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Imagine The Beverly Hillbillies as homesteaders on the coast of Florida with Elvis in the Jethro role and you've got a pretty fair description of Follow That Dream (1962). Elvis plays Toby Kwimper, a homeless army veteran who settles down with his father and four orphans on a stretch of beach where they can operate a fishing business. A good plan but there's a catch. The government and some local gangsters just won't leave them be.
Follow That Dream was filmed in Crystal River, Florida with additional locations in Tampa, Yankeetown, Inverness, Bird Creek, and Ocala which is where rock 'n roller Tom Petty got his first glimpse of the Tupelo legend. "It was a semi-religious experience," Petty recalled in a recent article in The Oxford American. "I mean, he glowed to me. I'd never seen anyone's hair dyed so black that it was blue - it shone blue in the front. He looked amazing.....that was how I fell in love with rock 'n roll records - and that was my only interest ever since."
While on location for Follow That Dream, Colonel Parker arranged for a special event at Weeki Wachee Spring that honored Elvis and included a special appearance in a huge water tank by the Elvis Presley Underwater Fan Club. But, for the most part, the film shoot was uneventful except for a brief romance between Presley and his leading lady, Anne Helm. Lots of titles were considered before Follow That Dream had a name. First, Pioneer, Go Home was the working title because the film was based on Richard Powell's novel of the same name. Then, the music composers couldn't come up with a rhyme for the word 'pioneer' in a title tune so they changed it to What a Wonderful Life. That title didn't fly either although it did become a song in the film. Here Comes the Kwimpers and It's a Beautiful Life were also considered before the producers came to their senses and chose Follow That Dream which just happens to be the standout song in the soundtrack. "Angel" is pretty memorable too but Elvis had a particular dislike for "Sound Advice" which he wanted to delete from the soundtrack album.
Director: Gordon Douglas
Producer: David Weisbart
Screenplay: Charles Lederer, based on the novel Pioneer, Go Home! by Richard Powell
Cinematography: Leo Tover
Editor: William B. Murphy
Art Direction: Mal Bert
Music: Hans J. Salter
Cast: Elvis Presley (Toby Kwimper), Arthur O'Connell (Pop Kwimper), Anne Helm (Holly Jones), Joanna Moore (Amanda Claypoole), Jack Kruschen (Carmine), Simon Oakland (Nick).
C-110m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Jeff Stafford