girl/Guy?  One generation knows Shelley Fabares from “The Donna Reed Show”, another know her from “Coach”. Carl Betz plays her father in this film after doing so on the “Donna Reed Show”.

You’ll Be Humming- “Never Say Yes” captures Mike’s attitude perfectly.

Worth It? Other Elvis films have had better car races, spoiled girls, tomboys, and pool scenes. Put the viewing car in reverse on this one.

 

“Easy Come, Easy Go”– March 22, 1967.

Gross- $1.95 million (according to Variety), the 52nd highest-grossing film of the year according to ultimatemovierankings.com, $36.2 million adjusted for inflation.  

IMDB Rating: 5.3 out of 10.

Rotten Tomatoes- 37% Audience Score. 

Role: Lt. Ted Jackson, a Navy frogman who can also croak a decent tune. 

During his final days in the Navy, “Lt. Jackson” is de-activating mines off the coast while discovering part of a sunken ship.  Once out of the service, Ted plans to get the loot with his former nightclub partner “Judd Whitman” (Pat Harrington Jr.).  He also has to deal with a go-go dancer/bohemian who may have the key to the treasure, a rich girl with a boat and her semi-boyfriend who want to take it, and a former kiddie TV show captain who is naturally scared of the water.  There’s spaghetti and paint art plus a guy who turns cars into mobiles.  What more could you want?

Who’s That Girl/Guy?  Future super on “One Day at a Time” Pat Harrington Jr. plays the beatnik buddy and the rich girl with a boat is played by Pat Priest from “The Munsters”.  Elsa Lanchester (from “Bride of Frankenstein”) portrays a yoga instructor who sings.

You’ll Be Humming- “I’ll Take Love” is the finale and it sends you out of the theater in good spirits. Showcasing either musical versatility or ADD, during the song Elvis plays the bass, maracas and tambourine in succession.  There’s also a song “Yoga is as Yoga Does” that’s beyond putrid.  You’ll be floored at how bad it is.

Worth It?  Perhaps it’s the underwater scenes that make me think of James Bond in “Thunderball”. Perhaps it’s actress Dodie Marshall shining with spunk as Elvis’ romantic interest. “Pound for pound and ounce for ounce, love is all that really counts”.  And despite all that’s lame about this film, I have a soft spot in my heart for it.

No matter what happens over the next month and change, the 2020 Nationals season took a major turn over this past weekend when pitcher Stephen Strasburg was placed on the 60-day Injured List.  “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome” was not something I expected to see end the World Series MVP’s season.  I was hoping that 2019 would represent a turning point in the right-hander’s career:  he led the NL in wins and innings pitched while notching career highs in victories and strikeouts before becoming an October star.  Strasburg went 5-0 with a 2.23 ERA and 47 strikeouts over 36.1 frames and saved the Nats’ bacon in the Wild Card Game with three scoreless relief innings.  Instead, 2020 will be the outlier years of all outlier years as the defending champs try to scrape their way back to the playoff pack minus their best pitcher from 2019.  The grind will continue, but the margin for error is that much slimmer minus a major piece of the pitching rotation.

 

Santangelo Math- the MASN TV analyst mentioned on the air that with the shortened schedule, each game is now worth “2.7” games on a 162-game slate.  So the Nats are now “30-38” for what it is worth.

Dissecting the Division- Atlanta owns first place at 16-12 and would score the third seed in the NL Playoffs if the season were to end today.  Miami at 11-11 is in second gets the sixth seed while the third place New York Mets (12-14) are currently eighth, one-half game ahead of the Nationals (11-14) and a full game ahead of Philadelphia (10-14).  As you can see, the COVID-19 postponements are playing a little with the standings, but eventually everyone will play the same games. I think.

Break up the Birds- the O’s may have lost six in a row, but back to back wins over a bad Boston team have the club back at .500 and in contention for the eighth and final playoff spot (they’re currently tied with Toronto).  Anthony Santander’s hitting streak has reached 18 games, and there’s no reason not to think this team won’t be in the mix one month from now during the final days of the shortened season.

