Saturday, October 6, 2012

Notes on Double Trouble

I've finally seen it: the infamous scene in which Elvis was forced to sing a version of "Old MacDonald's Farm." It's one of those stereotypically bad scenes that is referenced by those who write about Elvis because it was so outrageous and embarrassing for him. As I watched it, I was embarrassed for him. It wouldn't have been so bad if he and co-star Annette Day were just sitting on the back of a pickup with a bunch of animals. People in movies tend to do that from time to time. It's just when he sings "ee-i-ee-i-oh" and flaps his arms like a chicken and makes horns with his hands to mimic a cow that you cringe on his behalf. (Elvis, wherever you are, I felt your pain.)

This scene appears in Double Trouble, Elvis's twenty-third film, released in 1967. In this adventure, Elvis plays Guy Lambert, a singer who finds himself dating a 17-year-old girl who just won't leave him alone. He tries to break it off with her when he learns her age, but to no avail. They sail from England to Belgium where she is supposed to attend boarding school and where he has gigs with his band. The music quickly gets moved to the back burner as Guy discovers that Jill's (Day) uncle has hired hit men to kill her before she turns 18 so he can get her inheritance. In addition to dodging hit men, Guy and Jill are also being followed by jewel thieves who stashed their cargo in Guy's suitcase during the trip to Belgium. After running to and fro and managing to ditch one of the hit men in an old well in Antwerp, Guy is arrested by the Wiere Brothers, who made cameo appearances as a comical trio of police officers. In the end, everything turns out all right, I guess (kind of an odd ending - you judge for yourself).

Since I commented on the costuming for Spinout in my last post, I'll mention here that Annette Day looks like Little Bo Peep in some scenes of the film, which makes it even more awkward that she's supposed to be a teenager dating an adult man. I didn't notice as many multi-layered costumes for Elvis this time, but his hair bothered me. He was sporting the same do that he had for Frankie and Johnny (1966), which featured a small tuft of hair sticking out in the center of his forehead, like all of the caricatures you see of him. It wouldn't have been so bad if the rest of his hair wasn't all slicked back. The tousled look was good for him, as was the style of having all of the hair slicked straight back. This one was not his best.

Some of the parallels between Elvis's life and this and some of his other films strike me as interesting. First, the idea that an adult man would never dream of dating a teenager. Priscilla was no longer a teenager when this movie came out, but she did live with him when she was one. Second, the man who is single and carefree and is finally convinced (or forced) to settle down and marry. Again, cue reference to Priscilla. Of course it's entirely possible that the writers (if you can bestow that title upon them) were just trying to create what they thought to be a believable story, but you have to wonder if they had any inspiration or, perhaps, encouragement by a certain Colonel - not just for Double Trouble, but for others too. Just food for thought.

(Aside to Blofeld: I bet the outtakes from the Double Trouble soundtrack recording sessions are entertaining. I imagine some 4-letter words during the "Old MacDonald's Farm" tracks. Am I right?)

1 comment:

Blofeld's Cat said...

I havent seen DOUBLE TROUBLE in ages so I cant comment on the flick itself but this sports a soundtrack that isnt half bad (relatively speaking and, yes, excluding the execrable "Old MacDonald").

At one time, I thought "Long legged Girl (With the Short Dress On)" was the rockin'est song I ever heard.

I still think "I Love Only One Girl" is a cute song.

And "City By Night" is really a good song.

The outtakes provide a much bluesier version of "There's So Much World To See" that is really shockingly good (with an added verse too).

But then, oy, "Old MacDonald".