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.