Anthony’s Song (Movin’ Out)- Tony two-bags may have tallied only a pair of doubles last week, but the Nats former third baseman hit .531 (17 of 32) to move over .300 for the season.  His 1.012 OPS is currently 12th in the majors.  Unfortunately the Los Angeles Angels are one of four teams that have yet to reach ten wins on the season, and one of the other three is 9-8 St. Louis.  At least the weather is nice.

Last Week’s Heroes- Trea Turner hit .409 with a team-high 7 runs and 5 RBI while Yon Gomes batted .417 with a pair of home runs.  But rookie Luis Garcia made a big splash by hitting .400 with a home run in his first full week at the Major League level. Anibal Sanchez tossed seven solid innings Sunday for his best start of 2020 while Will Harris, Tanner Rainey, and Kyle Finnegan each posted three scoreless relief outings.

Last Week’s Humbled- Daniel Hudson’s ninth-inning hiccup Monday night in Atlanta appears to be just that–an off-night during an otherwise solid season. Austin Voth allowed five runs over four innings in his lone start.  Adam Eaton hit .200; hopefully his two-out, two-run double Sunday will be the start of a spark.  Carter Kieboom batted .111 but walked five times, including in a bases-loaded situation Sunday.

Game to Watch- Thursday the Nats wrap up their series with Philadelphia as Max Scherzer takes to the mound against Aaron Nola.  Skip Scherzday at your own risk.

Game to Miss- Friday the Nationals begin a series against AL East cellar-dwelling Boston.  Yes, the team that won the World Series the year before the Nats are 9-20 and are in a major rebuild after trading away their best homegrown player this century in Mookie Betts. My friend Sully From Southie remains wicked upset regarding these developments and is thankful his Celtics and Bruins have advanced to the second rounds of the playoffs to keep his attention at least until he starts worrying about the possibilities of an 0-16 Patriots season. The final pre-Labor Day weekend Friday is also a great chance for me to visit the Georgetown Waterfront one final time; while 2020 has not been a summer for hanging out at Tony & Joe’s I’ll be down there in spirit as I enjoy a beverage on my balcony. 

We’re officially entering the final third of Elvis movies with his first two films from 1966, his 20th and 21st movies earning middling dollars as sagging ratings.  Three years ago you could have made the case that Elvis movies were a mixed bag with a few ambitious attempts and a few turkeys;  by this time the Elvis catalogue is mostly so-so fare with a handful of gems.  We aren’t at the bitter end (and trust me, the end is bitter), but we’re getting there.

 

“Frankie & Johnny”- March 31, 1966. 

Gross- $2.75 million (according to Variety), the 46th highest-grossing film of the year according to ultimatemovierankings.com, $49.7 million adjusted for inflation.  

IMDB Rating: 5.7 out of 10.

Rotten Tomatoes- 50% Audience Score. 

Role: Johnny, a riverboat performer in the 1800’s. Singing is his job.

Here comes a tale from the Mississippi River in the 19th century. Johnny and Frankie are a team on and off the stage, but Johnny is a compulsive gambler and owes quite a bit of money.  So he takes his musician/composer friend Cully to a gypsy camp.  The fortune-teller says Johnny will soon meet a red-haired woman who will bring him luck.

Once back on the boat they meet red-haired Nellie Bly who has just caught her boyfriend seducing another singer.  Her boyfriend just happens to be their boss.  Nellie touches Johnny’s chips and he wins.  The boss and Frankie find out about the chip-touching and both become jealous.  The riverboat show is watched by a Broadway recruiter and the bright lights become a possibility.  But there’s a case of mistaken identity, Frankie is furious at Johnny’s gambling and the boss is still mad.  The boss’ dim-witted henchman makes an executive decision that almost becomes tragic, but a lucky medallion saves the day.

Who’s That Girl/Guy?  A pair of TV notables surface here:  Donna Douglas of “The Beverly Hillbillies” TV show portrays the titular Frankie while Harry Morgan from “M*A*S*H”plays the songwriting sidekick Cully. 

You’ll Be Humming- for a character who writes snappy tunes, Cully doesn’t give us anything to enjoy for the ride home. Perhaps he should become an Army surgeon. 

