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Warner Home Video presents
"If you've got nothing to do but listen for the rest of your life, I can start to explain it to you."
DVD ReviewMaking a movie with Elvis Presley and not letting him sing is like using Smarty Jones for kiddie rides—you've got a world-class thoroughbred, and it's a crime not to let him run. That's the real disappointment with The Trouble With Girls—Presley gets top billing, of course, but he's not given much to do; he was never an actor of great range, but even in the worst of his throwaway pictures, he got at least a couple of scenes to stop the show with musical numbers of varying quality. So it's an odd choice of a project; even odder is the decision to put Presley in a period piece. The movie wants to be a bit of Americana—it's set in the pre-Crash 1920s, and Elvis plays Walter Hale, impresario of the Chautauqua, a traveling tent show. The story takes place over the course of the show's weeklong stay in a small Iowa town, and is principally about the mischief perpetrated and catalyzed when show folk come calling.
The tent show is part circus, part musical revue, part revival meeting; there's nothing quite like it anymore, and the film occasionally lards on the nostalgia, especially with its opening and closing voice-overs. The Chautauqua is like a nimble-fingered hurricane blowing through town—you end up exhausted and with your pockets a little lighter when it's gone, but you've got a story to tell, enough to hold you over until next year's return engagement. Lots of time is spent on getting the locals enthusiastic about the show—the town children and their pushy, aspiring stage parents are particularly forceful on this score, getting all the kids who can carry a tune (and many who can't) to audition. Which means that we're in for little kids singing songs like Toot Toot Tootsie, Goodbye—one of those kids, in fact, is a very young Susan Olsen, only months away from forever becoming Cindy Brady—watched over by the show's ringleader. He seems happy enough doing this, but for us, as an audience, the thought has got to be: come on, Elvis. Sing something.
The principal plot elements surround the amorous advances of the local drugstore owner (a young and smarmy Dabney Coleman) toward a widowed mother, played by Sheree North, and the troubles you get into slinking around on the sly. North, in fact, is asked to carry a lot of the burden of the storytelling, and, hobbled by a weak script, she's not really up to the task. In the second half of the picture, she has an extended, painful, unfunny drunk sequence; Presley looks bemused and tries halfheartedly to sober her up, but from our perspective, the horses have long since left the barn on this one.
Finally, though, he does sing, and it's a pretty rousing number (Clean Up Your Own Backyard); he also does a couple of bars of gospel, one of the few instances of Presley's church influence showing up in his movies. Otherwise, this largely misguided bit of filmmaking is notable principally for a cameo from Vincent Price, as Mr. Morality, a seer of sorts; and by lots of weird low-angle P.O.V. shots, in a vain attempt to gin up some visual interest.
Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: C
Image Transfer Review: There are some serious resolution problems with this transfer, made all the more stark by the costume designer's taste for seersucker. Colors are generally pretty faded, too.
Image Transfer Grade: C
Audio Transfer Review: A fair amount of hiss and buzz make this one a tough listen.
Audio Transfer Grade: C
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Spinout, Speedway, Double Trouble
Extras Review: Only some Presley trailers.
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsA deliberately old-fashioned, cornpone picture, there's a whole lot of trouble with ineptly titled The Trouble With Girls. The filmmakers don't let Elvis be Elvis, and we're all much the poorer for it.
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