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MGM Studios DVD presents
"I don't want things easy. I want to be able to make my own mistakes and work 'em out."
DVD ReviewWith most Elvis movies after 1960, you pretty much know what you're getting. Elvis will star as someone improbable, he'll sing plenty of songs that you'll never hear again, and there will be plenty of lame comedy relief. Oh, and there will be numerous women but the female costar will end up with Elvis.
Clambake sticks to this tried and true formula. This time around, Elvis is oil heir Scott Hayward. In a desire to prove himself without his money, he pulls a Prince and the Pauper and swaps places with drifter Tom Wilson (Will Hutchins), who is on the way to take a job as a waterski instructor in Miami. Wilson lives it up in Scott's red convertible, spending freely and surrounding himself with a bevy of gorgeous women. Scott runs up against golddigger Dianne Carter (Shelley Fabares), who has her sights set on millionaire boat racer and pajama tycoon J.J. Jamison (Bill Bixby). Boat dealer Sam Burton (Gary Merrill) lets Elvis talk him into fixing up an old boat to enter into the big race. Predictable hijinks and romance ensue.
Elvis is earnest and likeable in this role, trying to do the right thing and make a success without the family name and bank account. Elvis notably takes on a degree in chemical engineering here, which I doubt was the case in any of his other movies. Fabares, who first made a name for herself as a teenager on The Donna Reed Show and is notable in recent years as Craig T. Nelson's love interest on Coach, is charming and cute as a button. Bixby is suitably smarmy and obnoxious, and James Gregory as Elvis' rich daddy is humorously cranky. The one false note is Will Hutchins' grossly overplayed yokel, but much of the fault lies with the script and the direction that makes him ridiculous way past buffoonery.
The songs are eminently forgettable. The most pleasing is the title song, which is rather forcibly shoehorned into the story. It's energetic though, and Elvis has a good time with it (and the many bikini-clad beauties gyrating to the tune are easy on the eyes). There is one abominably bad stinker, a High Hopes ripoff called Confidence, sung to a bunch of kids on a playground. It's painfully awful, and the forced cuteness is truly vomitous. It's clear Elvis didn't think much of the song himself; he seems to be sleepwalking through it and doesn't even bother to stretch for the higher notes, making the chorus more than a little flat. It's absolutely excruciating, even for a song in an Elvis movie.
Other than that gross miscarriage of cinema, Clambake is a harmless and inoffensive little piece that is amusing and occasionally even charming. Worth a look (but skip over the Confidence number if you value your sanity!). Heck, how can you hate a movie with a Flipper cameo?
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C
Image Transfer Review: The nonanamorphic widescreen picture is soft and lacking in detail throughout. Much of the time, the color is a bit washed out, although there are other segments that look just fine. It's probably just as well, though, because the movie is crammed full of lousy back projection; if the picture were higher quality that would be even more obnoxious than it is. Black levels are acceptable except in the back projection material.
Image Transfer Grade: C-
Audio Transfer Review: The audio is not any better than the picture. While the dialogue is generally clear and there is only minimal hiss, the 2.0 mono sound is not terribly friendly to the music, which sound quite tinny and thin throughout. Elvis' vocals sound all right in general, however, so the main reason anyone might be interested is satisfied adequately. The Spanish track is even thinner; the Elvis songs are properly kept in the original on the Spanish track (really, what would be the point of dubbing over Elvis vocals?).
Audio Transfer Grade: C-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Extras Review: The sole extra is an overhyped and rather speckly trailer. Chaptering is adequate, although I'd have preferred a chapter stop for each song (most important for purposes of skipping over Confidence).
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsTypical Elvis fare, in a lackluster mono transfer, without notable extras. Worth a rental, maybe, if you're looking for a frothy musical comedy that's mostly harmless.
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