Worth It?  It’s a far cry from “King Creole”, but the crescent city setting calls again.

 

“Paradise, Hawaiian Style”-

Tickle Me“- June 9, 1966.

Gross- $2.5 million (according to Variety), the 40th highest-grossing film of the year according to ultimatemovierankings.com, $59.0 million adjusted for inflation.  

IMDB Rating: 5.6 out of 10.

Rotten Tomatoes- 56% Audience Score. 

Role: Rick Richards, an unemployed airline pilot who looks to set up a business in the islands. In between flights he finds time to sing.

Former airline pilot Rick Richards returns to his home state Hawaii and looks to begin a helicopter charter business with his friend Danny. But Rick’s out of control flying and his reckless flirting with women may cost him the business and his partner Danny’s home.

There’s even more flirting with the secretary Judy “Friday” Hudson.  But then Danny might be lost while Rick has been grounded.  Can we get a happy ending in Hawaii for once?  Or actually counting “Blue Hawaii” and “Girls! Girls! Girls!”, can we get a happy ending for thrice?

Who’s That Girl/Guy?  James Shigeta plays Danny Kohana. He’d later surface as Mr. Tagaki in “Die Hard” before portraying Steve Sanders’ father-in-law during the last season of “Beverly Hills 90210”. 

You’ll Be Humming- “Scratch My Back”. The song works despite itself.

Worth It?  The weakest of the three Elvis in Hawaii movies.  Take a nap. Or watch this SNL gem from 1989 that does Elvis in the islands much better.  Waikiki Hockey

 

The name Norman Taurog is often forgotten when one thinks of Elvis films- or movies in general.  But the 1932 Best Director Oscar-winner (“Skippy”) would go on to direct everyone from Spencer Tracy & Mickey Rooney (“Boys Town”) to Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis (six of their sixteen films). In the sixties during the sunset of his career, Taurog would helm nine of the king’s films, beginning with the picture (“G.I. Blues”) that set the post-Army tone up to not just one but both of his race car-themed films (“Speedway” & “Spinout”).  “Tickle Me” is one such film and although it’s flimsy holds some entertainment value.  “Harum Scarum” is not one of Taurog’s and you think under his watchful eye it would have been much better, or at least somewhat passable.

 

“Tickle Me”– June 3, 1965.

Gross- $3.4 million (according to Variety), the 35th highest-grossing film of the year according to ultimatemovierankings.com, $72.4 million adjusted for inflation.  

IMDB Rating: 6.1 out of 10.

Rotten Tomatoes- 61% Audience Score. 

Role: Lonnie Beale, out of work rodeo rider who sings in his spare time.

Another early scene features a fight, but this time Lonnie Beale is a singer who makes a girl’s boyfriend jealous. The boyfriend is played by Red West, who in real-life was a member of the Memphis Mafia and was a long-time bodyguard of the king before becoming a stuntman and actor.  After the scuffle Beale is fired by the nightclub, but another customer who owns a local ranch hires him to take care of the horses.  But the Circle-Z isn’t any ordinary ranch, it’s a place where actresses and models go to lose weight and get in shape.

Lonnie falls for guest Pam Meritt (Jocelyn Lane) who has ulterior motives for visiting hte ranch.  There’s a treasure hunt with Lonnie, Pam, and earnestly awkward sidekick Stanley Potter who is the funniest thing about this film.  There’s ghosts and a misunderstanding and fantasy sequences before the finale.

Who’s That Girl/Guy?  Joceyln Lane plays his romantic lead; who years after starring with the king married an Austrian Prince.  As long as we’re talking about royalty, Edward Faulkner portrays the ranch-owner’s boyfriend, Brad Bentley. Faulkner regularly kept company with the duke, appearing in a slew of John Wayne movies from “The Green Berets” to “Hellfighters” to “The Undefeated”.

You’ll Be Humming- “Dirty, Dirty Feeling” moves. Even with a horse chiming in.

Worth It?  Rope yourself in for this one.

 

“Harum Scarum”- November 24, 1965.

Gross- $1.5 million (according to Variety), the 62nd highest-grossing film of the year according to ultimatemovierankings.com, $36.6 million adjusted for inflation.  

