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Silly Elvis DVDs are just for fans

SHARE Silly Elvis DVDs are just for fans

When four new Elvis Presley DVDs landed on my desk, I said they were movies from his silly period. To which an astute friend responded, "That would be everything after his first three or four films."

Sad but true.

Presley debuted in a couple of pretty good pictures, "Love Me Tender" (1956) and "Loving You" (1957), followed by his two best movies, "Jailhouse Rock" (1957) and "King Creole" (1958). Then, he was drafted, served two years in the Army, and made his movie comeback in 1960 with, appropriately enough, "G.I. Blues." But whether he ever tried to act again after "King Creole" is debatable.

Anyway, to celebrate this week's anniversary of Presley's birth (Jan. 8, 1935), Paramount Home Video has released four no-frills DVDs, movies that went to theaters in 1962 and '63. Each pretty much follows the formula that drove Presley's pictures during the '60s: Elvis sings a forgettable song, Elvis is pursued by two women, Elvis sings a forgettable song, nameless young women in bikinis dance around or wander around, Elvis sings a forgettable song, Elvis has a fistfight with a rival, Elvis sings a forgettable song, Elvis has to choose between the two women, and . . . oh, yeah . . . Elvis sings a forgettable song.

He also sneers a lot, but the directors don't get much out of any of the actors here; the line readings are flat and everyone seems to be just phoning it in.

Still, back in the '60s, Elvis' fans — mostly starry-eyed girls — didn't much care. They went to the movies in droves just to stare at him, and all of his movies were box-office hits. My guess is, these will make nice Valentine's gifts.

"Girls! Girls! Girls!" (Paramount, 1962, PG, $19.99). Elvis is pretty surly in this one, as a charter-boat guide in Hawaii who is angry at the world while being pursued by both a rich young woman (Laurel Goodwin) — though he doesn't know she's rich — and a former flame who sings in a local club (Stella Stevens, whose voice is dubbed).

Typically mediocre Presley fare, save one hit song, "Return to Sender," which gives a genuine boost to the proceedings. Stevens is wearing a swimsuit on the cover's box art, but all her scenes are in the nightclub!

Extras: Widescreen, etc.

"Fun in Acapulco" (Paramount, 1963, PG, $19.99). As if she's parodying her famous entrance in the first James Bond movie, "Dr. No" (released the previous year), Ursula Andress' first scene here has her rising from the water in a bikini. A resort-hotel assistant social director, Andress competes with "lady bullfighter" Elsa Cardenas for the love of singer/lifeguard Elvis, who gets a job at the hotel, thanks to a streetwise kid.

"Bossa Nova Baby" is the only chart-topping hit on this film's playlist; most of the tunes are performed with a Latin twist. (And look for young Teri Garr as one of the dancers.)

Extras: Widescreen, etc.

"Paradise — Hawaiian Style" (Paramount, 1963, PG, $19.99). Here, Elvis is an airline pilot who's fired for his womanizing ways, but he's really just misunderstood. So he heads back to Hawaii and hooks up with an old pal (James Shigeta) to start a helicopter tour service.

This one is hampered by over-the-top silly sequences (as when he has to transport show dogs to one of the islands) and mediocre songs. Young Donna Butterworth (she was also the little girl in Jerry Lewis' "The Family Jewels") is a cute scene-stealer. And, surprisingly, the LDS Polynesian Cultural Center plays a prominent role in the film. But "Blue Hawaii" it ain't.

Extras: Widescreen, etc.

"Easy Come, Easy Go" (Paramount, 1963, PG, $19.99). Navy frogman Elvis discovers a treasure chest at the bottom of the sea. After he leaves the service, he teams up with his old nightclub partner (Pat Harrington), a yoga-loving free spirit (Dodie Marshall) and a former TV kiddie-show host (Frank McHugh) to get to the treasure before a rich adventure-seeker (Pat Priest) and her boyfriend (Skip Ward). Sluggish, silly, "Beach Party"-style stuff.

Extras: Widescreen, etc.


E-MAIL: hicks@desnews.com