Film Review: Girls! Girls! Girls!
In 1962, Norman Taurog released Girls! Girls! Girls!, which stared Elvis Presley, Stella Stevens, Laurel Goodwin, Jeremy Slate, Benson Fong, Robert Strauss, Ann McCrea, Jack Nitzsche, Nestor Paiva, Linda Rand, Edward Sheenan, and Red West. Grossing $2.6 million at the box office, the film was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical and Presley received a second place Laurel Award for Best Male Performance in a Musical.
Hawaiian fishing guide Ross Carpenter enjoys bating and sailing out on the sea. However, his boss is soon retiring to Arizona and he tries to find a way to buy the boat he built with his father, called the Westwind. Soon though, Carpenter is caught in a love triangle with a childish club singer named Robin and a sweet woman named Laurel and he must eventually make the choice between the two.
Though not the best film Presley has found himself in, Girls! Girls! Girls! is definitely far from the worst. The plot is fairly decent, with Presley having a tangible goal that isn’t immediately revolving around the films love interests, which is how most of his better films have been. Here, he wants to own the boat he built with his father, making it so this film has more sentimentality than many of his others. Interestingly, the goal of having that boat does get entangled with the love interests as Laurel ends up buying it and then Wesley Johnson soon owns it. Ultimately though, the kerfuffle Carpenter and Johnson have where the former ends up flat out losing the boat to the latter helps Carpenter grow as a character as he sees that it’s just a boat and him not being attached to it means he can build a new boat as well as be with the woman he chooses.
That really makes it so the film’s love triangle is really nothing special. As per usual with Presley’s films, he has to make a choice between an insensitive and selfish girl that can’t see anyone or anything beyond her own nose and a sweet, caring woman that actually sees Carpenter as someone meaningful. The audience has seen it before and it’s practically a given as to which girl he’s going to end up with. However, what’s not old hat with this film’s love triangle is that Laurel hides something from Carpenter, which turns out to be that she’s got a lot of money. The thing is though, Carpenter isn’t going after Laurel because of her money and it takes fighting for her when she’s advanced upon by Johnson to realize that it’s her he actually loves. It’s just a plus that her wealth is going to enable him to build a new boat after Johnson takes the other one.
The acting is pretty decent from all parties involved as well. Presley, in showing how much he’s improved since his first film, presents a good performance. When Carpenter is talking about buying the boat he and his father built, he’s able to come across as someone wistfully yearning for something that’s practically out of reach. At the same time, he conveys his inability to decide between the selfish girl and the right girl quite well along with how he feels when Johnson is advancing on Laurel. The punch Carpenter lands on Johnson is just a good topper. Honestly, it feels like the only performances prior to this film that are better are those in King Creole and Wild in the Country. Presley isn’t the only one giving a good performance though. Slate as Johnson comes off as a great despicable letch, Stevens as Robin makes for a good spoiled and childish idiot and Goodwin as Laurel does well as a rich girl who does what she does out of kindness.
Now, as with all of Presley’s films, this one is a musical and the songs that are presented in this film are pretty good, especially “Return to Sender.” Presley does a fine job of making it seem like he’s singing on camera and it doesn’t feel like he’s merely phoning anything in. The initial song that kicks off the film, “Girls! Girls! Girls!” is good as well and really captures that 60s vibe of really having fun with the soundtrack and making the film in general.
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