IMDB Rating: 4.8 out of 10.

Rotten Tomatoes- 29% Audience Score. 

Role:  Johnny Tyrone, a singing actor who somehow dabbles in international intrigue. 

An American movie star is in the Middle East for his most recent film’s premiere.  He’s seduced and then kidnapped before escaping with a slave girl.  But that is only the tip of the sand dune:  the slave girl is actually the daughter of the king who is the target of assassination.  Can Johnny foil the attempt, find out the identity of the conspiracy’s leader and win the Middle Eastern princess on the final day of Ramadan?

Reportedly this film was shot in 18 days, and one could make the case the script was put together in 18 minutes.  This was done on the cheap with previously used sets and props from biblical epics made available.

Who’s That Girl?  Mary Ann Mobley was previously in “Girl Happy”;  she wins the king in this film and would go on to replace Dixie Carter as Mrs. Drummond when “Diff’rent Strokes” moved from NBC to ABC for its final season. .

You’ll Be Humming- “Go East Young Man”? Every song in this movie is tough to stomach.

Worth It?  This made “Ishtar” look like “Citizen Kane”. 

After solo shots the last two days, we go back to doubleheaders.  Unfortunately more is less when one checks out the Elvis filmography after “Viva Las Vegas”.  Feasts begin to get outnumbered by the famines.  And we’re also in the stretch where three movies were cranked out per year.

 

“Roustabout”- November 10, 1964.

Gross- $3.3 million (according to Variety), the 29th highest-grossing film of the year according to ultimatemovierankings.com, $87.2 million adjusted for inflation.  

IMDB Rating: 6.1 out of 10.

Rotten Tomatoes- 56% Tomato Meter, 57% Audience Score. 

Role: Charlie Rogers, a coffee shop singer who finds work with a traveling carnival. 

After his song “Poison Ivy League” infuriates a few college students, Charlie gets into a fight and is fired (not to be confused with his early-scene fight in “Jailhouse Rock”). Once out of jail he hits the road on his motorcycle and naturally flirts with a girl in the next lane before her father runs him off of the road.  The mother, Maggie (played by Miss Barbara Stanwyck), offfers him a job with her traveling carnival while the bike is in the shop.  As a “carnie”/roustabout, Charlie shows off his singing skills and becomes a big attraction to the carnival-goers as well as the girl from the car.  But Cathy’s father doesn’t approve and after a false accusation Charlie goes to a rival carnival.  But he learns that Maggie’s carnival is facing financial ruin, and has to decide whether or not to save the day and win the heart of Cathy one more time.  As unpredictable an ending as most Ferris Wheels.

Who’s That Woman/Guy?  You’ll recognize Miss Barbara Stanwyck from “Double Indemity” (“Ball of Fire” remains my favorite); this film was made shortly before she starred in the TV show “The Big Valley”.  Meanwhile, the strongman is played by Richard Kiel, who would go on to become famous as “Jaws” in the James Bond series.

You’ll Be Humming- “Hard Knocks” has one of the backup singers stealing the show with a bass voice. 

Worth It?  A hard pass.

 

Girl Happy”-  April 14, 1965.

Gross- $3.25 million (according to Variety), the 33rd highest-grossing film of the year according to ultimatemovierankings.com, $76.6 million adjusted for inflation.  

IMDB Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Rotten Tomatoes- 67% Audience Score. 

Role: Rusty Wells, a singer who has to play chaperone during Spring Break. 

Did you ever wonder what might happen if Elvis wound up in a beach movie?  Wonder no more. Nightclub singer Rusty Wells (not to be confused with Ann-Margaret’s character Rusty Martin from “Viva Las Vegas”) and his band are all set to go to to Fort Lauderdale–and when nightclub owner Big Frank (Harold Stone) sends the band to follow his daughter Valerie (Shelley Fabares) and keep an eye on her it looks like their fun in the sun is not going to happen. But then Rusty falls for Valerie and after singing “Puppet on a String” to her, the co-ed is putty in his hands.  Naturally things get complicated with Big Frank shows up in the sunshine state, followed by a riot and people landing in jail.  Can young love find its way without Frankie & Annette to lend a hand?

