Tuesday, March 21, 2006

AndressFest (Part 2)

Our second AndressFest '06 movie was 1963's 'Fun in Acapulco'. It was an Elvis Presley vehicle, in much the same direct, literal, no-nonsense sense that the Popemobile is a vehicle for a certain pontiff. Quite possibly against her better judgement, Ursula was dragged along for the ride.

Having been recently fired from his job as a crewhand on a luxury yacht, Elvis finds himself penniless and friendless in Acapulco, the city of fun, adventure and more mariachi bands per square foot than air molecules. But being Elvis, he's not friendless for long, as he strikes up a relationship with street urchin and would-be impresario Raoul. Raoul has heard Elvis sing, and is pretty sure that he can utilise his planet-wide network of "cousins" to make him the Next Big Thing.

Now that they're amigos, Elvis and Raoul go for a bike ride through the sunny, rear-projected streets of Acapulco. It's something you don't see much in movies any more: a grown man riding around on a bicycle with a young boy on his lap. And it's even more rare for them to burst into song.

What the scene really needed was more Ursula, possibly with some kind of sniper rifle. But that's just my opinion. This is probably why I was never asked to direct an Elvis movie.

True to his word, Raoul gets Elvis not one but two jobs at a fancy resort. Elvis is to be a lifeguard by day and a cabaret act by night... now you know where David Hasselhoff got the idea. It is here that he meets Ursula, playing Margarita Dauphin, some sort of Eurotrash royalty reduced to being the social director at the resort. Since everyone loves Elvis, Margarita falls for him right away. And not only does Elvis fall for her, but he also becomes enamoured with her alcoholic namesake. It's probably for the best that he didn't meet a girl named Crystal Meth.

But even in an Elvis movie, where the script is generally so brief that you could copy it out with a set of Scrabble tiles, there has to be at least a little conflict. For a start, there's Margarita's ex-beau and champion high diver Moreno, who is not about to let this Americano lothario steal his hot blonde Swiss bikini babe. Then there's sultry lady matador Dolores Gomez, who regards Elvis with much the same single-minded desire as Elvis regarded a good serving of chicken-fried bacon.

But despite the machinations of Moreno and Dolores, Elvis and Margarita conquer their respective fears, doubts and misunderstandings to find true love, after beating Moreno at cliff diving and battling their way through the swarms of mariachi bands who infest every single bloody scene.

'Fun in Acapulco' is the sort of film that you can watch and then ask yourself, "What the hell was all that about?". The simple answer is that it was about Elvis, and about screwing hard-earned dollars out of Elvis' many fans. Poor Ursula wasn't much more than a romantic cipher, whose moods, motivations and personality flip-flopped from scene to scene according to the requirements of the nonsensical script. She looks slightly sad in this movie, meandering around the poolside scenes in a range of bright pastel bikinis and capri pants, not so much inhabiting the set as blending in with it. In the final crowd scene she's almost impossible to see, as her orange and yellow dress is perfect camouflage against the colourful backdrop of cafe umbrellas and tablecloths.

But nevermind that. Two years later Ursula had the last laugh, and top-billing, in the Hammer Studios production of 'She'. But for that, you'll have to tune in tomorrow for the final review of AndressFest '06.


Hmmm, you taste like Quaaludes and pork fat.


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