Veteran helmer Richard Thorpe directed two movies with Elvis. "Jailhouse Rock" came first in 1957, and the second one "Fun in Acapulco" followed in 1963. Comparably, "Jailhouse Rock" qualifies as the better of the two, with more grit and realism. "Jailhouse Rock" ranks one of Elvis' best musicals, and its black & white look contributes to its distinctive look. If you're counting, "Fun in Acapulco" was the King of Rock & Roll's thirteenth cinematic outing. Naturally, the action unfolds in scenic Acapulco. In real life, Elvis was nowhere near the popular Mexican resort spot when Thorpe was lensing the film with Oscar-winning cinematographer Daniel L. Fapp of "West Side Story" fame. According to Parménides García Saldaña, in his book entitled "Rey Criollo," the authorities had branded Elvis as an undesirable because two of his early movies had created such a stink in Mexico. Anyway, Elvis warbles such songs as "Fun In Acapulco," "Vino, Dinero Y Amor," "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here," "Mexico," "El Toro," "Marguerita," "The Bullfighter Was A Lady," "(There's) No Room To Rhumba In A Sports Car," "Bossa Nova Baby," "You Can't Say No In Acapulco," and "Guadalajara." Other than Top 10 Billboard hit "Bossa Nova Baby," most of these tunes are entirely forgettable like this largely disposable romantic musical comedy. "Fun in Acapulco" is of some interest because Elvis plays a character with a flawed background. Look closely and you'll spot "Andy Griffith" regular Howard McNear in one of the night club scenes. Young Larry Domasin makes a cute little boy who serves as Elvis' manager. I cannot help feeling that Raoul might have been an in-joke jab at Elvis' promoter Colonel Tom Parker. Paul Lukas has a neat little role as a cook. "Fun in Acapulco" features only one Elvis brawl and it occurs ten minutes from fade-out.
When we first see Elvis, he is Mike Windgren, the captain of a yacht. The daughter of the wealthy man who owns the yacht, Janie Harkins (Teri Hope of "Pajama Game") is a spoiled, bratty girl who drools over Elvis. Elvis wants nothing to do with this 'jail bait' siren, so she has him fired when her father catches her with alcohol in an Acapulco bar. Fortunately, Mike encounters a homeless Mexican shoeshine boy with street smarts, Raoul Almeido (Larry Domasin), who helps Elvis snag a job singing at the Acapulco Hilton run by one of his cousins, Mr. Ramírez (Alberto Morin of "Rio Grande"), who constantly has trouble with his current singer El Trovador who gives him nothing but grief. Mike agrees to fill in for El Trovador, if Ramírez will let him lifeguard at the pool "during the siesta for room and board, no pay." Ramírez does like to upset his employers and he fears that the current lifeguard, Moreno (Alejandro Rey of "Mr. Majestyk"), who is a cliff diver, will object to Mike's presence. Of course, matters are helped that Elvis has his eye on Moreno's stunning girlfriend, Marguerita Dauphin (Ursula Andress of "Dr. No"); later, Mike learns that the Hilton chef Maximillian Dauphin (Paul Lukas of "Watch on the Rhine") is Marguerita's father. An interesting scene occurs later when Elvis ascends to the top of the diving board at the Hilton and imagines himself as a high wire trapeze artist in the circus. He looks down at the pool but sees a circus arena. As it turns out, he was part of a high-wire family trapeze act called "The Flying Windgrens, and he misses the man that he is supposed to catch. Mike's brother plunged to his death. Mike lacks the nerve to dive off the board. This is probably the most interesting facet of this Elvis character. "Girls! Girls!Girls!" scenarist Allan Weiss hammers home this point when Mike refuses to be photographed after he wows the audiences who had listened to El Trovador.
Predictably, Mike and Moreno clash over Marguerita. Secretly, Marguerita wants to go to America, and she believes that if Mike marries her that her father and she can immigrate. Meanwhile, Mike is trying to date Dolores Gomez (Elsa Cárdenas of "Giant") when Moreno interferes again. Later, when Mike performs again with Dolores as his date, Marguerita and Moreno are in the audience. Clearly, Marguerita is upset that she didn't come with Mike so she forces Moreno to take her home. Later, on a cliff overlooking the city at night, Dolores and Mike are smooching in her convertible sports car when they almost roll off the cliff because Dolores raised the emergency brake that was between them. This was an amusing little scene. Dolores is a somewhat interesting character because she is a female Mexican bullfighter. Before long Raoul has Mike booked in almost every night club in Acapulco. Eventually, Moreno learns about Mike's tragic history, and he calls Mike a "chicken" to his face. Mike receives a wire from his mother and father who want him to return to America so they can renew their act. Of course, the ultimate act for our hero to prove his courage is to dive off the challenging 136-foot cliffs of La Quebrada. Mike scales the mountain from the other side because the crowd prevents him from entering the dive area. We learn that Mike is Catholic because he bows at a shrine and makes the cross of Saint Mary before he makes his leap of faith. Of course, he completes the dive with no difficulty.
Interestingly enough, we don't see Mike marry MMarguerita and take her father and her to America so he can resume his high wire trapeze act. Altogether, "Fun in Acapulco" makes for a harmless diversion.