Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Rich|
|Produced by||Hal B. Wallis|
|Story by||Allan Weiss|
|Music by||Joseph J. Lilley|
Hal Wallis Productions
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$3,300,000 (US/ Canada rentals)|
Roustabout is a 1964 American musical feature film starring Elvis Presley as a singer who takes a job working with a struggling carnival. The film was produced by Hal Wallis and directed by John Rich from a screenplay by Anthony Lawrence and Allan Weiss. The screenplay was nominated for a Writers Guild of America award for best written American musical although Roustabout received a lukewarm review in Variety. The film's soundtrack album was one of Elvis Presley's most successful, reaching no. 1 on the Billboard Album Chart.
Musician Charlie Rogers is fired from a job at a teahouse after brawling with several college students in the parking lot. After a night in jail, Charlie hits the road on his Honda 305 Superhawk motorcycle. He spots Cathy Lean driving with her father Joe, and their employer, Maggie Morgan. When Charlie tries to become friendly with Cathy, Joe forces him off the road and the bike is wrecked after crashing into a wooden fence.
Maggie offers him a place to stay and a job with her struggling traveling carnival while the bike is being repaired. Charlie becomes a "carnie", a roustabout. Maggie recognizes his musical talents and promotes him to feature attraction. His act soon draws large crowds. Off stage, Charlie romances Cathy, which creates animosity with Joe. After the two men repeatedly clash and Charlie is accused of holding back a customer's lost wallet that Joe was accused of stealing, Charlie leaves to star in the much better financed show of rival carnival producer Harry Carver.
Once again, he is a great success. However, when Charlie learns that Maggie is facing bankruptcy, he returns to her carnival. In the musical finale, he is happily reunited with Cathy.
- Elvis Presley as Charlie Rogers
- Barbara Stanwyck as Maggie Morgan
- Joan Freeman as Cathy Lean
- Leif Erickson as Joe Lean
- Jack Albertson as Lou, a teahouse manager
- Sue Ane Langdon as Madame Mijanou, a fortune teller
- Pat Buttram as Harry Carver
- Joan Staley as Marge
- Dabbs Greer as Arthur Nielsen
- Steve Brodie as Fred the Pitcher
- Norman Grabowski as Sam
- Lynn Borden as a college student
- Jane Dulo as Hazel
- Joel Fluellen as Cody Marsh, another roustabout
- Wilda Taylor as Little Egypt, the principal dancer in the number "Little Egypt"
Uncredited actors listed alphabetically:
- Beverly Adams as Cora, a dancer
- Billy Barty as Billy, carnival midget
- Teri Garr as College Girl. Garr can also be seen as a backup dancer during several musical numbers.
- Joy Harmon as College Girl
- Richard Kiel as Strongman. Kiel is better known for playing "Jaws" in the James Bond movies The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979)
- Kent McCord as Carnival Worker
- Raquel Welch as College Girl
- Red West as Carnival Worker
- See also Roustabout (soundtrack)
- "Roustabout" by Bill Giant, Bernie Baum and Florence Kaye
- "Poison Ivy League" by Bill Giant, Bernie Baum and Florence Kaye
- "One Track Heart" by Bill Giant, Bernie Baum and Florence Kaye
- "Wheels On My Heels" by Sid Tepper and Roy C. Bennett
- "It's a Wonderful World" by Sid Tepper and Roy C. Bennett
- "It's Carnival Time" by Ben Weisman and Sid Wayne
- "Carny Town" by Fred Wise and Randy Starr
- "Hard Knocks" by Joy Byers
- "There's a Brand New Day On the Horizon" by Joy Byers
- "Big Love, Big Heartache" by Dolores Fuller, Lee Morris and Sonny Hendrix
- "Little Egypt" by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
- "I'm A Roustabout" by Otis Blackwell and Winfield Scott, a different and unreleased theme song for the movie
All tunes in the film were sung by Presley.
Roustabout reached #8 nationally at the box office in 1964 based on the Variety survey. The film finished as #28 on the year-end list of the top-grossing movies of 1964 and earned $3 million at the box office.
The New York Times writer Howard Thompson complained about "little in the way of dramatic substance" and that the movie wasn't "nearly so trim a package" as Fun in Acapulco or Viva Las Vegas, but noted that Elvis was "perfectly cast" and "surprisingly convincing in his role." Variety was lukewarm, faulting mainly a script "loaded with clichés", but noted the film would likely be a box-office hit based upon its star names, songs, and "Technicolor, Techniscope frame." John L. Scott of the Los Angeles Times called the film "a trite, cliche-ridden story that has been thrown together to showcase Elvis Presley and his vocalizing. It serves its purpose well, and probably will prove a box office bonanza for producer Hal Wallis." The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote, "Presley vehicles have sadly deteriorated since the days of Follow That Dream, and this amiable but uninspiring piece does nothing to halt the process, despite curiosity value provided by Barbra Stanwyck, back with Paramount for the first time in ten years."
Awards and honors
The film's screenwriters, Anthony Lawrence and Allan Weiss, were nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Musical. The film generated a best-selling soundtrack album that went #1 on the Billboard charts. The soundtrack album would be Presley's final #1 soundtrack and last #1 album until 1969's From Elvis in Memphis, which topped the charts in the U.K.
- "Roustabout - Details". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
- This figure consists of anticipated rentals accruing distributors in North America. See "Big Rental Pictures of 1965", Variety, 5 January 1966 p 6
- Adam Victor. The Elvis Encyclopedia. Overlook, 2008.
- Billboard Magazine.
- Cotten, Lee (1987). The Elvis catalog: memorabilia, icons, and collectibles celebrating the king of rock 'n' roll. Doubleday. Page 115. ISBN 9780385237055.
- DeNight, Bill and Sharon Fox (2003). Elvis: Commemorative Edition. Publications International, Limited. Page 186. ISBN 9780785348900.
- Thompson, Howard (November 11, 1964). "Elvis Presley Stars in 'Roustabout,' a Movie About Carnivals". The New York Times: 38.
- "Roustabout". Variety: 6. November 11, 1964.
- Scott, John L. (November 28, 1964). "Elvis Sells New Film Musical". Los Angeles Times: Part III p7.
- "Roustabout". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 31 (371): 178. December 1964.
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