Monday, September 3, 2012

Review: Easy Come, Easy Go (1967)

In this film, Elvis plays Ted Jackson, a sailor just getting out of the navy who discovers a shipwreck with possible treasure while on his last diving mission to disable a mine. Determined to retrieve the treasure, he teams up with old friend and business partner Judd Whitman (Pat Harrington) and the cooky Captain Jack (Frank McHugh) to rent a boat and diving equipment. There are obstacles he must overcome, which in this case are the competing treasure-seekers Dina Bishop (Pat Priest) and Gil Carey (Skip Ward).

As with every other Elvis movie, Ted (Elvis) has a fist fight with his chief competitor, Gil, on board Dina's boat. Also necessary in an Elvis movie was to have a plethora of attractive women, and this film was no different. In order to get more information about the sunken ship's treasure, Ted consults with the granddaughter of the skipper, Jo Symington (Dodie Marshall). Jo is a free spirit, stereotypical of the late 1960s, who lives in an artist commune and introduces Ted to various forms of expression and yoga. In one of the most amusing scenes in the movie, Ted tries to perform yoga poses at the demand of the yoga instructor Madame Neherina (Elsa Lanchester, who also played Katie Nanna in Mary Poppins (1964)). It would have been a much funnier scene without the song "Yoga Is As Yoga Does." In many of Elvis's movies you get a glimpse of his acting talents, and this scene suggests that he might have done well with comedy if he had been given better scripts.

Because Elvis's film career spanned 13 tumultuous years, it is interesting to see how cultural and political events occurring in the real world crept into his films, albeit in somewhat caricature-ish fashions. Elvis, himself, was not a Beatnik type and his character's skepticism about Jo's "artistic" friends reveals what I imagine Elvis might have thought about these left-leaning free spirits. In 1967 he was also 32 years old, which made him a bit older than the 20-somethings who were taking over American pop culture. In order to stay current, though, his films had to graduate from the innocent beach party/Western/crime dramas of the earlier days and incorporate elements of the counterculture. According to Wikipedia, yoga was introduced to the western world in the late 1800s, but reached peak popularity in the 1960s when western interest in Hindu spirituality increased. I do not know if Elvis ever took up an interest in yoga, and I can't find a reference to Elvis and yoga in my reference books. Even though Elvis still refers to women as "girls" and some of them are still pretty dippy, the two main female characters in this film aren't completely brain-dead, which I think may have been the result of the gradual change in gender stereotypes. Dina is conniving and manipulative, which were some negative female stereotypes that weren't uncommon, but she's also smart and definitely has the upper hand in her relationship with Gil. Jo is entrepreneurial and plans to use her share of the treasure to open an art center where her friends can pursue their talents. She's in charge at the commune and doesn't fawn all over Ted like some women might. While Ted's attitude toward women and their capabilities still harkens back to an earlier era, the women themselves suggest that they can do more than he and other men believe they can.

Overall, I wouldn't say that this is a film that I'll watch over and over again, but it does have its points of interest. The soundtrack is forgettable and the plot is cliche. The saving grace for Elvis is that there weren't any scenes in which I felt particularly embarrassed for him. It wasn't a huge hit for him - according to IMDB the movie just about broke even with a $2 million estimated budget and $1.95 million gross income - but it definitely is not the worst film I've ever seen.

Internet Movie Database, "Easy Come, Easy Go."
Wikipedia, "Yoga."

Photo credit:, "Elvis Presley's Films as an Actor."


Blofeld's Cat said...

Every Elvis soundtrack has its high points and its low points, but "Yoga Is As Yoga Does" is about as low as you can go. I will even listen to something like "Dominic" (a song from STAY AWAY JOE and which Elvis sings to a cow or maybe its a bull!) over "Yoga..."

I have always liked "She's A Machine" (and this hip lyric "...she's a wild movin', smooth groovin', pot takin', love makin' machine...").

But I realize now I need to hold my comments on this soundtrack until one of my next posts...

Maile Duval said...

I have to post a semi-correction:

Elvis did explore various sources of spirituality in the mid-1960s, including visiting a self-realization center in California that had Hindu roots. I have not seen any references to him actually practicing yoga, but apparently he was offended by the way in which he had to belittle yoga in the movie.