Movie Review: Easy Come, Easy Go (1967)
Elvis isn't dead! Immortalised on this poster as three different personas, as a US Navy officer, singer and diver looking for adventure, I ran into him more than once on nights out in the bars of Hong Kong’s Lan Kwai Fong area. Glittering with sequins and sporting the same slicked-back quiff (a hairstyle that earned a dinosaur with a black crest on its head the nickname “Elvisaurus”!), Elvis was fond of the bars in this part of town and regularly sung there. Except that as soon as he belted out the first notes, the ersatz superstar gave himself away with his Cantonese accent. I was born too late to belong to the earlier generation of frenzied Elvis fans, so each time he appeared I pretended to believe and always made a generous contribution to his hat.
I discovered the real Elvis by listening to his unforgettable voice on my mother's old record player and I understand her nostalgia. As for my father, he grew sideburns during the Elvis era. Did they meet while dancing to Love me tender, electrified by one of the singer’s famous hip gyrations, so suggestive that Elvis was given the delightful new name of “Pelvis”? We would rather remember him as “the King”, in tribute to his 25-year musical career. In addition to his lookalikes, plenty of people have paid homage to the singer, including Elvis Costello, who borrowing his name, and Chris Isaac, who outright copied him.
The poster for Easy Come, Easy Go gives us the chance to talk about his film career. In 1967, when the film was released, Elvis had already made 22 of them at a rate of two or three a year, a rhythm imposed by his manager, the mysterious Colonel Tom Parker (who was as much a colonel as Elvis was a president). This could explain the movies’ quality, far from memorable and doing nothing to showcase his skills as a Hollywood actor. In particular, we will try to forget the yoga scene where poor Presley contorts himself ridiculously in front of the camera as well as certain songs where he looks frankly bored. He usually played more exciting roles, from boxer to repentant prisoner to pilot!
On the poster, we literally see him escaping from his usual setting as an iconic singer. He imposes his presence in a new space wearing a frogman’s diving suit and clutching a knife that promises us, as it says, "skin-diving for adventure, treasure and fun". While on his last mission for the Navy, a final mine clearance off the coast of California, he stumbles upon a buried treasure, a chest containing gold coins from an old Spanish ship – Easy Come, an unexpected windfall of easy money! He turns for help to the owner's granddaughter, the bubbly brunette seen here singing and dancing beside him (in the centre of the poster), who is none other than the actress Dodie Marshall, who came to fame when she accompanied him on the drums in the final scene of Spinout. So, who is the other girl referred to in the film’s French title Trois gars, deux filles et un trésor [Three Guys, Two Girls and a Treasure]? Another pin-up, posing in a pink bikini on Elvis’ right, bringing the same happy smile to his face as the brunette. This manipulative blonde (Pat Priest) also wants to get her hands on the loot. Elvis is not fooled and surrounds himself with two other “guys”, his trumpeter friend and a so-called captain, hiring underwater equipment from him so he can get the chest. Once they bring it to the surface, it turns out that the coins it contains are not made of gold, but of ordinary copper! Easy Go, or as the saying goes, “Ill-gotten gains never prosper”. But here, no one seems particularly upset; on the contrary, the meagre treasure is handed over to the pretty brunette who plans to use it to open her zen art centre for hippies in search of creative fulfilment.
Despite this somewhat simplistic plot, the whole film is blissfully good-humoured and infectiously cheerful. Nobody is really bad, not even the shark on the poster. The poster’s colour sets the tone: the predominantly white background points to comedy. Some situations make you laugh (or smile), such as the parody of an artist's performance when a couple are hit on the head with a dish dripping with spaghetti while making love. We also applaud the trick Elvis plays on the blonde's skipper, bringing him to the surface inflated with compressed air, his suit ready to explode! The school-kid humour keeps up a steady rhythm with joke after joke, helped by a gallery of colourful characters, like the sham sea dog who is scared of water (played by Frank Mc Hugh), offering underwater equipment for hire and secretly rehearsing shows for children.
We almost fall off our seats when Elvis swaps his diving suit for his black stage suit. The poster lives up to its promise, with "singin’" and "swingin’" galore throughout the film. The adventures are punctuated by eight songs in all, performed by the “King” and following the formula applied to his other films: "three ballads, a medium-tempo piece and a fast piece, ending with a boogie-blues," explained his composer, Jerry Leiber.
The last bar of the song in the final scene ends with a kiss – the only one! – between Elvis and his singing partner. We would have liked to see more in this romantic comedy full of young models in bikinis. Nevertheless, I spent an hour and thirty-five minutes in pure relaxation, reliving musical performances by Elvis I had never seen. Do you know what you have to do with the poster now? Get hold of the film's soundtrack on vinyl!