Who’s That Woman/Guy?  While you’ll recognize Gary Crosby (son of Bing) as the bassist in Elvis’ band, you’ll notice the guitarist is played by Jimmy Hawkins.  Jimmy as a child played Tommy Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. 

You’ll Be Humming- “Puppet on a String” is a lovely song and figures in the plot at multiple points. “Wolf Call” is unintentionally hilarious.  You’ll appreciate both.

Worth It?  It’s no “Beach Blanket Bingo”, but then again what is? It’s breezy, flighty, and exactly what you’d want with a spring break vacation–minus the sunburn. Or the wolf call.

This is the “Goldfinger” of Elvis movies.  Every film that follows is a pale echo of this from a spectacle standpoint.  He’d portray a race car driver twice more in his career and often have overt or subtle military ties (there’s a scene here where he refers to “an old Army buddy”).  He’d have other second-tier sidekicks and rivals, along with well-known co-stars. But nothing that followed would match “Viva Las Vegas”.  The fact he performed in Vegas extensively during his post-film career extensively only adds to its legend.

Viva Las Vegas”-  May 20, 1964.

Gross- $9.4 million (according to Variety), the 10th highest-grossing film of the year according to ultimatemovierankings.com, $142.7 million adjusted for inflation.  

IMDB Rating: 6.4 out of 10.

Rotten Tomatoes- 86% Tomato Meter, 67% Audience Score. 

Role: Lucky Jackson, a race car driver who as fate would have it also happens to sing. 

Lucky gambles in Las Vegas because he needs money for a new engine in order to compete in the city’s Grand Prix Race.  After winning the money he stumbles upon Rusty Martin (Ann-Margaret) a swimming instructor at a local hotel.  After losing his money in the pool (naturally after singing a duet), Lucky works as a waiter while wooing Miss Martin. There’s a helicopter view of Lake Mead and Hoover Dam, tons of songs and a talent contest where the two leads finish in a tie.  Will Lucky get the motor?  Will he win the race?  And most importantly, will he get the girl?  Let’s just say that when you’re Elvis playing the lead in a movie, the deck is stacked in your favor.

Who’s That Guy?  William Demarest plays Rusty’s father before his turn as “Uncle Charlie” on “My Three Sons”.

You’ll Be Humming- ” The Lady Loves Me” is a pleasant duet of give and take between Elvis and Ann-Margaret. If Priscilla wasn’t worried about her boyfriend/fiancee, she should have been after seeing their chemistry in this scene together.

Worth It?  Double down on this one!  The high point of mid-60’s Elvis films.  You can’t say enough about what Ann-Margaret brings to the movie.  His future co-stars had quite an act to live up to. 

This week we turn the calendar to 1964, when all of a sudden the Presley went from the present to passe. The Beatles began the British Invasion with the bang known as “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and spun six singles to the top of the US charts (for the record, “Love Me Do” was recorded in 1962 and “She Loves You” was released in 1963).  The Rolling Stones and others would follow.  Meanwhile, Elvis released three films (two of which were shot in 1963) of varying quality.  We start down the decline with a dual role.

“Kissin’ Cousins” “- March 6, 1964.

Gross- $3 million (according to Variety), the 32nd highest-grossing film of the year according to ultimatemovierankings.com, $80.3 million adjusted for inflation.  

IMDB Rating: 5.4 out of 10.

Rotten Tomatoes- 45% Audience Score.

Role- Air Force pilot Josh Tatum AND Great Smoky Mountains resident Jodie Tatum, lookalike third cousins. They sing both separately and thanks to the magic of technology together by the end of the movie.

Second Lieutenant Josh Tatum and his Captain receive the task of negotiating a lease for an ICBM missile base in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.  Morgan may have an in with the family who lives on the mountain as he’s distantly related to the Tatum family.  Lo and behold, the dark-haired Morgan has a blonde-haired lookalike third cousin named Jodie.  Morgan meets up with Azalea (Yvonne Craig- who also appeared in “It Happened at World’s Fair”) and Selena (Pamela Austin- who also appeared in “Blue Hawaii”), both of whom have designs on the Air Force pilot at first.

