DOUBLE TROUBLE: DVD
Pop singer Guy Lambert (Elvis Presley) earns a living performing gigs at discotheques in London and Europe. Jill Conway (Annette Day), a teenage heiress with a huge crush on the singer, follows him to Antwerp, much to the chagrin of her guardian uncle (John Williams) who has something more sinister than her physical welfare on his mind. Guy, who is unwittingly carrying a fortune in stolen diamonds stashed by a couple of incompetent crooks in his luggage, has double trouble dealing with Jill, who is more inclined to tease than to please and with Claire (Yvonne Romaine), a jewel encrusted glamour-puss who keeps her eye on the baubles.
Review by Keith Lofthouse:
Between 1956 and 1969 Elvis Presley made 31 films that were of B and C grade quality to all but his fans. All made money but none were ever nominated for any kind of award - Oscar even shunned the 250 or so songs that the world's biggest selling solo artist recorded for those films.
On screen, Elvis's most popular outing was in Blue Hawaii (1961), which produced a top selling single (Can't Help Falling In Love) and album...but at the other end of the scale was Double Trouble, which earned just $1.2 million at the U.S. box office and spawned a forgotten single (Long Legged Girl) which limped no higher than 63 on the charts and an album that was spun only marginally more times than Elvis's least successful movie soundtrack, Speedway. The poster campaign promised little more than the pulp pap of the pop star's previous 23 pictures: "Elvis takes mad mod Europe by song as he swings into a brand new adventure filled with dames, diamonds, discotheques and danger!"
What the blurb disguises is the fact that Double Trouble is a funny and often surprising spy spoof with a busy plot involving Clouseau-like detectives and clumsy-clot crooks in various intrigues such as diamond smuggling, embezzlement and murder. It was often said that Elvis "couldn't act," but after his "beautiful and sensitive performance" as the half-breed Indian in Flaming Star (1960), director Don Siegel (of Dirty Harry fame) said: "He has some of the same qualities as Rudolph Valentino and the same magnetism." Indeed, if it wasn't for the power of veto held by Elvis's Svengali-like manager (Colonel Tom Parker), The King might have carved out a substantial acting career in such notable films as The Defiant Ones (1958), West Side Story (1961) and Midnight Cowboy (1969). Instead, he was stuck playing various mutations of the same singing, swinging bachelor in almost all of his films and lumbered with a litany of loathsome songs.
Inevitably, he would tire of the gruelling schedule that churned out up to four of these quickies each year and his performances suffered. But in Double Trouble he is subtle in his comic timing and convincing in his reactions to the skilled cast of character actors that support him. Aussie legend Chips Rafferty, looking very Tatiesque in trench-coat and pork-pie hat, has one of his most substantial Hollywood roles as a bumbling thief; Leon Askin, who made a career of playing sinister Russians is this time a comical Belgian police Inspector; suave British stage actor John Williams is a conniving uncle and, as usual, Michael Murphy (on debut), cannot be trusted. Only the Wiere Brothers, as a trio of incompetent gumshoes are idiotic to the point of annoyance. The best listening is provided not by the release single, but by a rousing rendition of Old MacDonald's Farm from the back of a truck loaded with caged birds; by a gentle ballad (Could I Fall In Love) and City By Night, a moody little number quite different to any song Elvis recorded, with bluesy trumpets and a big sound backed by The Jordanaires.
The film is entertaining enough not to notice that the sets might blow over in the next breeze and flashes of style suggest that David Niven, Peter Sellers or Audrey Hepburn might appear in the next doorway...had the budget stretched that far. Coquettish Annette Day, who was just 17 years of age when plucked from a Portobello Road antique store to become the only English actress ever to co-star with Elvis, never made another movie. She now works for a firm of safe makers and has long since sold the white Mustang convertible that Elvis presented to her as a memento.
Published May 5, 2005
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DOUBLE TROUBLE: DVD (G)
CAST: Elvis Presley, Annette Day, Chips Rafferty
DIRECTOR: Norman Taurog
SCRIPT: Jo Heims
RUNNING TIME: 81 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16: 9 widescreen
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video
DVD RELEASE: April 13, 2005