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Director: Arthur Nadel, Ladislav Smocek & Vladimir Sis (Geez!)

USA - 1967

        Hoff! Hoff!         


In a world where nothing is more important than the almighty dollar, Scott Heyward has everything: Money, fast cars, good looks, flashy duds and even flashier women.  A guy couldn’t ask for much more.  Howdy!

Well, most guys couldn’t.   But Scott Heyward isn’t most guys. 

Scott is looking for love.  True love.  He doesn’t want women to love him for the money, the yachts, or his mansion in Memphis.  Scott wants a woman to love Scott for Scott. 

On the other side of the spectrum is Tom Wilson.  Tom is a ski instructor at a posh beach resort.  He’s flat broke, a bit goofy (OK, a lot goofy), and has no luck with the ladies.  Tom would kill for a chance to have everything handed to him on a silver platter.

Do you see where this is going yet?Helmet laws come second to the King's coiffure

Faster than you can say ”Trading Places“, Scott and Tom assume each other’s identities.  Scott is determined to find true love, and Tom is determined to find a good lay.  Or any lay, for that matter. 

Almost immediately after assuming his new position at the hotel, Scott meets Dianne Carter.  Dianne is the girl of Scott’s dreams: Beautiful, intelligent, and middle class.  But in a sad twist of irony, Dianne looking to land a rich husband.  She’s tired of struggling to get by, and wants a taste of the good life. 

Undaunted, Scott decides to win Dianne’s heart by winning the big boat race (a ploy most guys can identify with).  UnfoWhat won't the ladies do to impress Elvis?rtunately, Scott has no boat and no money.  And worse yet, the competition proves to be rather stiff.  The rich, handsome and arrogant James Jameson (Bill Bixby!) has his sights set on not only winning the big race, but speeding away with Dianne as well!

Elvis’ work in film has always been the subject of ridicule.  With that in mind, I expected the very worst from Clambake, my first Presley movie.  Being a fan of his music, I’m happy to report that Elvis doesn’t make a complete ass of himself in the film.  Elvis’ acting, for the most part, is competent; and what he lacks as a thespian is concealed by that undeniable Presley charisma (or swagger, if you will).  The guy has that rare intangible quality that demands attention whenever he’s on-screen.  It’s sad that he isn’t given very much to work with.

Try as he may, Elvis brings nothing new to the character of “unbelievably good Science!guy”.  Describing Scott Heyward as “cliché” would be an understatement: He loves children, hates fame and wealth, helps friends in need and is always available to offer some good advice.  Scott can also carry a tune and water-ski!  The man’s a saint!  The only thing preventing Elvis from gaining Gandhi-like status is a mean right-hook.  Elvis may be a nice guy, but he’s no sissy!

Unfortunately, the characters aren’t the only thing that suffers from a distinct lack of originality.  The “Prince and the Pauper” storyline has been recycled countless times.  Clambake offers nothing new.  Granted, few films can boast a cast featuring the King of Rock and Roll and the Incredible Hulk, but there’s got to be a little "...and something ends..."more.  There are a few attempts at wackiness, but the majority of them fall flat.  Action and adventure?  Nah!  The songs are OK, but considering the source, I was left disappointed:

“Clambake!” – The title song.  Horrendous.  The lyrics consist of:  “Clambake!  We’re gonna have a clam-bake!”  Repeat 231 times.

“Who Needs Money?” – This is a duet between Scott and Tom.  As you might have guessed, Elvis sings all the parts concerning the pointlessness of material wealth while Tom provides the counterpoint.  It’s not bad, and it moves the plot along.

“Everything But Love.” – But I won’t do that.  Actually, this is yet another song where Elvis condemns material wealth, claiming all you need is love.  Not a bad ballad.

"You are now all my minions!  Kneel!"

“Confidence.” – This, without a doubt, is the low point of the film.  While passing through a playground, Scott and Tom happen across a little girl who has a fear of slides.  After Elvis sings her a little ditty about confidence, however, the little girl becomes Queen of the Playground.  “Confidence” features children singing and dancing, which somehow evolves into a battle of cowboys, Indians and the ice cream man.  The whole number is just bad, bad, bad, bad, bad.  The highlight has Elvis spelling “confidence” with help from the children:

Elvis:  With a…

Children:  C!

Elvis:  And a…

Children:  O!

Elvis:  And a…

Children:  N!

Elvis:  And a…

Children:  F!

You get the point. 

“You Don’t Know Me.” – Another ballad.  Frustrated that the girl of his dreams is blinded by another man’s money, Elvis croons about how she doesn’t truly know him.  Or something.

"We'll get some overhead lifters, and four barrel quads, oh yeah..."

“Hey!  Hey!  (We’re Gonna Build Us a Boat.)” – Think “Greased Lightning” with half the catchiness and a boat instead of a hot rod.

“The Girl I Never Loved.”  Yet another ballad.  Will Elvis ever find true love?  We wonder. 

All in all, Clambake wasn’t too hard to handle.  I may have had my guard up going in, but I honestly didn’t find the experience completely awful.  I will, however, remain cautious.  Elvis’ films haven’t gained such a bad reputation for no reason.  I’m sure the worst is yet to come.




--Copyright 2003, J. Bannerman





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