Elvis Presley - Tickle Me

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Posted on Sun, 04/06/2014 - 10:44pm
by John MacMillan

Member since: Tue, 01/07/2014
 

Release Type

Extended Play (EP)

Release Year

1965

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Total votes: 18
 
 
 

Label

RCA Victor

 

Album Overview

Tickle Me is a 1965 American musical comedy film starring Elvis Presley as a champion rodeo bull-rider and bronco-buster.

Presley won a 1966 Golden Laurel Award as best male actor in a musical film for this role. It is the only Elvis film released by Allied Artists Pictures and saved the studio from financial collapse, Tickle Me helping to avert bankruptcy thanks to a song from its recycled soundtrack, "(Such an) Easy Question", which was a Top 40 hit in the United States, peaking at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reaching #1 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart in July, 1965. The film made $5 million at the box office.

The soundtrack had no "new" material, as album cuts were selected, then overdubbed. In two cases, different takes were used ("Long, Lonely Highway", and "I Feel That I've Known You Forever", the latter featuring what appears to be a vocal done on the soundstage).

Julie Adams and Jocelyn Lane co-star. The screenplay was written by Elwood Ullman and Edward Bernds, who had written The Three Stooges film shorts and theatrical films as well as scripts for The Bowery Boys.

The film was first released in the VHS format in the early 1980s in a limited version from Allied Artists Home Video. It was issued again by CBS/Fox video in 1985, 1987 and 1992, and by Warner Home Video in 1997. In 2007, Tickle Me was released for the first time on DVD, in the wide-screen letterbox format.

Tracks

TrackTitleDuration
1I Feel That I've Known You Forever
Notes

Written-By: Alan Jeffreys
Written-By: Doc Pomus

2Slowly But Surely
Notes

Written-By: Ben Weisman
Written-By: Sid Wayne

3Night Rider
Notes

Written-By: Pomus-Shuman

4Put The Blame On Me
Notes

Written-By: Fred Wise
Written-By: Kay Twomey
Written-By: Norman Blagman

5Dirty, Dirty Feeling
Notes

Written-By: Leiber & Stoller

Plot

Lonnie Beale (Elvis), an out-of-work rodeo star, is trying to make ends meet until the season starts up again. He comes to the town of Zuni Wells (a fictional town somewhere in the American West) because a friend says Lonnie can get a job on a ranch, but his friend is nowhere to be found.

Having no other option, Lonnie begins singing in a local club, but he gets fired after a fight with one of the customers. Vera Radford (Adams) sees his performance and offers a job at a ranch she runs called the Circle-Z to take care of the horses. The Circle-Z is not what Lonnie expected, though; it is a guest ranch where actresses and models go to lose weight and to get in shape, a fitness salon, referred to as "Yogurt Gulch."

After upsetting the staff a few times by disrupting activities with his singing, Lonnie follows Pam Meritt (Lane) to the nearby ghost town of Silverado, where he learns that one of her relatives has hidden a treasure. They share a comical vision of what the town must have been like when it was still populated.

Back at the ranch, people keep trying to abduct Pam to find the location of the treasure. They want a letter in Pam's possession. Lonnie finds himself defending her more than once. Lonnie and Pam begin a relationship, but matters are complicated when Vera throws herself at him and Pam walks in on them.

There is a brief interlude where Western films are spoofed and parodied in a comedy sequence where Lonnie becomes the Panhandle Kid, a milk-drinking cowboy, with Pam Meritt and Stanley Potter (Mullaney) in costume as characters in the saloon.

When rodeo season starts, Lonnie goes on the circuit. But because things were left unresolved with Pam, he is unable to do his job well. Every time he tries to call, she hangs up on him, and when he writes to her, she sends it back, marked "Return to Sender" (an homage to a song that was a big hit for Elvis in 1962). Eventually, one of the ranch hands, Stanley, finds Lonnie on the circuit and talks him into confronting Pam.

When the two reach the Circle-Z, Pam is on her way to Silverado, so they follow her. A fierce storm begins, so the trio spends the night in a hotel that is not as deserted as they think. It seems to be haunted, as strange things keep happening to Pam and Stanley whenever Lonnie is not around. Eventually we learn that the ghosts and goblins in the hotel are actually masked men trying to get to Pam's treasure.