Meanwhile, Jodie falls for Air Force Private Midge Riley (Cynthia Pepper, who for some reason had yet to appear in an Elvis movie).  There is also a group of mountain maidens called “Kittyhawks” who have their eyes on soldiers.  Hilarity ensues while Josh chooses Azalea while pairing off Selena with Master Sgt William Bailey (Tommy Farrell, who shined as “Riff Ryan” in “Dobie Gillis”), the Air Force gets their leasing of the mountaintop and everyone is happy and dancing, and do we need to discuss anything else?  No.

Who’s That Guy?  Jack Albertson portrays Captain Robert Salbo seven years before he’d become known to many as “Grandpa Joe” in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”.  I could have used a little Augustus Gloop or Veruca Salt to give this movie a little more life. Yes, I most certainly want it all.

You’ll Be Humming- Another subpar collection of songs with the title track the least lame of the bunch.

Worth It?  Skip this one.  

In 2019 the Nationals were able to go from 19-31 to the World Series thanks to a starting rotation that hit its stride after the All Star Game: even with Max Scherzer’s back issues the trio of Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin and Anibal Sanchez combine to go 21-6 after the midseason hiatus.  As the team is approaching the one-third mark of the shortened season, Sanchez is struggling while Strasburg is on the shelf with nerve issues in his right wrist.  Over the weekend, Scherzer gave up three homers while Corbin allowed five runs in his most recent outing.  So far this summer Austin Voth (0-2, 3.21 ERA over three starts) and Erick Fedde (1-1, 2.55 ERA over two starts and three relief appearances) have been adequate but not awesome; recent issues with Strasburg and Sanchez may change their success from an added bonus to a necessity.

Santangelo Math- the MASN TV analyst mentioned on the air that with the shortened schedule, each game is now worth “2.7” games on a 162-game slate.  So the Nats are now “21.6-29.7” for what it is worth.  But let’s realize they don’t need to get to 93-69 (34-26 equivalent) to make the playoffs this year; using 2020 rules the Cubs at 85-77 (31-29) would have snared the 8th and final seed in the NL last year.

Dissecting the Division- Miami and Atlanta are tied for first, but the Marlins 9-6 mark is potentially prone to a major standings swing as they’ve played eight fewer games than the Braves.  Philadelphia’s 8-9 and in third place, or one-half game out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the National League.  The Nats are 8-11 and one full game out of third while the New York Mets have found the cellar at 9-14 after a three game losing streak.

Break up the Birds- the O’s after dropping two of three to the Nationals find themselves 12-9 and in third place of the AL East, and as the third place team with the best record in the American League are in position to earn the number seven seed.  Anthony Santander is enjoying a breakout year with 17 runs scored, 7 homers and 22 RBI while former Nationals catcher Pedro Severino has seen his bat wake up in Baltimore.  Severino in 115 games with the Orioles is hitting .263 with 18 HR and 62 RBI;  he batted .187 with 4 HR and 22 RBI in 105 games for the Nats. By the way, the seventh seed in the American League currently draws the New York Yankees.

Anthony’s Song (Movin’ Out)- now this is what we were saying goodbye to when the former Nats third baseman signed elsewhere.  Rendon bounced back from a slow (.103) start by going 8 for 20 with 5 homers and 7 RBI.  He also walked six times to post a .538 on base percentage for the week.  His 20 walks this season are tied for second in the majors.  Rendon’s new team?  Currently 7-15 after four straight losses and attempting to climb back into the AL West race.  For those using FP math, that’s the equivalent of a 19-41 start.

Last Week’s Heroes- Juan Soto hits .462 with 5 homers and 12 RBI and looks like the next DC sports superstar.  Trea Turner bats .433 with 3 HR and 6 RBI while scoring 10 runs atop the order.  Asdrubal Cabrera continues to be a bat for opponents to worry about, hitting 3 homers with 8 RBI.  Max Scherzer wins both of his starts while striking out 17 over 13 innings.  Daniel Hudson tallies two saves while Tanner Rainey adds a pair of holds. 

