|The Trouble with Girls|
|Directed by||Peter Tewksbury|
by Day Keene and Dwight V. Babcock
|Produced by||Lester Welch|
|Cinematography||Jacques R. Marquette|
|Edited by||Al Clark|
|Music by||Billy Strange|
|June 1969 (Dayton, Ohio)|
September 10, 1969 (Los Angeles)
The Trouble with Girls, the full title of which is The Trouble with Girls (and How to Get into It), is a 1969 film directed by Peter Tewksbury and starring Elvis Presley. It was one of Presley's final acting roles, along with the same year's Change of Habit. It is based on the 1960 novel Chautauqua by Day Keene and Dwight Vincent Babcock.
In a small Iowa town in 1927, a traveling Chautauqua company arrives, with internal squabbles dividing the troupe. The new manager, Walter Hale (Elvis Presley), is trying to prevent Charlene, the troupe's "Story Lady" (Marlyn Mason), from recruiting the performers to form a union.
Meanwhile, the town has a scandal following the murder of the local pharmacist Wilby (Dabney Coleman). Although a shady gambler is arrested, Walter realizes that the real killer is Nita (Sheree North), one of Wilby's employees.
Walter successfully gets Nita to confess during a Chautauqua performance, where she makes public the sexual harassment that Wilby directed at her. Nita's self-defense plea frees the wrongly jailed man, but Charlene is outraged that Walter used the crime to financially enrich the Chautauqua, and attempts to quit.
Walter attempts to reason with Charlene, but when she refuses to give in, he deceives her and uses the local police force to be sure that she must leave on the train with the rest of the troupe.
- Elvis Presley as Walter Hale
- Marlyn Mason as Charlene
- Nicole Jaffe as Betty Smith
- Sheree North as Nita Bix
- Edward Andrews as Johnny
- John Carradine as Mr. Drewcolt
- Vincent Price as Mr. Morality
- Dabney Coleman as Harrison Wilby
- Duke Snider as The Cranker
- Anissa Jones as Carol Bix
- John Rubinstein as Princeton College kid
- Frank Welker as Rutgers College kid
- Joyce Van Patten as The Swimmer
- Susan Olsen as Auditioning Singer
- Anissa Jones, best known for playing Buffy on the television program Family Affair, made her only film appearance in The Trouble with Girls.
- Nicole Jaffe and Frank Welker went on to become regular members of the voice cast for the Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon Scooby-Doo, which debuted on CBS ten days after the release of The Trouble with Girls.
Production and release
In June 1959 it was announced that Don Mankiewicz would write a screenplay of an unpublished story by Mauri Grashin, Day Keene, and Dwight Babcock. By December 1960, with the project titled Chautauqua, MGM was ready to make the film with Glenn Ford. Rumours circulating in Hollywood at the time stated that Presley would co-star with Ford, Hope Lange, and Arthur O'Connell, but nothing came of it and the film was shelved.
In 1964, Dick Van Dyke had been signed up to star in a film titled Chautauqua based on a book called Morally We Roll Along by Gay MacLaren. After several years of failed screenplays and cast changes, MGM sold the rights to Columbia Pictures in May 1965. Columbia also struggled to get the project off the ground, and in April 1968 sold the rights back to MGM. This time MGM lined up Presley to star and production began in the fall of 1968. Chautauqua was the working title, but it was later changed to The Trouble with Girls when the producers worried that audiences would not understand the title or be able to pronounce it.
Colonel Tom Parker, Presley's manager, originally wanted actress Jean Hale for the female lead, but Marlyn Mason was cast at the insistence of director Peter Tewksbury. Ironically, Jean Hale's husband, Dabney Coleman, would later be cast.
The Trouble with Girls (and How to Get into It) performed poorly in cinemas but strongly on the drive-in circuit.
Roger Greenspun of The New York Times called it "a charming though ineptly titled comedy" with Presley performing "a reasonably developed characterization as the chautauqua company manager, and he sings very well." Variety wrote, "Elvis Presley is lost in this one. Without star’s usual assortment of 10 to 12 songs, and numbers cut down to a bare three, picture has little to offer. Title suggests a gay comedy but it’s a mass of contrived melodramatics and uninteresting performances that do not jell into anything but program fare." Margaret Harford of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the film "never makes up its mind where to go and how to get there ... The trouble with the picture is not girls; it's indecision by the writers, Arnold and Lois Peyser about whether we should laugh at the corny entertainment of 40-odd years ago, or cry over the troubles of a lonely widow who drinks too much." The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote, "The plot's rather curious blend of amateur theatricals, folksy humour and straight melodrama strains credulity even for a Presley film, and the few songs are instantly forgettable. Vincent Price makes an odd and quite appealing guest appearance as an itinerant lecturer known as Mr. Morality, but Presley himself seems uninterested in the whole affair."
