The Trouble with Girls


1h 37m 1969
The Trouble with Girls

Brief Synopsis

A traveling show's star gets involved in a small-town murder case.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Musical
Western
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
New York opening: 10 Dec: May 1969
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Chautauqua by Day Keene, Dwight Babcock (New York, 1960).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

In 1927, a chautauqua company comes into Radford Center, Iowa, and its new manager, Walter Hale, is attracted to Charlene, the Story Lady, despite their frequent quarrels over Charlene's attempts to form a union of the performers. Charlene, given the job of choosing a local child for the lead in the pageant, selects Carol Bix, whose mother, Nita, is an employee of the evil druggist Wilby. Local dignitaries are upset over the decision to use the Bix girl because they expected to see one of their own children selected. Wilby's body is found floating in the lake, and gambler Clarence is arrested. Walter realizes that Nita killed Wilby (he had forced her into having an affair with him), and he persuades her to confess publicly as part of the chautauqua performance. As a result of Nita's plea of self-defense against the lecherous Wilby, Clarence is cleared of the charge, and Nita is exonerated and gains enough money to realize her dream of moving to a new town with Carol and starting anew. Although Charlene is outraged at Walter's exploiting a killing for the company's financial advantage and threatens to quit, Walter manages to convince her of his integrity and persuades her to return to the company. Songs include : "Clean Up Your Own Back Yard," "America, the Beautiful," "A Thweet Yellow Tulip," "Toot-Toot-Tootsie," "Mademoiselle From Armantiers," "Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep."

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Musical
Western
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
New York opening: 10 Dec: May 1969
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Chautauqua by Day Keene, Dwight Babcock (New York, 1960).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

The Trouble With Girls


The trailers for the 1969 Elvis Presley vehicle The Trouble with Girls hailed it as "a new kind of story" for The King, and it certainly was, mixing music, comedy, Americana and a murder mystery that cast Presley for the first time ever as detective. The change of pace was too little, too late, however. Though Presley's three 1969 releases all offered something different, they weren't enough to revive his by-then flagging film career. Nonetheless, The Trouble with Girls features some charming period comedy and strong supporting performances from reliable character actors such as John Carradine, Vincent Price, Sheree North and Joyce Van Patten.

The film is set in a small Iowa town in 1927 that is the lucky recipient of a tent show on the Chautauqua circuit. These were traveling shows growing out of Christian summer camps that had started in 1874 along the shores of Lake Chautauqua in New York. Over time, several communities attracted their own Chautauquas, while smaller towns would host a tent show for a week or so. The programs were a combination of educational lectures, musical performances and sometimes religious revivals and political speeches. The circuit reached its height in the 1920s, providing education and entertainment for otherwise isolated rural communities, but eventually died out as radio, film and, finally, television united small-town America in their own ways.

Elvis plays the recently hired manager of a Chautauqua setting up its tents in Radford Center, Iowa. While sparring romantically with one performer (Marlyn Mason), who's trying to unionize the show, he also tries to help a local widow (Sheree North) whose daughter (Anissa Jones) shows surprising talent. When North's boss (Dabney Coleman) turns up murdered, Presley helps solve the crime, using one of the shows to inspire the killer to confess.

The Trouble with Girls started as a Glenn Ford vehicle at MGM in 1959 with Presley slated for a supporting role. When the production was shelved two of the writers, Day Keene and Dwight Babcock, turned it into the 1960 novel Chautauqua. In 1964, the studio announced a film of that title to star Dick Van Dyke, though it was based on a different book, Gay MacLaren's Merrily We Roll Along. For a time the title passed to Columbia, but it finally came back to MGM, which filmed it with Presley at the end of 1968, this time using the material from the Keene-Babcock novel. The original title was Chautauqua, but during production the producers began to worry that audiences wouldn't know what that meant, so they changed it to the more general and, they hoped, marketable The Trouble with Girls.

From the evidence on and off screen, Presley already seemed to have written off his film career by the time he made The Trouble with Girls. He never met any of the musicians who worked on the five songs he recorded for the film, overdubbing his vocal tracks on his own. In some scenes, he seems to be sleepwalking, letting other performers carry the histrionic load for the film. Only one of his songs was released as a single, "Clean Up Your Own Back Yard," by Mac Davis and Billy Strange. That number peaked at 35 on the Billboard charts. No longer a guaranteed box office draw for MGM, Elvis's second to last film was released as the bottom half of a double bill with the Raquel Welch drama Flareup.

But The Trouble with Girls also has its supporters. Some fans have stated that his work suggests he should have moved into different types of films. Writing in the New York Times, Roger Greenspun was surprisingly positive, calling the film "charming though ineptly titled" and suggesting that it "succeeds so amiably in its parts that the relative weakness of the whole doesn't matter too desperately." Nonetheless, The Trouble with Girls did little to bolster Presley's career as a film star. After one more film at MGM, the medical drama Change of Habit (1969), he ended his acting career. The King turned down later offers like the chance to team with Barbra Streisand for the 1976 remake of A Star Is Born even after live concert tours and the documentary Elvis: That's the Way It Is (1970) had revived his career.