Last Week’s Humbled- Anibal Sanchez allowed five earned runs over 2.2 innings and is now 0-3 with a 9.69 ERA.  Seth Romero posted an ERA of 21.60 while Ryne Harper’s ERA was 18.00.  Carter Kieboom hit .211 while Eric Thames batted .077.

Game to Watch- Saturday Max Scherzer starts against the Marlins Saturday at 4:05.  Late enough to enjoy some precious pool-time while early enough to enjoy a nice dinner-especially with the seven-inning format for doubleheader games.  And Max is on the mound.

Game to Miss- Tuesday the Nats visit Atlanta.  While the Braves are currently the team to beat in the NL East the Washington Capitals are fighting for their playoff lives as they face a potential sweep at the hands of former coach Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders.  It was the Isles who first eliminated the Caps from the playoffs in 1984, and it was NY that first officially broke the heart of Capitals fans early Easter morning in 1987.  Despite the Nats’ season being half-full and the Caps’ campaign mostly empty, I’ll be focused on hockey-at least for one more night this summer.

One of the reasons why Elvis movies continued to be successful despite their lack of artistic quality was that they gave people a view of the world, from Germany to Hawaii to Mexico to Hawaii to Seattle’s World’s Fair to…Hawaii again.  In an age before leisure travel became commonplace, this was a way to see the world.  The two movies he made in 1963 gave fans a chance to leave their world.  He also kept things simple this year, playing a pair of characters named Mike.

 

“It Happened at World’s Fair”- April 3, 1963.

Gross- $2.5 million (according to Variety), the 42nd highest-grossing film of the year according to ultimatemovierankings.com, $71.9 million adjusted for inflation.  

IMDB Rating: 6.2 out of 10.

Rotten Tomatoes- 59% Audience Score. 

Role: Mike Edwards, a pilot who sings. 

Mike learns his business partner has gambled away $1,200 (which translates to over $10,000 in 2020 money).  While trying to get the money back he hitches a ride to the World’s Fair, and is left to babysit the driver’s niece.  Once there Mike meets a nurse and naturally tries to romance her. The child actually tries to help him out.  Mike dines at the Space Needle with Diane but she learns he’s not related to the Sue-Lin and tries to have the child removed from his custody.  Meanwhile, he and his partner have a business opportunity that isn’t completely legitimate.  You also get to see a sunny Seattle.

Who’s That Girl?  Here’s Batgirl!  Yvonne Craig doesn’t win Mike’s love in the end but does go on to appear in “Kissin’ Cousins” a few years later when she does land the king.  Kurt Russell appears uncredited as a boy who’s paid by Mike to kick him in the shin so he can go back to see the nurse he’s attracted to. 

You’ll Be Humming- “One Broken Heart for Sale” is the best of a weak lot. 

Worth It?  Skip this one.  

 

“Fun in Acapulco”- November 27, 1963.

Gross- $3.1 million (according to Variety), the 35th highest-grossing film of the year according to ultimatemovierankings.com, $84.7 million adjusted for inflation.  

IMDB Rating: 5.9 out of 10.

Rotten Tomatoes- 51% Audience Score. 

Role:  Mike Windgren, who instead of flying does cliff-diving in Mexico when he’s not singing.

Mike is haunted by the death of his brother and high-wire circus partner, carrying with him a fear of heights. After getting fired from working on a boat, he becomes a lifeguard and a singer at a local hotel.  Raoul substitutes for Sue-Lin as the child befriended by Elvis’ character in this film.  Naturally there’s a rival lifeguard, the champion diver of Mexico who gets upset that Mike is taking some of his shifts as well as stealing his girlfriend.  He also meets “Margarita” along the way and romances her instead.  Finally, Mike performs the death-defying dive off the 136-foot cliffs of La Quebrada.  He tops it off with one more song before leaving with Margarita and Raoul.

Who’s That Girl?  Ursula Andress had just made the first James bond film “Dr. No”, and needs no introduction.

You’ll Be Humming- “Bossa Nova Baby” moves, and the fact that Elvis mimes the keyboards only makes the song more enjoyable.

Worth It?  Si senor! The last movie made by Presley before the Beatles arrived in America hits the water perfectly.