The Trouble with Girls (film)
|The Trouble with Girls|
|Directed by||Peter Tewksbury
|Produced by||Lester Welch|
|Written by||Mauri Grashin|
|Based on||The Trouble with Girls
by Dwight V. Babcock
|Music by||Billy Strange|
|Cinematography||Jacques R. Marquette|
|Editing by||Al Clark|
|Running time||99 minutes|
The Trouble with Girls (full title: The Trouble with Girls (and How to Get Into It)) is a 1969 film starring Elvis Presley. It was one of his final acting roles, along with the same year's Change of Habit.
The only Elvis movie to have a subtitle in its name, it is an odd mixture of music, comedy, and melodrama. The Trouble with Girls is also unique because Elvis is on screen for less than half the film.
It is based on the 1960 novel Chautauqua by Day Keene (1904–1969) and Dwight Vincent Babcock (1909–1979), which was published by Putnam.
In a small Iowa town in 1927, a traveling Chautauqua company arrives, with internal squabbles dividing the troupe. The new manager, Walter Hale (Elvis Presley), is trying to prevent Charlene, the troupe’s “Story Lady” (Marlyn Mason), from recruiting the performers to form a union.
Meanwhile, the town has a scandal following the murder of the local pharmacist Wilby (Dabney Coleman). Although a shady gambler is arrested, Walter realizes that the real killer is Nita (Sheree North), one of Wilby’s employees.
Walter successfully gets Nita to confess during a Chautauqua performance, where she makes public the sexual harassment that Wilby directed at her. Nita’s self-defense plea frees the wrongly jailed man, but Charlene is outraged that Walter used the crime to financially enrich the Chautauqua, and attempts to quit.
Walter attempts to reason with Charlene, but when she refuses to give in, he deceives her and uses the local police force to be sure that she must leave on the train with the rest of the troupe.
- Elvis Presley: Walter Hale
- Marlyn Mason: Charlene
- Nicole Jaffe: Betty Smith
- Sheree North: Nita Bix
- Edward Andrews: Johnny
- John Carradine: Mr. Drewcolt
- Vincent Price: Mr. Morality
- Dabney Coleman: Harrison Wilby
- Duke Snider: The Cranker
- Anissa Jones: Carol Bix
- John Rubinstein: Princeton/College Kid
- Frank Welker: Rutger/College Kid
- Joyce Van Patten: The Swimmer
- Susan Olsen: Auditioning Singer (uncredited)
Production and release 
In June 1959 it was announced that Don Mankiewicz would write a screenplay of an unpublished story by Mauri Grashin, Day Keene, and Dwight Babcock. By December 1960, with the project titled Chautauqua, MGM was ready to make the film with Glenn Ford. Rumours circulating in Hollywood at the time stated that Presley would co-star with Ford, Hope Lange, and Arthur O'Connell, but nothing came of it and the film was shelved.
In 1964, Dick Van Dyke had been signed up to star in a film titled Chautauqua based on a book called Merrily We Roll Along by Gay MacLaren. After several years of failed screenplays and cast changes, MGM sold the rights to Columbia Pictures in May 1965. Columbia also struggled to get the project off the ground, and in April 1968 sold the rights back to MGM.
This time MGM lined up Presley to star and production began in the fall of 1968. Chautauqua was the working title, but it was later changed to The Trouble with Girls when the producers worried that audiences would not understand the title or be able to pronounce it.
Colonel Tom Parker, Presley’s manager, originally wanted actress Jean Hale for the female lead, but Marlyn Mason was cast at the insistence of director Peter Tewksbury. Anissa Jones, best known for playing Buffy on the television program Family Affair, made her only film appearance in The Trouble with Girls. Jones would precede Presley in death by nearly a year, dying in August 1976.
Entering the studio for The Trouble with Girls, Presley found himself in the position of knowing he had the goods in the can with his looming comeback television special but given that his last three singles — "You'll Never Walk Alone," "Your Time Hasn't Come Yet Baby," "A Little Less Conversation" — and the Speedway album all tanked, facing a practically dead recording career. The soundtrack contained some minor songs, its only distinctive track by Billy Strange, the producer of the session, and Mac Davis.
The recording session took place at United Artist Recorders in Hollywood, California, on October 23, 1968. "Clean Up Your Own Back Yard" by Strange and Davis, their fourth successful submission to a Presley soundtrack in a row, was the only one released commercially, as the single RCA 47-9747 in 1969, peaking at #35 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Almost" would appear in 1970 on the budget album Let's Be Friends, and his remake of the His Hand in Mine track "Swing Down Sweet Chariot" not until 1983 on Elvis: A Legendary Performer Volume 4. The other songs would wait to be issued until RCA's soundtrack compilations of the 1990s combining released songs and outtakes from multiple films on one compact disc.
- Elvis Presley - vocals
- The Blossoms, The Mello Men - backing vocals
- Jack Halloran, Ronald Hicklin, Marilyn Mason - backing vocals
- Roy Caton - trumpet
- Lew McCreary - trombone
- Buddy Collette - clarinet
- Joseph Gibbons, Gerald McGee, Morton Marker - electric guitar
- Don Randi - piano
- Max Bennett - bass
- John Guerin, Frank Carlson - drums
- unknown horns and strings
Soundtrack listing 
- "Clean Up Your Own Backyard" (Billy Strange and Mac Davis)
- "Swing Down Sweet Chariot" (traditional, arranged by Elvis Presley)
- "Signs of the Zodiac" (Buddy Kaye and Ben Weisman) (Duet with Marlyn Mason)
- "Almost" (Buddy Kaye and Ben Weisman)
- "The Whiffenpoof Song" (Ted Galloway, Meade Minnigerode, George Pomeroy) (not used in film)
- "Violet (Flower of NYU)" (Steven Dueker and Peter Lohstroh) The second adaptation in Presley's career of the American Civil War song "Aura Lee" from 1861 (the first being Love Me Tender).
- Worth, Fred. Elvis: His Life from A To Z. pp. 299–301.
- Tom Lisanti (2003). Drive-In Dream Girls: A Galaxy of B-movie Starlets of the Sixties. McFarland. pp. 118–122. ISBN 0-7864-1575-4.
- "Anissa Jones filmography". AllMovie Guide. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
- Roger Greenspun (December 11, 1969). "‘Trouble With Girls’". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
- Jorgensen, Ernst. Elvis Presley A Life in Music: The Complete Recording Sessions. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998; pp. 261-262.
- Jorgensen, op. cit., p. 260, 419.
- Jorgensen, op. cit., p. 260, 419.
- The Trouble with Girls at the Internet Movie Database
- Comprehensive review by Chad Plambeck at 3-B Theater
- Review by Jon Danziger at digitallyOBSESSED!, August 2, 2004.
- Review by Bill Treadway at DVD Verdict, July 23, 2004.