Comedy · Musical

Guilty Pleasure: Elvis in Spinout

Look out, girls – Elvis is in town. Image:
Look out, girls! Elvis is in town. Image: The Memphis Flash

One of our newest guilty pleasures is the 1966 Elvis Presley comedy, Spinout.

Now, as is usually the case with guilty pleasures, there are several reasons why you should not watch this film, namely:

  • A non-progressive view of women
  • A flimsy plot
  • Presley’s, uh, “minimalist” acting style

In Spinout, Presley plays a race-car-driving musician who is perpetually on tour thoughout the United States. But, when he and his band arrive in Santa Barbara, he discovers three women are determined to marry him and – eww! – domesticate him. Presley’s character likes women, but not enough to marry any of ’em.

Nevertheless, the hapless women who’ve decided they cannot live without him are:

  1. A writer (Diane McBain) who views him as the Perfect American Male
  2. A rich society girl (Shelley Fabares) who shares his interest in fast cars
  3. A drummer (Deborah Walley) who’s secretly in love with him

So the question becomes, Whom shall he marry? And, will he win the Big Car Race at the end of the film!

Other questions in the film include:

  • How come Elvis’ hair never moves, even when he’s racing his convertible?
  • How come he never carries his own luggage?
  • What, exactly, do these movie women see in this character?

Now that we’ve given you every reason to dislike this film, here are the reasons why we can’t get enough of it.

Elvis spies on Diane McBain, who's spying on him; Image:
Elvis confronts nosey Diane McBain. Image: Graceland.com
Reason #1: The Script

Yes, we said there isn’t much of a plot in this film, but there are plenty o’ laugh-out-loud lines. For example, in one scene, Presley is getting ready to race Fabares’ father (Carl Betz):

Presley: “I’m going to beat the pants off you.”
Betz: “I’ll be waiting for you at the finish line. We’ll see who’s got pants.”

Reason #2: The Actors

There are some terrific performances in this film. Fabares, who starred with Presley in three films, is winsome as the rich girl who unapologetically uses her father’s money and influence. Betz is delightful as her powerful, boss-of-the-world father, who does whatever it takes to come out on top. However, the best performance, in our opinion, is the charming Walley, who is the heart of Spinout.

Reason #3: The Colours

There is nothing subtle about this movie, which is evident in the 3-ring-circus color scheme. No neutral shades here! The sets are delightfully and obviously fake, which is helpful in promoting the wonderfully distracting wardrobe. Even the props are amusement-park ready: Betz’s roadster, which looks like a mini Batmobile, is painted a glittery metallic gold.

Reason #4: The Food

Take our advice: Do not watch this film if you’re hungry. Some of the characters are gourmet cooks and are forever creating fabulous dishes, such as freshly-grilled steak, tangy bearnaise sauce, cream-kissed chocolate mousse and melt-in-your-mouth cantaloupe glacé – to name just a few. These people have a way of talking about food that will cause you great dissatisfaction with regular movie snacks.

See? Doesn't this look like fun? Image: Doctor Macro
It’s always a party when Elvis is around. Image: Dr. Macro
Reason #5: Oh, right! The Music

Presley may not be a renowned actor, but as a singer he always puts on a good show. He sings plenty o’ catchy 1960s tunes in Spinout, and it’s easy to see why he became (and remains) a legend. Click HERE for a snappy example.

There were three Elvis movies released in 1966, including Spinout. In total, Presley made 31 (!) films, some more highly regarded than others. If you’ve never seen an Elvis Presley movie, we recommend Spinout.

Spinout: starring Elvis Presley, Shelley Fabares, Deborah Walley. Directed by Norman Taurog. Written by Theodore J. Flicker and George Kirgo. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1966, Metrocolor, 93 mins.

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28 thoughts on “Guilty Pleasure: Elvis in Spinout

  1. My dad loves Elvis movies and introduced this one to me. I didn’t get to see the first 15 minutes, but I enjoyed what I saw, especially the things you highlighted. (From what I can remember, the girl drummer was my favorite of the three love interests.) I’ve had this sitting in my DVR for months to re-watch it — maybe this weekend I’ll finally get to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When it comes to rock ‘n roll, there’s no question Elvis is king.
    When it comes to film however, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t often slip my mind that the same Mr. Presley was a frequent silver screen star. Probably won’t check this one out, but are there any Elvis movies that are legitimately good?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope you don’t mind me dropping my opinion here in response to That Other Critic. I haven’t seen all of the Elvis flicks, but the general consensus seems to be that Blue Hawaii is one of his best. My personal favorite is Viva Las Vegas with Ann-Margret. The songs are great, William Demarest has a good part, and Ann-Margret was truly Elvis’s match in every way. This number pretty much sums it up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j49tfLtAq6s

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like rather a hoot (and I’m hungry already)! I’ve only seen one Elvis Presley film so far, though I admit I saw Roustabout mostly because Barbara Stanwyck was in it and the costumes were done by Edith Head. But it was so unpretentious, it was hard to dislike.

    “How come Elvis’ hair never moves, even when he’s racing his convertible?” When I watch this movie I am going to look for that and ponder on it!

    Like

  4. Your post is even more fun than the movie itself! I enjoyed reading this immensely!
    Poor Elvis, he wanted to be a serious actor but had to do these cookie-cutter roles over and over…
    Elvis must be in the air for some reason, my latest blog post is on his last movie a couple years after Spinout–Change of Habit with Mary Tyler Moore.
    -Chris

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve never actually watched an entire Elvis movie, though I’ve seen a few minutes here and there, so I appreciate the recommendation. This sounds like an entertaining one, and your review is very entertaining too!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey, I’ll watch any movie with the under-appreciated Deborah Walley and Daine McBain. Both were 1960s starlets who deserved better roles in better films. I’m not a big Elvis fan, but he was OK in his pics and I’m a sucker for 1960s musicals (or films with songs…).

    Like

  7. He made 31 films?! 😳 I had no idea. Sorry. They’re not going on my list. I’ve only made it through parts of a few of his films. However… Since I like you so much (and you’ve earned my trust) I will watch this one. With some cheesy popcorn. I think that’s fitting even if they try to temp me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, can you believe THIRTY-ONE FILMS?! I was stunned.

      There is lots to enjoy in this film as long as you don’t go in with high expectations. The cast in this film is quite talented, and I feel they make the experience worth it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Elvis was an icon… Singer, actor and such a talented, good looking Guy.
    I much enjoyed your review and the way you presented the different points here.
    I would like to learn more about Elvis… Do you know any documentary which you would recommend?… 🔆
    Sending Best wishes. Aquileana ☀️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. An interesting look at Elvis as performer is the 1970 documentary “Elvis: That’s the Way It Is”. It gives a behind-the-scenes look at Elvis’ big show in Vegas, but more importantly, it gives you a very good sense of Elvis as a big star. I gained a whole new appreciation for him after watching it.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Now, Ruth. You know that I’ve followed wherever you’ve led — and enjoyed the ride. Elvis Presley, however, may be a bridge too far. I’ve never been a fan and I have seen plenty of him. Perhaps that’s the problem. For me, a little Elvis goes a long way and I’ve seen a whole lotta Elvis. It’s been a long time, though, and maybe time’s passing will give me a new appreciation. That’s a tall order but we’ll see.

    Liked by 1 person

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