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Friday, June 15, 2018

Acapulco Holiday For Elvis Stand-Ins!

Fun In Acapulco (1963) A Presley Postcard From Wallis

What Better Combo Than Elvis and Lassie?
Elvis Presley must overcome fear of heights so that his double may dive off the highest cliff in Acapulco. That and all other exteriors had to do without Elvis, who was loathe to plane-travel and so scorned the trip south. His stand-in is stunningly evident on High-Def rendition of Fun In Acapulco. Old Technicolor prints, rich and saturated as they were, did not tip the hand of faux Elvis taking up position every time cameras ventured outdoors. Scenery was a plus in Presley pics, especially those Hal Wallis produced, his certainly the most handsome of Presley's lot. In this instance, a second unit flew down for the balmy stuff --- hotels, cliff sites, all we expect of Acapulco --- while the first team, with principal cast, shoots the rest at Paramount facilities. To simulate his presence in Acapulco, Elvis literally spends half the pic before process screens. By 1963, he'd been lacquered into submission, his hair not shifting a thread however winds blew. These sceneics saw their star doing songs and most acting by rote. I wonder if he even glanced at dialogue before walking on a set (might Elvis be more engaged had he traveled to exotic settings?). His southernisms make selves felt --- he refers to "Co' Cola" rather than scripted Coca-Cola at one point, a distinctly Dixie enunciation I've heard (in fact, used) all my life. Fun In Acapulco and others of the Wallis/Presley line look particularly nice in HD, reborn in the format, and a pleasure to close-inspect for means by which backgrounds were mated with players emoting thousands of miles distant.


Blogger DBenson said...

I recall reading -- was it here? -- that Colonel Tom Parker's dodgy past made it difficult to travel outside the country, so he vetoed any project that would take Elvis away from his influence. This included overseas tours, which at Elvis's peak would have been huge money.

3:12 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Mike Mazzone supplies insight into what curbed Elvis' international travel:


Concerning Elvis’s aversion to air travel, his reluctance to going to Mexico may have had other hidden reason’s.

Elvis, actually flew a lot and preferred to fly to a town where he would do a show, be made up on his plane, drive to the venue and fly back to Memphis the same night.

The problem with Fun In Acapulco may have been Colonel Parkers fear of international travel due to the fact that he was most likely an illegal alien. For years he claimed to have been born in the US (in many interviews he claimed to be from Huntington West Virginia!) he was actually born in the Netherlands and due to his fears of being deported would never allow Elvis to book tours outside the US. It cost Elvis millions especially in the late 60’s and early 70’s when he was in big demand to go on an international tour with the Colonel regularly turning down huge lucrative offers to do so.

Instead, the Colonel convinced Elvis to set up residence in Las Vegas, this was due to the fact that he was a heavy gambler and he used his percentage to float his huge gambling debts to the Vegas casinos, literally gambling away his unheard of 50% commissions as fast as he made them.

Other than a couple shows in Canada that the Colonel did not attend, Elvis never toured outside the US.

Mike Mazzone

3:50 PM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

If Elvis had the self-respect to fire Parker early on, he would have had a far better movie and recording career. Instead, he was a simple good ol' boy who allowed himself to be pushed around by a crook who didn't have his best interests at heart. Parker and the studio knew that fans would flock to anything on celluloid with Elvis' image and voice, so why bother with good scripts and directors? Most of his movies make "Help!" look like "The Magnificent Ambersons".

4:23 PM  
Blogger antoniod said...

I read somewhere that Parker COULD have traveled outside the US, that he had it all worked out with President Johnson. The actual situation was probably a lot more complicated than who could or couldn't leave the country. Is it possible that Elvis was actually conflicted about things that he said he wanted to do? And if Parker hadn't been his manager, would Elvis have starred in ANY movies? The singers who stayed at Sun records only did guest appearances in features.

11:50 PM  
Blogger Chrisk said...

This was very obvious when he performed that fabulous song 'Mexico' in the movie. You could see the contrast between the Elvis and the boy on a bicycle and the background. After this, I lost interest in Elvis's movies, particularly the songs therefrom. Best regards.

2:57 AM  
Blogger Jerry Kovar said...

I was skipping most Elvis movies by this point unless the co-feature got my attention ("The Day Mars Invaded the Earth"). Now I'll have to go back to watch this and the "fabulous foregrounds of Ursula and Elsa".

6:36 AM  
Blogger Mike Cline said...

There are a number of ELVIS movies I enjoy. FIA is not one of them. I picked up on the EP double watching a 16mm print one day. Sort of like Lana Turner in PEYTON PLACE. No shots of her in beautiful autumn New England.

7:28 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

An Elvis appreciation from Dan Mercer:

In a few minutes, my wife and son and I will be driving out to Weber's Drive-In for root beer and burgers. Out front will be an Elvis impersonator, lip syncing to a cassette and trying to wave the passing traffic on to the lot. It is Elvis in his late Las Vegas period: massive bottle black hair and sideburns and a figure no less massive, constrained by a sun-bleached jump suit glittering with rhinestones. The impersonator is known to participate in chicken wing eating contests, which lends a certain verisimilitude to the role he's playing.

I'm not a great fan of the "King" as a singer or actor, but there two films of his that I do like and which demonstrate what a charismatic performer he could be: "King Creole" and "Wild in the Country.
I also remember an evening at the house of that odd little fraternity I joined in college. A couple of the senior brothers and their girl friends were sitting on sofa before the massive GE black and white console model television in the living room, and I'd just gotten there when an Elvis Presley movie came on. I don't recall the title--it might have been "Easy Come, Easy Go"--but it was the first time I had watched a film of his. The music wasn't that good and the story not much better, but everyone enjoyed watching it, even me. That it was so entertaining had everything to do with Elvis' engaging, laid-back style. He seemed to be having a good time, and for that hour and half, so did we.

I don't go out of my way to watch an Elvis Presley film, but I do remember that evening and how good he was at what he was doing.

5:19 PM  
Blogger Chrisk said...

I still love the song 'I'll take love' at the tail end of Easy Come Easy Go. Best regards.

3:59 AM  
Blogger Beowulf said...

Ha! I'll bet the "Denver" really packed the teens in with that second big attraction:
LASSIE'S GREATEST ADVENTURE! Any fifteen-year-old male caught coming out of that showing would deserve the thrashing he got from his peers. The Wolf, man.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Anthony Britch said...

I wanted to address the real reasons Elvis did not travel to Acapulco, Mexico for Hal Wallis' "Fun In Acapulco". All of the detail can be found at these two links.

To summarize; a prominent businessman in 1957 sent a written request asking Elvis to appear at his daughter's birthday. It was politely declined.

Upset at the perceived slight, the businessman spread a FALSE story in the Mexican press containing a racial slur, attributed to Elvis about Mexican women. Repeat a FALSE story. as a result Elvis' music was banned from the radio.

in 1959, during a showing of King Creole at Mexico's largest Cinema, a riot broke out damaging the theater and over 100 arrests. As a result some of Elvis' records were banned. In 1961, riots broke out during showings of GI Blues when the false newspaper story made the rounds again.

by early 1963 when Fun in Acapulco was being produced it was determined Mexico was not to be a safe place for Elvis to go. On top of this was the FACT Col. Parker was an illegal Immigrant and did not have a passport.

As for the resulting film, it was a better story than Elvis was usually given and he did well, giving a solid performance. The collection of songs were one of Elvis' best 1960's soundtracks, sung beautifully by Elvis. Larry Domasin, as Raul, was very good. The Latin atmosphere, as well as the topography of Ursula Andress and Elsa Cardenas was gorgeous.

The film reportedly cost $3,000,000 - Elvis' most expensive production to date. Theatrical Rentals came in at $3,100,000. This was Elvis' 13th film, at the time ranking 7th and making just below the average for an Elvis film. (Avg $3,300,000).

6:29 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Fascinating about Elvis being persona non grata in Mexico. Thanks for the info, Anthony.

7:55 AM  
Blogger Tbone Mankini said...

Ursula,hot off DR NO, joins that list of Elvis co-stars that were actually names....Ann-Margaret, Lizbeth Scott, Barbara Stanwyck and Carolyn Jones spring to mind tho I'm sure there were others....Nancy Sinatra and Mary Tyler Moore, as many others were some girl who was in an Elvis movie...

4:16 AM  
Blogger Tbone Mankini said...

Special mention for Shelley Fabrares,who was in THREE films with Elvis...coming off her DONNA REED SHOW/ "Johnny Angel" career height, tho she kept working for decades...

4:23 AM  

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