Producer: Lester Welch
Director: Peter Tewksbury
Screenplay: Arnold Peyser, Lois Peyser
Based on the novel Chautauqua by Day Keene and Dwight Babcock Cinematography: Jacques R. Marquette
Score: Billy Strange
Cast: Elvis Presley (Walter Hale), Marlyn Mason (Charlene), Nicole Jaffe (Betty), Sheree North (Nita Bix), Edward Andrews (Johnny), John Carradine (Mr. Drewcolt), Anissa Jones (Carol), Vincent Price (Mr. Morality), Joyce Van Patten (Maude), Dabney Coleman (Harrison Wilby).
C-100. Closed Captioning. Letterboxed.

by Frank Miller
The Trouble With Girls

The Trouble With Girls

The trailers for the 1969 Elvis Presley vehicle The Trouble with Girls hailed it as "a new kind of story" for The King, and it certainly was, mixing music, comedy, Americana and a murder mystery that cast Presley for the first time ever as detective. The change of pace was too little, too late, however. Though Presley's three 1969 releases all offered something different, they weren't enough to revive his by-then flagging film career. Nonetheless, The Trouble with Girls features some charming period comedy and strong supporting performances from reliable character actors such as John Carradine, Vincent Price, Sheree North and Joyce Van Patten. The film is set in a small Iowa town in 1927 that is the lucky recipient of a tent show on the Chautauqua circuit. These were traveling shows growing out of Christian summer camps that had started in 1874 along the shores of Lake Chautauqua in New York. Over time, several communities attracted their own Chautauquas, while smaller towns would host a tent show for a week or so. The programs were a combination of educational lectures, musical performances and sometimes religious revivals and political speeches. The circuit reached its height in the 1920s, providing education and entertainment for otherwise isolated rural communities, but eventually died out as radio, film and, finally, television united small-town America in their own ways. Elvis plays the recently hired manager of a Chautauqua setting up its tents in Radford Center, Iowa. While sparring romantically with one performer (Marlyn Mason), who's trying to unionize the show, he also tries to help a local widow (Sheree North) whose daughter (Anissa Jones) shows surprising talent. When North's boss (Dabney Coleman) turns up murdered, Presley helps solve the crime, using one of the shows to inspire the killer to confess. The Trouble with Girls started as a Glenn Ford vehicle at MGM in 1959 with Presley slated for a supporting role. When the production was shelved two of the writers, Day Keene and Dwight Babcock, turned it into the 1960 novel Chautauqua. In 1964, the studio announced a film of that title to star Dick Van Dyke, though it was based on a different book, Gay MacLaren's Merrily We Roll Along. For a time the title passed to Columbia, but it finally came back to MGM, which filmed it with Presley at the end of 1968, this time using the material from the Keene-Babcock novel. The original title was Chautauqua, but during production the producers began to worry that audiences wouldn't know what that meant, so they changed it to the more general and, they hoped, marketable The Trouble with Girls. From the evidence on and off screen, Presley already seemed to have written off his film career by the time he made The Trouble with Girls. He never met any of the musicians who worked on the five songs he recorded for the film, overdubbing his vocal tracks on his own. In some scenes, he seems to be sleepwalking, letting other performers carry the histrionic load for the film. Only one of his songs was released as a single, "Clean Up Your Own Back Yard," by Mac Davis and Billy Strange. That number peaked at 35 on the Billboard charts. No longer a guaranteed box office draw for MGM, Elvis's second to last film was released as the bottom half of a double bill with the Raquel Welch drama Flareup. But The Trouble with Girls also has its supporters. Some fans have stated that his work suggests he should have moved into different types of films. Writing in the New York Times, Roger Greenspun was surprisingly positive, calling the film "charming though ineptly titled" and suggesting that it "succeeds so amiably in its parts that the relative weakness of the whole doesn't matter too desperately." Nonetheless, The Trouble with Girls did little to bolster Presley's career as a film star. After one more film at MGM, the medical drama Change of Habit (1969), he ended his acting career. The King turned down later offers like the chance to team with Barbra Streisand for the 1976 remake of A Star Is Born even after live concert tours and the documentary Elvis: That's the Way It Is (1970) had revived his career. Producer: Lester Welch Director: Peter Tewksbury Screenplay: Arnold Peyser, Lois Peyser Based on the novel Chautauqua by Day Keene and Dwight Babcock Cinematography: Jacques R. Marquette Score: Billy Strange Cast: Elvis Presley (Walter Hale), Marlyn Mason (Charlene), Nicole Jaffe (Betty), Sheree North (Nita Bix), Edward Andrews (Johnny), John Carradine (Mr. Drewcolt), Anissa Jones (Carol), Vincent Price (Mr. Morality), Joyce Van Patten (Maude), Dabney Coleman (Harrison Wilby). C-100. Closed Captioning. Letterboxed. by Frank Miller

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The Trouble with Girls marked the feature film debut of actor-composer John Rubenstein, the son of famed pianist Arthur Rubenstein.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States on Video December 6, 1988

Released in United States on Video October 6, 1988

Released in United States Spring May 1969

A traveling medicine-show man arrives in an Iowa town and begins to turn things upside down.

Released in United States Spring May 1969

Released in United States on Video October 6, 1988

Released in United States on Video December 6, 1988