It’s 1927, and smooth-talking Walter Hale (Elvis Presley in his penultimate movie) brings his mobile “Chautauqua” carnival show – an entertainment born out of the popular adult educational movement of the previous century – to smalltown Iowa.
Excitement spreads as local talent, both young and old, audition for a chance to perform onstage. Talented child performers Carol (Anissa Jones) and Willie (Pepe Brown) impress outspoken piano-playing children’s entertainer Charlene (Marlyn Mason) with their song-and-dance routine, but business manager Johnny (Edward Andrews) insists she put the mayor’s untalented daughter in the show instead.
Meanwhile, Carol’s mother Nita Bix (Sheree North) is embroiled in an affair with sleazy drugstore proprietor Harrison Wilby (Dabney Coleman), who turns nasty when she has a change of heart.
Walter already has a heap of troubles but things turn worse when Wilby is found dead and Walter has to persuade the murderer to confess on stage.
The supporting cast includes Vincent Price and John Carradine, but the result is really only notable for Elvis’s lack of screen time and the standout track, Clean Up Your Own Backyard.
Joyce Van Patten