Elvis Presley stars as action movie star Johnny Tyronne, whose real-life becomes adventurous when he is drugged and kidnapped by underground assassins while on a goodwill tour of the Middle East to attend the premiere of his latest film in the (fictitious) kingdom of Lunarkand.
The assassins have seen Johnny’s films and want to employ him to carry out the assassination of a desert king for them.
Naturally, Johnny refuses and attempts a daring escape across the desert in the company of the beautiful Princess Shalimar (Mary Ann Mobley). Fran Jeffries plays double-crossing Aishah and looks like a cat-suited Batman baddie.
The exotic locations (actually some of Hollywood’s most unconvincing backlot scenery) add a frisson of interest to the usual formula, but this is negated by the lacklustre plot and forgettable songs which make this another substandard entry in the screen career of Presley (his 19th movie).
Harum Scarum is very primary-coloured, with dancing girls and galloping horses all over the shop, and even Presley’s manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker, was alarmed by the film’s lack of coherence.
After a screening in June 1965, he declared it would take “a 55th cousin to P.T. Barnum” to sell such a waste of celluloid, and even suggested adding a talking camel to make the film seem more deliberately nutty that it already is. The film is directed by ex-hoofer Gene Nelson, who should have continued hoofing.
Cult TV fans may recognise co-star Mary Ann Mobley (a former Miss America) as the first actress to play The Girl from UNCLE on the small screen before Stefanie Powers stepped into the role.
Released in many markets as Harem Holiday.
Mary Ann Mobley