Clambake (1967) starring Elvis Presley, Shelley Fabares, Will Hutchins, Bill Bixby, Gary Merrill, James Gregory, Suzie Kaye directed by Arthur H. Nadel Movie Review

Clambake (1967)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Will Hutchins and Elvis Presley in Clambake

Under Cooked and Clammed Up

I sometimes wonder who comes up with the names for movies and often think that some are chosen out of sheer desperation because there was nothing better. Take Elvis Presley's "Clambake", here we have a movie about a rich young man pretending to not be rich in order to find a woman who loves him for him and not his money, yet someone decided to call the movie after one rather innocuous scene, it really doesn't make much sense. Anyway ignoring the daftness of the title "Clambake" is another run of the mill Elvis Presley movie where he sings a lot, woos a young woman and just for an extra dose of heart throb measure enters a speed boat race. It is sadly nothing special and many of the songs are forgettable thanks to an array of corny lyrics which only sound good because it is Elvis singing them. To put it simply "Clambake" is on par with so many other Elvis movies and doesn't have anything to make it stand out from the crowd.

Tired of people liking him for his money Scott Haywood (Elvis Presley - Paradise, Hawaiian Style) leaves home and decides to switch places with water ski instructor Tom Wilson (Will Hutchins) who he meets on the way to a luxury Miami hotel. Hoping to meet a woman who will like him for who he is Scott starts giving water skiing lessons and meets the attractive Dianne Carter (Shelley Fabares), but unfortunately she is looking to find herself a millionaire and has her eyes on racing boat driver James J. Jamison III (Bill Bixby). But Scott knows they have a connection and continues to try and woo her in the hope that she will realise which man she really loves.

Bill Bixby and Shelley Fabares in Clambake

"Clambake" actually starts quite promising as we have the set up of rich Scott Haywood meeting ski instructor Tom Wilson and through one of countless contrivances decide to switch places. The actual set up has a similarity to the much later "Coming to America" because the reasoning is that Haywood wants to meet someone who will love him for who he is rather than his money. But beyond the set up "Clambake" then falls into familiar territory as Haywood does meet the attractive Dianne Carter and tries to woo her, whilst she is more interested in play boy boat racer James J. Jamison III. And so what follows is much toing and froing with various musical numbers and comedy before Haywood wins the girl and proves himself as a heart throb by beating Jamison in a boat race, well come on did you expect something different.

And to be honest it is a little annoying that "Clambake" ended up such an average Elvis Presley movie because it had the seeds of being something more. The whole pretending not to be rich had plenty of potential for more drama than what is served up and could easily have been much stronger. And so could the whole idea of someone heading to the luxury resort in order to trap themself a millionaire as pointed out by Dianne when Haywood tries to woo her. But sadly anything in the least bit clever is ignored in favour of churning out some stereotypical Elvis Presley fluff.

What this means is that there is plenty of comedy going on, none of which is subtle as Will Hutchins over acts every single scene he is in, and plenty of musical moments. Sadly those musical moments are not that great and once again Elvis finds himself singing songs which are both corny and forgettable. There is not a single song which sticks in your memory and every scene seems to have come out of the Elvis Presley play book. So whilst walking through a children's play park Scott notices a young child afraid of going down the slide and so we get Elvis singing "Confidence" to a bunch of children. I am sure if I had not been in such a good mood when watching "Clambake" I would have felt that the songs were cheesy rather than just corny and forgettable.

And as for Elvis, well in what can only be a case of a lack of confidence he spends the entire movie covered up which is sort of funny when we having him as a water ski instructor. Aside from that well it is a case of autopilot Elvis as he smiles his way through the movie, makes eyes at Dianne and tries to sing the songs without cracking up at the poor lyrics. You do end up feeling for Elvis because the guy had talent when it came to acting but the rubbish he was to often offered did him little favours. And aside from Elvis there isn't much else to write home about as Will Hutchins as Tom Wilson over acts every scene to try and be funny, Bill Bixby delivers a text book playboy character and Shelley Fabares looks lovely as love interest Dianne Carter.

What this all boils down to is that "Clambake" is another run of the mill Elvis Presley movie and daftly named one at that. It is pretty much what you expect from an Elvis movie with plenty of musical numbers, some comedy and an attractive young woman. But it is kind of annoying as the storyline did have the potential to be something better.