Clambake (1967)

clambake poster 1967 movie elvis presley
5.5 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 5/10


Feels tired and lazy

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Clambake

Studio:  Levy-Gardner-Laven

Genre(s):  Musical/Romance

Release Date(s):  October 18, 1967

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

clambake elvis presley shelley fabares beach song

You’re shallow.

Scott Heyward (Elvis Presley) is the son of oil man Duster Heyward (James Gregory) but only wants to be accepted for who he is instead of his money.  When he takes off for a break, he meet gas station attendant Tom Wilson (Will Hutchins) who is headed to Florida to work as a ski instructor.  Switching places with Tom, Scott meets a woman named Dianne Carter (Shelley Fabares) who has come to Florida to find a man with money to marry and Dianne has her eyes set on pajama tycoon James J. Jamison III (Bill Bixby).  Dianne finds herself falling for Tom who is everything she doesn’t want in a man, but Tom questions if Dianne can love him for who he is.

Directed by Arthur H. Nadel, Clambake is an Elvis musical and follows Elvis’s Double Trouble also released in 1967.  The movie was released to mixed to negative reviews and was the last of Elvis’s films for United Artists (it was also the last time Elvis received a million dollar film contract).

Elvis movies are almost always inherently bad.  Elvis was not a great actor and the movies were generally created as showcases for Elvis’ songs and albums.  By the time Clambake rolled around, the musical was on the decline and Elvis in general had peaked in popularity.  Clambake feels half-baked.

clambake waterskiing elvis presley shelley fabares

Seems real to me…

The movie is basically a retelling of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper.  The two characters work together to experience life they never got to have.  Elvis makes a big stink about going it on his own, but frequently has Tom use his money to get things like GOOP from his company and other little things (Elvis sticks to his plans in the big things).  The movie also has a cheesy rivalry between Elvis and Bill Bixby who sees Elvis’ character as the “hired help”.

Elvis just kind of costs through the movie and the music also feels like coasting.  Will Hutchins just plays up the hick role and Bill Bixby does a good job oozing slime which contradicts his later roles as “the nice guy”.  Shelley Fabares is the shallow girl who admits it and of course comes around to Elvis while Gary Merrill is the stand in father figure for Elvis when his real father James Gregory won’t support him.  Teri Garr and Corbin Bernsen both have uncredited cameos in the movie as extras.

clambake boat race bill bixby

Bill’s looking angry…and you won’t like him when he’s angry

With blah-blah song (“Clambake” is ok at best), the movie could have done with some nice location shooting in Florida.  Instead, the movie just shoots on sets and used California for any location shots.  It looks horrible and also adds to the idea that not much thought or money was put into the making.

Clambake is for Elvis fans only.  If you are an Elvis fan, you can’t get enough of the guy, and Clambake is Elvis at his most generic best.  The movie isn’t very interesting nor is it worth seeking out if you aren’t a fan of the King.  Elvis followed Clambake with Stay Away, Joe in 1968.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response