EASY COME, EASY GO is another winning entry in Elvis' annals of entertainment.
Elvis was customarily charismatic and endearing, but I also credit his co-stars for making the movie a winner. Film veteran Frank McHugh enjoyed a large role as the charming Captain Jack, former kiddie show host now proprietor of a marine goods store who outfits the treasure hunters. I appreciated how Elvis movies frequently cast older stars, bridging the generation gap.
Pat Harrington as Judd Whitman was a more mature and savvy sidekick to Presley than the young and carefree Gary Lockwood and Jack Mullaney of earlier pictures. Harrington was integral to the story, not just tacked-on as a foil or for comic relief. His Easy Go-Go club was the hub of the film's on-shore action and site of two of the film's best songs: "The Love Machine" and "I'll Take Love." Harrington was a hard-working actor at this time, appearing in everything from THE MAN FROM UNCLE to F TROOP and voicing both the Inspector and Deux-Deux in a popular series of Depatie-Freling cartoons.
Harrington had also appeared on two episodes of THE MUNSTERS, working alongside our film's femme fatale Pat Priest, who proves herself to be a wow in a bikini as well as adept at playing a bad girl. Priest's Dina Bishop is a rich girl like Laurel Goodwin's character in GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS!, but unlike goodhearted Laurel Dodge, Dina Bishop is a wanton and a wastrel, frittering away her time and money in idle pursuits and attracting self-serving hangers on like Gil.
Skip Ward as Gil was convincing as Dina's kept man, pinched of face and simmering with anger and resentment for the Navy man who has caught his girl's wandering eye. Gil has a good scene with Captain Jack, playing on his vanity by telling him how much his children loved his old kiddie show. He's as much a manipulator as the devious Dina! I did a feel a moment's passing sympathy for Gil at the end when in the face of defeat Dina's so good a sport about it. She could afford to be. But for Gil that treasure could perhaps have bought his independence from Dina.
Dodie Marshall as Jo Symington fell shy of being the film's heroine. At one time she was rich, and still lives in a mansion, but like Dina is living a carefree and idle life, dancing barefooted in the Easy Go-Go and playing hostess to a menagerie of misfits, weirdos, and would-be artists. One dumps a cauldron of spaghetti onto a couple kissing atop a VW Beetle while another rolls bikini-clad girls covered in paint across a canvas. Elvis, already a man from a different era, raises a mocking eyebrow at this brave new world that has such people in it. Jo, the barefooted beatnik, claims to disdain money, until she learns of the sunken treasure, when she suddenly turns into Scrooge McDuck and persuades Ted, Judd, and Captain Jack to turn over their shares of the booty to help build her dreamed-of arts center.
I never warmed to Jo, but I liked the actress Dodie Marshall and was sorry to see she had such a short acting career, albeit one highlighted by two Elvis movies. Pat Priest provided the commanding presence and the feminine pulchritude, shining in living color like she never could on THE MUNSTERS. Director John Rich--post-GILLIGAN'S ISLAND and pre-ALL IN THE FAMILY--knew how to photograph Priest with a slightly upward angle that really showcased her awesome beauty.
Love it or loathe it, virtually everyone mentions "Yoga is as Yoga Does." Me, I loved it. I sure didn't expect Elsa Lanchester--the Bride of Frankenstein herself--to break into song and for Elvis to accompany her in a delightful duet. It was a funny song and scene and a testimony to Elvis' ability to laugh at himself and to be the butt of a joke. (Speaking of butts, I wish today's tight-cheeked yogis and yoginis traipsing across strip mall parking lots with their mats, cushions, and water bottles would watch this clip and "enlighten up").
A song rarely mentioned is "Sing, You Children," which Elvis croons to clear a path through the partygoers. Its a Spiritual-styled number referencing Jonah and appropriately Moses parting the Red Sea as he, Judd, and Jo--a latter-day Moses, Aaron, and Miriam--cleave a path through the press to the door. It's a catchy number and one that reflects Elvis' Christian faith and lifelong love for hymns and gospel songs.
EASY COME, EASY GO is easy on the eyes and goes down easy--a feel-good, happy-ending movie with welcome faces and great songs. Discover this lesser-known Presley treasure if you haven't already. A splendid time is guaranteed for all, to quote some other singers circa 1967.