Movies and Film

Always Bet on Elvis – Frankie and Johnny (1966)

Johnny is a gambler and not a very good one. He is also a superstitious person which, when combined with the gambling, tends to make it even worse. Money is owed to everyone he knows including his girlfriend Frankie and best friend Cully and so, when Johnny hears about a gypsy fortune teller that might give him the edge he needs at the tables, that is exactly where he makes a beeline towards. While the gypsy woman is a fraud, Johnny takes her advice to heart and does as she says and thus when he comes upon Nellie while losing the last few dollars to his name, he strikes it big and she becomes his meal-ticket, that is if he can hold onto her.

Much like most of the Elvis Presley fare which would hit theatres in the mid to late 1960s, this film was of little consequence, barely making a mark when it was in theatres but becoming a cable tv fixture and perennial feel-good movie whenever and wherever it was shown. A lot of Presley movies were like that, with few musical numbers of note if any, a couple of laughs to be had, a bit of drama to tug at the heart and a happy ending where he always, always gets the girl. There is nothing really wrong with that, though whatever potential his early directors saw in him, Elvis would not be given the material to show it. His movies were matinee fluff, something that would put a smile on the face and nothing more than that but in the end, what more could one ask for?

Starring in this film opposite him would be Donna Douglas, made famous on The Beverly Hillbillies and Harry Morgan who had a starring role on M*A*S*H among many other things. They would prop the rest of the film up with their performances, not including those by Sue Ane Langdon and Nancy Kovack who were also quite good, thus making Frankie and Johnny a picture a true delight. As mentioned, the soundtracks for these movies rarely a plethora of hits and this one would be no different though Please Don’t Stop Loving Me would stand out above all, a beautiful ballad to woo anyone who listened, as well as the title track which would make minimal waves.

True Elvis Presley fans would most likely love everything about this even if it was forgettable and it was just that, though watching it more than once would not be considered a crime due to just how pleasant it turned out to be.

2.5 out of 5

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