Elvis Presley. Elvis The Pelvis. The King. Despite the fact that you'll still find people who disagree, I am one of the many who rate Elvis as the undisputed king of rock. His manner, his swagger, his looks, his talent. Okay, he had numerous flaws but I've never seen anyone else with such a great mix of humour, confidence and sheer PRESENCE. Which all means that, almost inevitably, many of his movie outings were pretty poor - nothing more than an excuse to form any kind of star-led vehicle that could be thrown into cinemas to get bums on seats. And, as far as I know, it worked.
This light confection sees Elvis ending up, as if you couldn't guess, at the World's Fair. He's there thanks to his partner and friend, a man who can't get a grip on his gambling habit, and it's not long before he, ummmm, befriends the daughter of the man who allowed them to hitch-hike on the back of his truck. Yes, that's right. This movie sees a hitch-hiking Elvis left with the daughter of a man he just met and being allowed to look after her as if he was a rent-a-nanny. Meanwhile, he also falls for a woman (Joan O'Brien) who shuts him down at every opportunity and he remains oblivious to the fact that his partner and friend may be getting them both into even more trouble. There's also a movie debut from a teeny tiny Kurt Russell as a kid who kicks Elvis in the shin.
I enjoyed It Happened At The World's Fair and I would easily recommend it to all Elvis fans. Oh, it's no work of cinematic greatness but it's a fast-paced bit of fun that benefits from the central performances - Elvis being so Elvis-like, Joan O'Brien being resistant to his charms, Gary Lockwood as the gambling Danny Burke, Vicky Tiu as little Sue-Lin and Kurt Russell as the shin kicker.
The script by Si Rose and Seaman Jacobs does everything it needs to do and the same can be said for the direction by Norman Taurog. Jailhouse Rock remains, in my opinion, the best movie that Elvis ever made but this one is at least a step or two above his very worst.