The Trouble with Girls (film)

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The Trouble with Girls
theatrical release poster
Directed byPeter Tewksbury
Produced byLester Welch
Screenplay by
  • Arnold Peyser
  • Lois Peyser
Based onChautauqua
by Day Keene and Dwight V. Babcock
Music byBilly Strange
CinematographyJacques R. Marquette
Edited byAl Clark
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • September 3, 1969 (1969-09-03) (US)
Running time
99 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Trouble with Girls, the full title of which is The Trouble with Girls (and How to Get into It), is a 1969 film directed by Peter Tewksbury and starring Elvis Presley. It was one of Presley's final acting roles, along with the same year's Change of Habit. It is based on the 1960 novel Chautauqua by Day Keene and Dwight Vincent Babcock.


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.


Cast notes

Production and release[edit]


In June 1959 it was announced that Don Mankiewicz would write a screenplay of an unpublished story by Mauri Grashin, Day Keene, and Dwight Babcock.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.[3] Rumours circulating in Hollywood at the time stated that Presley would co-star with Ford, Hope Lange, and Arthur O'Connell,[3] 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 Morally We Roll Along by Gay MacLaren.[4] After several years of failed screenplays and cast changes, MGM sold the rights to Columbia Pictures in May 1965.[3] Columbia also struggled to get the project off the ground, and in April 1968 sold the rights back to MGM.[3] 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.[5]


Elvis Presley was paid $850,000 plus 50% of the profits.[6]

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.[5]

The Trouble with Girls was released as the bottom half of a double feature, sharing the screen with the Raquel Welch drama Flareup.[7]


The Trouble With Girls (and How to Get into It) performed poorly in cinemas but strongly on the drive-in circuit. While it met with generally poor reviews on release, post Presley’s death critics re-visited the film and started to acknowledge its merits – interesting narrative, strong supporting cast, authentic period feel and innovative filming techniques.[8]


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.[9] The soundtrack contained some minor songs, its only distinctive track by Billy Strange, the producer of the session, and Mac Davis.[9]

The recording session took place at United Artists Recorders in Hollywood, on October 23, 1968. "Clean Up Your Own Backyard" by Strange and Davis, their fourth successful submission to a Presley soundtrack in a row, was the only one released concurrently with the film's release, as the single RCA 47-9747 in 1969, peaking at #35 on the Billboard Hot 100.[10] "Almost" would appear in 1970 on the budget album Let's Be Friends, the only other track from the film to be released during Presley's lifetime. His remake of the His Hand in Mine track "Swing Down Sweet Chariot" would not see release until 1983 on Elvis: A Legendary Performer Volume 4.[10] 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.


  1. "Clean Up Your Own Backyard" (Billy Strange and Mac Davis)
  2. "Swing Down Sweet Chariot" (traditional, arranged by Elvis Presley)
  3. "Signs of the Zodiac" (Buddy Kaye and Ben Weisman, Duet with Marlyn Mason)
  4. "Almost" (Buddy Kaye and Ben Weisman)
  5. "The Whiffenpoof Song" (Ted Galloway, Meade Minnigerode, George Pomeroy; not used in film)
  6. "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 the song "Love Me Tender".


  • In some versions of the soundtrack, "Doodle Doo Doo" is included, performed by Linda Sue Risk, who plays Lily-Jeanne, the mayor's daughter. In the film, the song is performed by Anissa Jones, who plays Carol Bix.


Home media[edit]

The Trouble With Girls was released to DVD by Warner Home Video on August 7, 2007, as a Region 1 widescreen DVD.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Anissa Jones filmography". AllMovie Guide. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
  2. ^ Lawson, Tim and Persons, Alisa (2004). The Magic Behind the Voices: A Who's Who of Cartoon Voice Actors. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi. Pg. 325. ISBN 157806696-4
  3. ^ a b c d Worth, Fred. Elvis: His Life from A To Z. pp. 299–301.
  4. ^ The name of the book is incorrectly given as "Merrily We Roll Along" in Worth, Fred. Elvis: His Life from A To Z. pp. 299–301.
  5. ^ a b Lisanti, Tom (2003). Drive-In Dream Girls: A Galaxy of B-movie Starlets of the Sixties. McFarland. pp. 118–122. ISBN 0-7864-1575-4.
  6. ^ Michael A. Hoey, Elvis' Favorite Director: The Amazing 52-Film Career of Norman Taurog, Bear Manor Media 2013
  7. ^ Greenspun, Roger (December 11, 1969). "Trouble With Girls". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
  8. ^ Michael A. Hoey, Elvis' Favorite Director: The Amazing 52-Film Career of Norman Taurog, Bear Manor Media 2013
  9. ^ a b Jorgensen pp. 261–262
  10. ^ a b Jorgensen, pp. 260, 419.


  • Jorgensen, Ernst. Elvis Presley A Life in Music: The Complete Recording Sessions. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998

External links[edit]