16 August 2007 | JoeKarlosi
Roustabout (1964) ***
Most people don't think too much of this Elvis romp compared to any other, but for me it stands out as one of the better "formula" movies the man made in the '60s. As club singer Charlie Rogers, Elvis is a little different from his usual stock characters from this period because the young man has a chip on his shoulder. He's a reckless person who never had a family and is prone to being self-centered and dismissive. After getting fired from a gig one day, he and his motorcycle are smacked up by a threesome of small-time carnival owners driving in their car, so they invite him to stick around their modest fairgrounds and work as a "roustabout" for a little cash while waiting for his bike to get back from the repair shop. Rogers is able to boost business with his singing to lure customers to the Fair.
Barbara Stanwyck plays the strong-willed carnival chief who breathes the carny lifestyle, but she's saddled with a crotchety and hard-headed partner (Leif Erickson) who once caused a tragedy to a customer by not safely securing one of the rides at the fair, and who tries to keep Charlie away from his daughter Cathy (Joan Freeman). It's refreshing to see a leading girl who can hold her own and not easily succumb to Elvis' whims. There are a few decent songs here and there, if no great ones. Raquel Welch can be spotted in the beginning of the film as one of a group of young folks going to see Charlie Rogers perform at the club. *** out of ****