Yes, it was so good, Karen, that when I formed a band in 1994, we named our first album The Greatest Show on Earth, which started a tradition in the band that all of our albums would be named after films, and they have been to this day.
Anyway, the film I had in mind when I first came on to the forum this morning was the film Roustabout, from 1964, and a film that was well known for many reasons. First of all, and you know what's coming, it was the fifteenth film featuring rock legend Elvis Presley, and it came at a time when even he must have realised that the standard of movie scripts he was getting was never going to improve. The film was produced by the legendary Hal B. Wallis, who was essentially using the money earned from Presley's movies (Roustabout was Wallis' seventh Presley film) to fund more expensive, quality productions such as the multiple Oscar®-nominated Becket (1964). Presley discovered this when reading a Hollywood trade magazine, and was understandably annoyed with both Wallis and his manager Colonel Tom Parker, who had basically done all the deals behind the singer's back.
Yet Presley was never less than professional and always turned up for work, called the producer 'Mr. Wallis,' and never gave his director any trouble whatsoever. Thus came Roustabout, the story of a singer (surprise, surprise!) riding a motorcycle, drifting aimlessly having been fired from his previous job for fighting. He spots a Jeep driven by Joe (Leif Erickson), driving his daughter (Joan Freeman) that Charlie (Elvis) begins to flirt with. Also in the Jeep is Joe and Cathy's employer, Maggie, whom I have left until last because she is played by the great Barbara Stanwyck, whose last cinematic film this was to be.
Roustabout is also notable for its soundtrack album, which contained eleven songs sung by Presley during the film. Quite how it happened, I'll never know, but this album rose all the way to the No.1 spot on the Billboard album chart! I know! After The Beatles had had several chart-topping albums that year! The standard of the songs on Presley's album is very mediocre indeed, nowhere near his best, and it was pretty much a 'last hurrah' for his soundtrack albums, none of which charted highly again. Listening to the album, you can almost feel Presley's complete disinterest jumping out of the speakers - hardly surprising since all the songs were recorded in one overnight session.
There we are - I'm sorry to bring in two in a row, but this was the film I had in mind to bring in the first place because I had fairly assumed that The Greatest Show on Earth would already be here. Roustabout was more or less the mid-way point in Presley's film career, and it was perhaps the inclusion of Barbara Stanwyck in the cast that gave this film the added amount of respectability, and therefore extra dollars at the box office. x
I haven't seen Roustabout, Stephen, but I assume it has a circus or carnival in it somewhere...?
Great photo of two legends.
If I have counted correctly, the next entry should be #17.
17. Freaks - This 1932 horror film by Tod Browning has become something of a cult classic. The story concerns sideshow "freaks," played by actual sideshow performers with various physical anomalies. The documentary that came with my disk was as fascinating as the movie itself.
Here's a trailer:
This is an interesting article from the site Birth.Movies.Death, written by Devin Faraci: