Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
Plot Never Thickens in "Clambake"
Cleveland Press November 30, 1979
"Clambake" is another Elvis Presley movie, not much different from the rest, good as Presley movies go. This one uses the poor little rich boy plot, the one about the young man with all the money who would like to be loved for himself and not his wealth.
Like all Presley movies the slim plot is spaced out with a number of songs, eight this time, which is what a Presley movie is for anyway.
Elvis may be slowing down in his dotage, for he does far less hip-swiveling than he used to, tends more to ballad singing with a minimum of body English. His appearance remains bland and imperturbable and what once may have been baby fat is now merely heaviness.
"CLAMBAKE" IN STORY, dialog and songs is derivative; a stringing together of cliches that must have been cut out and pasted together from a number of other scripts.
Presley changes places with a Miami water ski instructor (Will Hutchins) so that he can avoid the gold diggers, finds a girl he likes (Shelley Fabares) only to discover that she's looking for a rich man.
His rival is a wealthy playboy who races boats. ln other films Elvis has been a racing driver and a rodeo rider, so the contest at the end in which he proves himself is no surprise.
BEFORE HE WINS the race he must rebuild in a few days a boat with a flaw in its design, thus serving as marine engineer, mechanic, carpenter and chemist. In the latter capacity he invents a super tough finish for the hull.
The work is completed in record time when a group of pretty girls pop in to help him, singing all the while: "Tote that paint brush, lift that pail." Honest!
James Gregory is simply awful with his corn pone and hominy grits accent as Presley's oil well-owning daddy.
Gary Merrill appears in the small role of a boat company owner who befriends Elvis, proves the actor he is as he looks at Presley with admiration and utters without embarrassment such lines as: "I never had a son of my own, but if I did, etc., etc."
"CLAMBAKE" IS LAVISH with beach party numbers water skiing sequences and boat racing scenes. Some of the music sounded old but it may be that a few notes were borrowed here and there. One number, "Confidence," sounds like a combination of "High Hopes" and "Fortuosity."
Familiarity must breed success. All the Presley movies make money.