Top positive review
Elvis does Karate, the Wall of Death and Colourful Carnie Cuddling.
7 July 2012
Released the same year as Viva Las Vegas, Roustabout is often viewed as one of the lesser lights in Elvis' 1960s movie output. Which is a shame given that it has vitality in abundance, sees the King playing a two dimensional character, features the professional workings of Barbara Stanwyck and Leif Erickson and is beautifully staged and photographed (Lucien Ballard) amongst a Carnival backdrop.
Plot sees Presley as night club singer Charlie Rogers who has a big chip on his shoulder, getting into yet another fight he gets fired and via a motorcycle run in with Maggie Morgan (Stanwyck) and Joe Lean (Erickson), ends up working at Maggie's carnival operation while he waits for his bike to be fixed. He has his eyes on Joe's daughter, Cathy (Joan Freeman), but Joe, himself carrying a heavy burden, has a big dislike for the young upstart. With the bank closing in ready to close the struggling carnival, hope may come in the form of Charlie's singing attributes, but will he stay? Will he be lured away by a lucrative offer from a rival Carnie promoter? With Charlie struggling to ingratiate himself to the Carnie way of life, and him constantly failing to show his true emotions to win around a hard to convince Cathy, the odds against him staying seems short.
Well how do you think it's going to end? Exactly the way you expect it too of course. But there is great fun and frolics along the way and it is a true spirit raising finale. The clutch of songs are not the best, though the beautiful tenderness of "Big Love, Big Heartache" and the interesting take on "Little Egypt" are reason enough to be pleased with the musical contributions. Presley delivers a good turn, a nifty blend of rebel yell and housewives baby, the carnival atmosphere is well born out and crucially the film manages to not undersell the graft that carnival workers did to put on a show for the public's entertainment. It also opens up a game for spotters of future "names", see if you can spot Raquel Welch, Teri Garr and Richard Kiel in teeny tiny roles.
A lovely enjoyable Elvis film, foot tapping and smiles guaranteed, and the King, quite frankly, rocks in this one. 7/10