IT HAPPENED AT THE WORLD’S FAIR
(director: Norman Taurog; screenwriters: Si Rose/Seaman Jacobs; cinematographer: Joseph Ruttenberg; editor: Fredric Steinkamp; music: Leith Stevens; cast: Elvis Presley (Mike Edwards), Joan O’Brien (Diane Warren), Gary Lockwood (Danny Burke), Vicky Tiu (Sue-Lin), Kam Tong (Walter Ling), H.M. Wynant (Vince Bradley), Guy Raymond (Barney Thatcher), Dorothy Green (Miss Ettinger), Yvonne Craig (Dorothy Johnson), Kurt Russell (Kid); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ted Richmond; MGM; 1963)
“For die-hard Elvis fans and for lovers of flicks that are set at a World’s Fair.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
There’s the clean-cut Elvis playing the polite wolfish womanizer in another one of those bummer crowd-pleasing nice guy airhead formulaic Elvis pics his Colonel arranged for him. He’s a small airplane “bush” pilot, who lost his crop-duster plane to the sheriff due to the weakness for gambling by Danny Burke (Gary Lockwood), his co-pilot partner. A paper thin story results about the pilot partners getting a hitch to Seattle in Chinese farmer Walter Ling’s truck and Elvis taking Walter’s cute 7-year-old niece Sue-Lin (Vicky Tiu) to the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. The two eat Belgian waffles and take in the monorail, the Space Needle, the Skyride, the “Dream Car” exhibit, and the Floating City of Tomorrow. There Elvis meets on the cute pretty nice girl nurse Diane Warren (Joan O’Brien) when Sue-Lin has a belly-ache, but can’t get to first base with her until he pays a kid a quarter to kick him in the shins and get treated by her (the kid is Kurt Russell, making his second film appearance). When Walter fails to pickup Sue-Lin, Elvis takes charge of the kid, and they end up living in a trailer park due to Danny finding new card-playing friends. Then Danny’s gangster pal, Vince Bradley (H.M. Wynant), gives them $1200 to get their plane out of ice, but when the boys learn they are supposed to smuggle furs to Canada they turn against the gangster in a scuffle. Later on there’s a happy ending, as Sue-Lin is reunited with her uncle, who had a traffic accident, and Elvis is hooked up with the nurse. Danny is content to just be wearing a baseball hat with the initial W.
It all seemed about as real as a TV sitcom show about Martians. Norman Taurog’s (“Tickle Me”/”Palm Springs Weekend”/”Don’t Give Up the Ship”) hands are tied, as he can’t do anything with the bum screenplay turned in by Si Rose and Seaman Jacobs. If it’s for anyone, it’s for die-hard Elvis fans and for lovers of flicks that are set at a World’s Fair. Those in the know about such things, say this isn’t the worst Elvis film. But I would hate to see those that are worse.
There are ten forgettable Elvis slow tunes that are woven into the story: “I’m Falling in Love Tonight,”They Remind Me Too Much of You,” “Relax,” “Take Me to the Fair,” “How Would You Like To Be?”, “Beyond the Bend,” “One Broken Heart for Sale,” “Cotton Candy Land,””A World of Our Own,” and “Happy Ending.”
REVIEWED ON 1/9/2008 GRADE: C-