Finally, the men are unmasked, and the hiding place of the treasure is discovered. Lonnie and Pam get married, with a big reception at the Circle-Z. Stanley gets tangled up in the decorations behind their car. Lonnie sings to Pam as they drive off toward their honeymoon, dragging Stanley in a metal tub behind them.

Cast

  • Elvis Presley as Lonnie Beale/Panhandle Kid
  • Julie Adams as Vera Radford
  • Jocelyn Lane as Pamela Meritt
  • Jack Mullaney as Stanley Potter
  • Merry Anders as Estelle Penfield
  • Connie Gilchrist as Hilda
  • Barbara Werle as Barbara
  • Edward Faulkner as Brad Bentley
  • Allison Hayes as Mabel
  • Bill Williams as Deputy Sturdivant
  • Red West (uncredited) as Mabel's boyfriend
  • Diane Bond

Production

Elvis Presley was in trouble with the IRS and needed an acting fee to cover his debts. Colonel Tom Parker, his manager, arranged a quick one-off deal with Allied Artists to make a movie.

The movie was originally called Isle of Paradise. It was written by Edward Bernds and Elwood Ullman, who had written for The Three Stooges and the Bowery Boys.

Elvis was paid $600,000 plus $150,000 in expenses and 50% of the profits. The below-the-line costs were estimated at $399,750; it went $6,650 over budget and finished at $406,400. This made it the cheapest Elvis movie to date. Costs were minimised by the fact that the soundtrack consisted of unreleased songs, so no new music needed to be recorded.

Although produced by Allied Artists, the movie was actually made at Paramount Pictures Studios, which Allied hired for the duration of the shoot. It was shot over 23 days, plus two days of second unit photography.

Reception

The film was popular at the box office, making over $3 million in the US and $5 million worldwide. It became the third highest grossing film in the history of Allied Artists and saved the studio from bankruptcy.

Soundtrack

For the first time in his career, the budget did not allow new songs to be commissioned for a Presley film. The soundtrack was assembled from previously released recordings, recycling nine songs in total with some dating back to recording sessions from 1960.

Four of the songs were released on singles, with the other five on an extended play single as the official soundtrack. "(Such an) Easy Question," by Otis Blackwell and Winfield Scott, was paired with "It Feels So Right" by Fred Wise and Ben Weisman. Released previously on Pot Luck with Elvis and Elvis Is Back! respectively, they were reissued as catalogue 47-8585 in June 1965, with the A-side "Easy Question" going to #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the B-side peaking at #55 independently. A second pairing, "I'm Yours" by Don Robertson and Hal Blair also from Pot Luck with "(It's A) Long Lonely Highway" by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman from Kissin' Cousins, were reissued as the A and b sides respectively of catalogue item 47-8657 in August 1965, "I'm Yours" also peaking on the chart at #11.

The soundtrack EP was issued in June 1965 containing the other five songs. It only reached #70 on the singles chart, another indication of format's lack of appeal by the mid-1960s, although the fact its contents featured songs that were already available on various still-in-catalog albums may have also played a role. RCA would only issue one more extended play single for Presley in 1967. And with Beatlemania and the British Invasion in full swing, the music was stagnant.

In the 1960s, to obtain all nine songs in long-playing format, one would have to acquire Elvis Is Back!Something for EverybodyPot Luck, and the Fun in Acapulco and Kissin' Cousins soundtracks (which featured some of the songs as non-movie "bonus tracks"). In 2005, Sony Music issued a compact disc soundtrack of Tickle Me on their specialty Presley-oriented collectors label, Follow That Dream. It featured the film's nine songs along with five bonus tracks.

Personnel

  • Elvis Presley – vocals, guitar

Additional Musicians

  • The Jordanaires, Millie Kirkham - backing vocals
  • Boots Randolph - saxophone
  • Scotty Moore, Hank Garland, Harold Bradley, Grady Martin, Jerry Kennedy – electric guitar
  • Floyd Cramer - piano
  • Bob Moore - bass
  • D. J. Fontana, Buddy Harman - drums
 

Attribution