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DVD Review: Girl Happy

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Written by General Jabbo

Elvis Presley cashes in on the beach-movie craze of the 1960s with Girl Happy. Presley stars as Rusty Wells, a Chicago nightclub singer who is planning on going to Fort Lauderdale with his band on spring break as their engagement at the bar had ended. Seeing their popularity, and not wanting to lose out on any money while they are gone, the bar’s owner Big Frank (Harold J. Stone) wants to extend their stay for four to six weeks. The band balks at the idea, but when Big Frank’s daughter Valerie (Shelley Fabares) decides she wants to go to spring break with her girlfriends, Big Frank changes his tune, offering to pay the band to go down to Florida to keep an eye on her.

Wells and his band arrive in Florida, performing “Spring Fever” to a group of college students, many of who are in lettered college sweaters (even though it is in Florida and presumably warm there). They spot Valerie and after seeing how attractive she is, realize the problems they will have guarding her from eager men. Wells meets Deena (Mary Ann Mobley), who immediately falls for him, but her attempts at intimacy with him keep getting thwarted when he has to leave to keep Valerie out of harm’s way. Along the way, Wells realizes he is falling for Valerie and tells his band that they can enjoy their spring break and he’ll watch her solo. They have no knowledge of his feelings for Valerie and feel guilty for him, trying to get him back together with Deena. This makes for an amusing scene where he has both women in his room and tries to keep them from seeing each other.

Valerie tells her father on the phone that she is falling for Wells and he laughs, saying Wells is only being nice because he paid him to be. Valerie vows revenge and goes on a wild partying spree to make Wells earn his money. Valerie later lets it slip that Wells kissed her and her father says he didn’t pay him to do that and offers to try and make things right between them.

Part of the Elvis 75th Anniversary DVD Collection, Girl Happy is thin on plot, but lighthearted and entertaining. Fabares, in her first of three Presley movies, is cute and charming as good girl Valerie and the soundtrack has a few good songs, most notably the title track and “Puppet on a String.” Presley and Fabares have some chemistry together and the movie is breezy fun.

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