[box cover]

Frankie and Johnny (1966)

Elvis movies are — with the exception of his first couple films — both weightless and formless. For a man known for those all-too-sexual hips, there's always a chaste love interest, and the stories tend to end with the intimation of marriage. The movies would be typed as comedies if they were a tad funnier, though there are more "jokes" than real laughs. There are musical numbers, but these aren't real musicals, and there's not a lot of dancing — Elvis was kept from showing the moves in movies that made him famous as a live performer. And sometimes he got stuck in period pictures, such as 1966's Frankie and Johnny, meaning Elvis would not be doing anything too rock and roll. During the Watergate investigation, "Deep Throat" advised to "follow the money," and the amount of cash Presley was paid to make such staid entertainment like this is likely the cause of his cinematic gentrification. But, really, what's the point of making a movie with Elvis Presley that you can take your grandparents to? Frankie and Johnny follows Elvis as Johnny, a riverboat performer and degenerate gambler who wastes all of his and pianist Cully's (Harry Morgan) spare cash on any game of chance available. Trying to break his unending losing streak, he consults with a gypsy, who tells him a redhead will bring him luck. Such doesn't go over well with his love-interest Frankie (Donna Douglas) when that woman, Nellie Bly (Nancy Kovack), shows up and does lead to a huge score for Johnny. Along the way, Cully writes the title song, which turns out to be a big hit, but the casino owner is in love with Nellie and is threatened by Johnny's attraction to Nell. There's not much of a movie here, but it's all rather painless. And when it comes to Elvis Presley's later movies, maybe that's saying something. MGM/Fox presents Frankie and Johnny in non-anamorphic widescreen (1.66:1) with monaural DD 2.0 audio. Theatrical trailer; slimline case in "The Elvis Presley MGM Legends Collection" set.
—DSH



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