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In 1967 MGM released Double Trouble, number twenty-four in a long line of features tailored especially for the talents of the King of Rock and Roll - Elvis Presley. In true Elvis form, the film featured several gorgeous women who entered and exited the plot with revolving door precision while Presley crooned tunes; this time he played Guy Lambert, a touring American singer (massive acting stretch!). Lambert is being pursued by two women, hence double the trouble, one of whom is a teenage heiress played by Annette Day. Traveling on his European tour, he's also being chased by jewel thieves and detectives, since stolen loot has been hidden in his luggage. Will Lambert be able to escape the thieves and bumbling detectives? Will Guy get the girl (groan)? If you've seen any Elvis flicks, you probably know the formula by heart
Double Trouble was originally called You're Killing Me, a working title that perhaps wasn't so far off the mark for some. Still a year out from his comeback television special, the King was in a slump. His movies were not faring well at the box office, and his musical offerings weren't doing any better on the charts. Recording sessions for the Double Trouble tracks were difficult; Elvis was disappointed at the content, and for good reason: the film soundtrack failed to produce a single bona-fide hit. The closest contender was "Long Legged Girl (With the Short Dress On)," which topped out at number sixty-three. Coming in at a length of one minute and twenty-six seconds, however, it is the shortest Elvis tune to crack the Hot 100 chart. King fans may shudder to hear him sing "Old MacDonald" in the film; Elvis wasn't too happy about it either. He walked out of the recording session, obviously disgusted at this new low, on the seventh take; the incomplete version had to be used as the film's master version.
The actual filming of Double Trouble was far more pleasurable than the recording sessions. Norman Taurog, who helmed nine other Elvis pics, signed on for directorial duties, which leant an air of stability to the production. An incredibly prolific director, Taurog reached the apex of his career with Boys Town (1938), starring Spencer Tracy. Previously he had garnered the Best Direction Oscar for Skippy (1931), which starred his nephew, Jackie Cooper.
Elvis' supporting cast featured the aforementioned Annette Day as his seventeen-year-old love interest. Discovered by a coproducer in a Portobello Market antique shop in London, Day was cast in what would be her only film. But what a way to go; Elvis even bought her a blue-and-white Mustang sports car during filming. Other cast members included John Williams, Leon Askin, and Chips Rafferty. Williams is best known for his performance as Inspector Hubbard in Dial M for Murder (1954), while Hogan's Heroes aficionados will recognize Askin as General Alfred Burkhalter from the television series. Rafferty was one of Australia's best-known actors and he also made several other U.S. film appearances (The Desert Rats, 1953); The Sundowners, 1960) prior to Double Trouble.
Things weren't what they seemed in Double Trouble; although the script featured European locales, the action was actually shot in the MGM backlots in Culver City, California. And while early publicity for the film boasted nine songs, the released version only had eight - the tune "It Won't Be Long" was cut, its demise likely attributed to the strained relations during the overdubbing sessions. But through it all, Elvis stuck to his film fundamentals: he romanced the pretty girls, shook his hips, sang his songs, and defeated the bad guys. Sure it was formulaic, but if anyone could pull it off, it was Elvis Presley. Why? Because he's the King, baby!
Producer: Judd Bernard, Irwin Winkler
Director: Norman Taurog
Screenplay: Mark Brandel, Jo Heims
Cinematography: Daniel L. Fapp
Editing: John McSweeney, Jr.
Art Direction: George W. Davis, Merrill Pye
Music: Jeff Alexander, Doc Pomus
Cast: Elvis Presley (Guy Lambert), Annette Day (Jill Conway), John Williams (Gerald Waverly), Yvonne Romain (Claire Dunham), Chips Rafferty (Archie Brown), Michael Murphy (Morley), Leon Askin (Inspector De Groote).
C-92m. Closed captioning. Letterboxed.
by Eleanor Quin