While it met with generally poor reviews on release, post Presley’s death critics re-visited the film and started to acknowledge its merits – interesting narrative, strong supporting cast, authentic period feel and innovative filming techniques.
Entering the studio for The Trouble with Girls, Presley found himself in the position of knowing he had the goods in the can with his looming comeback television special but given that his last three singles – "You'll Never Walk Alone," "Your Time Hasn't Come Yet Baby," "A Little Less Conversation" – and the Speedway album all tanked, faced a practically dead recording career. The soundtrack contained some minor songs, its only distinctive track by Billy Strange, the producer of the session, and Mac Davis.
The recording session took place at United Artists Recorders in Hollywood, on October 23, 1968. "Clean Up Your Own Backyard" by Strange and Davis, their fourth successful submission to a Presley soundtrack in a row, was the only one released concurrently with the film's release, as the single RCA 47-9747 in 1969, peaking at #35 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Almost" would appear in 1970 on the budget album Let's Be Friends, the only other track from the film to be released during Presley's lifetime. His remake of the His Hand in Mine track "Swing Down Sweet Chariot" would not see release until 1983 on Elvis: A Legendary Performer Volume 4. The other songs would wait to be issued until RCA's soundtrack compilations of the 1990s combining released songs and outtakes from multiple films on one compact disc.
- "Clean Up Your Own Backyard" (Billy Strange and Mac Davis)
- "Swing Down Sweet Chariot" (traditional, arranged by Elvis Presley)
- "Signs of the Zodiac" (Buddy Kaye and Ben Weisman, Duet with Marlyn Mason)
- "Almost" (Buddy Kaye and Ben Weisman)
- "The Whiffenpoof Song" (Ted Galloway, Meade Minnigerode, George Pomeroy; not used in film)
- "Violet (Flower of NYU)" (Steven Dueker and Peter Lohstroh) – The second adaptation in Presley's career of the American Civil War song "Aura Lee" from 1861, the first being the song "Love Me Tender".
- In some versions of the soundtrack, "Doodle Doo Doo" is included, performed by Linda Sue Risk, who plays Lily-Jeanne, the mayor's daughter. In the film, the song is performed by Anissa Jones, who plays Carol Bix.
- Elvis Presley – vocals
- The Blossoms, The Mello Men – backing vocals
- Jack Halloran, Ronald Hicklin, Marilyn Mason – backing vocals
- Roy Caton – trumpet
- Lew McCreary – trombone
- Buddy Collette – clarinet
- Joseph Gibbons, Gerald McGee, Morton Marker – electric guitar
- Don Randi – piano
- Max Bennett – bass
- John Guerin, Frank Carlson – drums
The Trouble With Girls was released to DVD by Warner Home Video on August 7, 2007, as a Region 1 widescreen DVD.
- "The Trouble with Girls - Details". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
- "Anissa Jones filmography". AllMovie Guide. Retrieved April 9, 2009.
- Lawson, Tim and Persons, Alisa (2004). The Magic Behind the Voices: A Who's Who of Cartoon Voice Actors. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi. Pg. 325. ISBN 157806696-4
- Worth, Fred. Elvis: His Life from A To Z. pp. 299–301.
- The name of the book is incorrectly given as "Merrily We Roll Along" in Worth, Fred. Elvis: His Life from A To Z. pp. 299–301.
- Lisanti, Tom (2003). Drive-In Dream Girls: A Galaxy of B-movie Starlets of the Sixties. McFarland. pp. 118–122. ISBN 0-7864-1575-4.
- Michael A. Hoey, Elvis' Favorite Director: The Amazing 52-Film Career of Norman Taurog, Bear Manor Media 2013
- Greenspun, Roger (December 11, 1969). "Trouble With Girls". The New York Times. Retrieved April 9, 2009.
- Greenspun, Roger (December 11, 1969). "Trouble With Girls". The New York Times. 63.
- "Film Reviews: The Trouble With Girls". Variety. May 14, 1969. 6.
- Harford, Margaret (September 13, 1969). "'Trouble With Girls' No. 30 for Presley". Los Angeles Times. Part II, p. 7.
- "The Trouble with Girls". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 37 (432): 18. January 1970.
- Jorgensen pp. 261–262
- Jorgensen, pp. 260, 419.
- Jorgensen, Ernst. Elvis Presley A Life in Music: The Complete Recording Sessions. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998
- The Trouble with Girls at IMDb
- The Trouble with Girls at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Trouble with Girls at the TCM Movie Database
- Comprehensive review by Chad Plambeck at 3-B Theater
- Review by Jon Danziger at digitallyOBSESSED!, August 2, 2004.
- Review by Bill Treadway at DVD Verdict, July 23, 2004.