EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|HARUM SCARUM (director: Gene Nelson; screenwriter: Gerald Drayson Adams; cinematographer: Fred H. Jackman; editor: Ben Lewis; music: Fred Karger; cast: Elvis Presley (Johnny Tyronne), Mary Ann Mobley (Princess Shalimar), Fran Jeffries (Aishah), Michael Ansara (Prince Dragna), Jay Novello (Zacha), Philip Reed (King Toranshah), Suzanne Covington (Naja), Joey Russo (Yussef), Vicki Malkin (Sari), Theo Marcuse (Sinan), Billy Barty (Baba), Hugh Sanders (U.S. Ambassador); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Sam Katzman; MGM; 1965)|
provides lush sets, bosomy gals, colorful costumes,
and Elvis, which is probably all it needs to get the
throng of Elvis fans into the theaters."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
is Elvis Presley's nineteenth picture. At this time of
his career, he was making 3 films a year. In this
unimportant quickie, shot in 18 days on the studio's
back-lot, Elvis sings a number of forgetable songs ("Go East, Young Man,"
"Animal Instinct," "Shake That Tambourine," and the
title song), falls for an Arabian princess
and sleepwalks through the role of a Hollywood film
star forced into assassinating an Arabian sheik so the
evil Arabs could profit from granting oil rights to a
big oil company. The comedy is so lame it doesn't even
hold a candle to an average Abbott and Costello silly
romp. Former dancer Gene Nelson ("Kissin' Cousins")
earnestly directs, but
never can get it on track. The screenplay by Gerald
Drayson Adams is witless and clunky, and the acting is
dull; but the star is unscathed, as he can't be blamed
for doing what the formulaic scheme calls for--looking
pretty, being likable and singing when things get too
dull. MGM provides lush sets, bosomy gals, colorful
costumes, and Elvis, which is probably all it needs to
get the throng of Elvis fans into the theaters.
Johnny Tyronne (Elvis Presley) is a big
Hollywood movie star, who just completed an Arabian
swashbuckler film and has been asked by the state
department to go on a goodwill tour of the
Middle-East. At the showing of his movie in the
fictional Middle-East Arab country of Babalstan, in
the U.S. ambassador's house, Johnny meets the sultry Aishah (Fran Jeffries) and the oily Prince Dragna
is invited to Lunarkand to stay in the palace of the
prince's brother, King Toranshah (Philip Reed). Before reaching the
palace, his two hosts arrange for Johnny to be
kidnapped by the thuggish Arab Sinan (Theo Marcuse), head of a band of
Assassins. While in captivity Johnny arranges with the
con man Zacha
(Jay Novello) to escape, and meets and falls in love
with, at the market, the beautiful Princess Shalimar (Mary Ann Mobley, former Miss America). Shalimar tells him she's a slave.
When Johnny is recaptured, he's told by Sinan he must
Toranshah so his brother will get the throne. If he
doesn't, Sinan threatens to kill Johnny and the two
cute orphan kids (Joey Russo & Vicki Malkin), who are traveling with
the untrustworthy Zacha.
For further amusement throw
in Elvis doing karate, courting the good Arab
princess, and being helped by a frisky midget (Billy Barty) to fight with
the good Arabs against the bad ones to save the life
of the good king. The goofy film is tacky, tasteless
and mostly unappealing, even if it glitters like a Las
Vegas runway. Aside from the flashy sets and costumes,
this feeble pic resembles one of producer Sam
Katzman's usual schlocky cheap film.
REVIEWED ON 7/24/2011 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