This easy-going rustic drama sees Elvis Presley cast as wide-eyed country boy Toby Kwimper in a film adapted by His Girl Friday screenwriter Charles Lederer from Richard Powell’s novel Pioneer, Go Home.
When his scheming pop decides to “homestead” (squat) on a Florida beach by a public highway, Toby digs the exotic setting – but hates the attention he is suddenly receiving.
Though he just wants to play his guitar, Toby finds himself up to his neck in trouble with government bureaucrats, crime bosses, an adopted little sister who feels more than sisterly love for him, and a social worker with more than his welfare on her mind.
It’s a genuinely entertaining comedy with Elvis’s amiable hick innocently overcoming evildoers at every turn in his bid to find a settled home for his father and his adopted siblings.
This was not actually intended as a vehicle for Elvis – the real stars are Arthur O’Connell as Pop Kwimper and the troublesome homestead – but it benefits from Presley’s gentle, laid-back performance as an unsophisticated young hillbilly.
Director Gordon Douglas seems at a loss over what to do during Elvis’s (too few) songs and directs him lying down and looking rather uncomfortable most of the time, especially during the obvious miming of the title number.
Still, there’s pleasure to be had from watching Presley resist the charms of Joanna Moore or flirt with cute Anne Helm.
Fans may care to note that Presley’s hair here is very close to its original colour before he permanently dyed it black.
H Arthur King
Frank De Kova