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Roustabout

Elvis Presley , Barbara Stanwyck , John Rich    Unrated   VHS Tape
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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The Elvis formula was well in place by the time of 1964's Roustabout: a passel of undistinguished songs (anyone remember "Poison Ivy League"?), pretty girls, tight pants, a colorful setting, and a little bit of karate to prove that Elvis really had been studying his martial arts. With that understood, Roustabout is a better-than-average workout for the King--not as peppy as Viva Las Vegas, but a good deal livelier than the sleepwalking It Happened at the World's Fair. Elvis plays a bad-boy singer roaming the highways on his Japanese motorcycle; laid up after an accident, he joins a carnival owned by the feisty Barbara Stanwyck. ("This is not a circus, it's a carnival. There's a big difference.") The cast goes from high to low: both giant-sized future James Bond villain Richard Kiel and tiny Billy Barty are carny regulars, and Raquel Welch has a small role in the opening scene. Teri Garr is one of the carnival dancers behind Elvis. The legendary costume designer Edith Head puts Elvis in a series of snappy windbreakers, but thank goodness he's also in black leather a lot. As if that weren't enough to recommend it, the movie has a sequence involving Elvis riding a cycle inside the "Wall of Death," a huge wooden cylinder with high walls. This bit actually inspired an entire Irish film in 1986, Eat the Peach, in which friends build a similar contraption after they watch Roustabout on tape. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars How come so expensive? Feb. 13 2011
Format:DVD
This is probably the only elvis movie i really wanna get, the songs are good, his acting is ummm well lets not go there. just wondered why this particular elvis movie is so expensive?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Wheels On Your Heels! Jan. 20 2004
Format:DVD
I won't bore you with a plot synopsis or my opinion of the borderline interesting story - this movie IS WORTH SEEING for one jaw-dropping sequence: For the rockingest song in the movie, "Wheels On My Heels", Elvis is driving his own motorcycle on a real location road and lip-syncing at the same time - without a helmet! This is not some lame rear projection process and most of the time the entire bike is shown, so it's not being towed - I just found it amazing, no kidding. I mean, what if he lost his concentration...boom! Brain damage.
Oh and Leif Erickson will make you really uncomfortable in this movie - what a loser slime.
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By Josh P.
Format:VHS Tape
"Roustabout" has Elvis playing a karate-chopping, drifting motorcyclist who is picked up after an accident involving him being knocked off his bike by local carnival foreman Leif Erikson, with his daughter Joan Freeman and owner Barbara Stanwyck. After his bike and guitar are damaged, he is hired by Stanwyck to work as a roustabout in her carnival. Elvis, of course, soon falls for Joan Freeman who is a little reluctant at first. Over time the carnival becomes the local night spot around as Elvis attracts people for singing along the midway. In come the teenagers and crowds in droves. Rival carnivla owner Pat Buttram asks if Elvis is interested in joining his big carnival. He refuses. After some confrontation involving a stolen wallet Erikson is convicted of and Joan Freeman's unhappiness with Elvis, he quits Stanwyck's outfit. Then it's off to the Carver show. Elvis is a hit. Back at the other carnival, business is failing and troubles with the bank build. Joan Freeman tries to bring him back, but to no avail at first. Later Elvis decides to go back, pay off the debt, win Joan Freeman, and make the carnival a swinging place again. Quintessential!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Roustabout Aug. 3 2002
Format:DVD
Elvis plays opposite Barbara Stanwyke (The Big Valley) this time out and is in awe of his co-star. It is reported he worked hard on this film to live up to Ms. Stanwyke's professional standards.
Unfortunately, the scriptwriters were less demanding of themselves, and the film suffers from banal dialogue and predictable plotting. Elvis stars as Charlie Rogers, a drifter with a chip on his shoulder who lands a job as a roustabout (handyman) with a down-and-out carnival operated by strong-willed Maggie Morgan, played by Stanwyke. When Charlie breaks into song on the midway one day, throngs of young people flock to hear him sing (which may be believable were they all penned by Lieber & Stoller). As news of his talent spreads, Maggie's carnival begins to turn a tidy profit. Charlie's good fortune continues as Cathy, a young and pretty carnival worker played by Joan Freeman, takes a romantic interest in him. However, after a misunderstanding involving a customer's missing wallet, Maggie and Cathy chide Charlie for his selfish attitudes. The embittered young Charlie quits Maggie's outfit to work for a rival carnival. When Maggie's carnival starts to go under, Charlie returns with enough money to ward off the creditors. His unselfish act wins Maggie's respect as well as Cathy's heart.
With a cast of big-name stars, including Barbara Stanwyke, Leif Erickson, and Jack Albertson, Roustabout was one of Elvis's better films from this period.
Elvis would later says that working with Stanwyke made him a better actor.
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Format:VHS Tape
Pleasant enough Elvis time-killer with a cotton candy soundtrack, pairing him with Hollywood veterans who should have known better. The story:
Elvis plays Charlie Rogers, a brooding loner (you can tell by his semi-comatose expression) eking out a living doing a bad impression of, well, himself at a dive called Mother's Tea House. (Look fast for Raquel Welch at one of the tables.) One night, he unwisely taunts some middle-aged college boys with a witty ditty called "Poison Ivy League," gets in a fight, loses his job and sputters off on his dinky motorbike. Happening upon a jeep, Charlie is run off the road by short-fused carny Joe Lean (Leif Erickson) for flirting with his virginal daughter Cathy (Joan Freeman, who, tellingly, later became a nun). Unhurt, Charlie signs on as a roustabout in their two-bit carnival, run by Barbara Stanwyck as Maggie Morgan, a woman of backbone and bite (sorry, wrong show), until his bike can be repaired. Maggie recognizes Charlie's teen appeal after his impromptu performance of "It's Carnival Time" causes a sensation on the midway. Soon Charlie is packin' 'em in, and the carnival begins to turn a profit. On top of the world, Charlie steps up his romancing of Cathy while fending off the advances of an amorous fortune teller (the usually fetching Sue Ane Langdon in a hideous black wig) until a fracas with a boorish customer causes him to get ants in his pants again. His cycle fixed, Charlie dons his outrageously tacky, must-be-compensating-for-something, foot-wide studded-leather belt and accepts the generous offer of the owner (Pat Buttram, the immortal flimflam man Mr. Haney from TV's "Green Acres") of a big-time rival carnival.
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