Sixties City presents a wide-ranging series of articles on all aspects of the Sixties, penned by the creator of the iconic 60s music paper Mersey Beat
18th film was released by Allied Artists in1965. This was such a success
for the company at the time that it actually saved Allied Artists from bankruptcy
and was the third highest-grossing film the company ever had, following
’55 Days At Peking’ and ‘El Cid'. Because Allied Artists were in such a
tight spot financially, Colonel Parker agreed to reduce Elvis’s usual movie
fee of $1m to $750,000 – although with the addition of 50% of the profits.
Also, due to the financial constraints, the movie was filmed entirely on the studio back-lot and there was no original music for the soundtrack, so the songs in the film were all taken from previously recorded material. The film had originally been planned in 1958 under the title ‘Rodeo'. This title was also considered, along with ‘Isle of Paradise’, but it ended up as ‘Tickle Me'.
Tickle Me was shot in six weeks in October and November 1964. Production costs actually came in under budget at $1,480,000, which included the $750,000 payment to Parker and Elvis. The film was directed by Norman Taurog, produced Ben Schwalb and had a script by Elwood Ullman and Edward Bernds, who had previously written scripts for the Three Stooges, which explains some of the zany humour in the movie, mainly in the ‘haunted hotel’ sequences.
The songs in the movie were:
‘(It’s A) Long Lonely Highway’ (Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman), sung during the opening credits when Elvis is on a Greyhound bus; ‘It Feels So Right’ (Ben Weisman and Fred Wise) was sung in a corral bar; ‘(Such An) Easy Question’ ( Otis Blackwell and Winfield Scott) was sung in the yard of the Circle Z Guest Ranch; ‘Dirty, Dirty Feeling’ (Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller), was sung in the stables of the Circle Z; ‘Put The Blame On Me’ (Kay Twomey, Fred Wise and Norman Blagman) was sung in a saloon in a dream sequence; ‘I’m Yours’ (Don Robertson and Hal Blair), was sung at a party for Mr & Mrs Dabney; ‘Night Rider’ (Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman), was sung in the ranch yard;
In the story, rodeo rider Lonnie Beale (Elvis) alights from a Greyhound bus at Zoni Wells and carrying his suitcase and guitar enters a bar where he hears Deputy Sheriff Sturdivant (Bill Williams) tell the bar tender that the sheriff is away fishing for two weeks. When he leaves Lonnie asks the bartender if he knows Pete Bowman, who has promised him a job until the rodeo season starts. The barman tells him that Bowman got himself into some trouble and had left town. Spotting Lonnie’s guitar, the barman offers him a job entertaining.
During one of his songs, a blonde is obviously attracted to Lonnie and her boyfriend starts a fight with him. Lonnie quickly sorts him out with a few Kung Fu moves, which catch the eye of Vera Redford (Julie Adams) who owns the Circle Z ranch and she offers him a job. He finds it’s an all-female ranch where women go to slim and improve their health. Lonnie is taken around the ranch by Brad Bentley (Edward Faulkner), who is in love with Vera and sees Lonnie as a rival, but Lonnie is immediately attracted to the aerobics instructor, Pamela Merrit (Jocelyn Lane). He’s next placed in the hands of Stanley Potter (Jack Mullaney), who shows him the ropes and explains that the ranch helps to make girls beautiful: “We roast them, toast them, wiggle them, jiggle them – and give them very little to eat!”.
When everyone gathers for supper that evening, Lonnie approaches Pam, but she gives him the cold shoulder, he then entertains the company with a song. He also begins to entertain the female staff with a song the next morning while feeding the horses, but Brad and Pam complain to Vera about him, saying he is distracting the staff from their work. Lonnie tries to talk to Pam again but she is suspicious of anyone she doesn’t know because she has a letter which has some clues to a treasure of $100,000 which her grandfather has hidden in a ghost town.
That night a burglar tries to steal the letter from Pam’s room and when Lonnie comes to her rescue she accidentally knocks him out and the burglar escapes. The next day she is visited by the Deputy Sheriff who tells her that the attack was her own fault because she has been saying too much about her grandfather’s treasure. The next day Brad and Lonnie fight. Lonnie knocks him out, but this doesn’t impress Pam who drives off in a jeep, setting off for the ghost town alone, even though it has the reputation of being haunted. Arriving in the deserted town, she begins searching for clues in the saloon when Lonnie arrives, worried about her safety. The two then imagine what the saloon was like in the old days and images come to life, in a 'dream sequence' featuring people that they know.
The couple, now feeling even more attracted to each other, return to the ranch and in the evening Lonnie sings once again, but Pam gets upset when he seems to be flirting with the other girls and leaves.
| She heads
back towards her bunkhouse but is waylaid by two assailants who try to bundle
her into a car. Lonnie hears her cries and, joined by Stanley, comes to
the rescue although, in her efforts to help them, Pam once again causes
them to be knocked out and the two would-be kidnappers escape. The Deputy
Sheriff hears the APB and pulls over the two men, only to begin plotting
with them. Meanwhile, Pam shows Lonnie the cryptic letter and he offers
to help her discover the whereabouts of the gold coins. The next morning
Vera asks to see Lonnie and offers him a permanent job and wants him to
move in with her. He refuses, but she kisses him just as Pam comes into
Pam misunderstands what has happened and they have a major row and Lonnie leaves the ranch and joins the rodeo. Stanley comes to see him and talks him into returning. When they get back they find Pam has gone to the ghost town and they follow her. All three are caught in a storm and take refuge overnight in an old hotel. During the next few hours they are plagued by strange hauntings – Pam, sees a werewolf and wax dummies seem to come alive and attack them.
It turns out that the ‘ghosts’ trying to frighten them include the cook from the ranch and some ranch hands. Lonnie and Stanley manage to trap them. Stanley attempts to pull a crowbar from a wall and gold coins spill out – it’s the treasure that was hidden by Pam’s grandfather. As they begin to count the money, Deputy Sheriff Sturdivant arrives, pulls a gun on them and demands the money. Lonnie kicks the gun out of his hand and knocks him out. Brad arrives to tell them Vera has sent him after them. When they return to the ranch, Brad and Vera are now together and Lonnie and Pam decide to get married. The wedding takes place at the Circle Z and the happy couple set off on their honeymoon.
Next to Ann-Margret, Jocelyn Lane was the most glamorous of Elvis’ female co-stars and was often referred to as ‘The British Bardot.’ She gave up her film career in 1971 to marry a Spanish prince, Alfonso Maximiliano deHohenlohe-Langenburg, although they were divorced in 1985.
Also see Sixties City pages: Elvis Films
|Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.
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