Elvis portrays Chicago club singer Rusty Wells, who, when not wowing the crowds, has the added task of watching over the overly exuberant daughter of his mob boss while she’s on vacation in Fort Lauderdale. Shelley Fabares, Presley’s favorite leading lady and a singing star in her own right (her 1962 tune Johnny Angel was a #1 hit), plays the daughter. And the lively songs include "Do the Clam," "Good News," "Puppet on a String," the title tune and eight others.
Girl Happy remains, for me, the most memorable movie in the Elvis Presley catalogue. Why you ask? Sometime during my 15th year on this earth I screwed up the courage to actually ask a girl out on a date. The gods must have been in a good mood that day as she agreed. What better place to go than to the newest Elvis Presley movie playing at the Park Movie House in Woonsocket, R.I. The movie was Girl Happy. While the girl, whom I would take to my prom several years later, and the Park are long gone; Girl Happy retains a wonderful place in my memory bank of life.
Girl Happy was an excellent outing for Elvis. The movie actually made sense as Elvis was a singer who was sent to Florida to look after his boss’ daughter who was there for spring break. Shelley Fabares played the daughter and while the chemistry between her and Elvis may not have been of the Ann-Margret caliber, I do consider her to be number two on my list of Elvis’ romantic movie interests. Shelley could act, she could sing and she looked fabulous.
The soundtrack from the movie was issued March 1, 1965 and reached Number 8 on the national charts and earned Elvis another Gold Record. The music is strong and works well within the context of the film and on its own as a stand alone album.
“Girl Happy" is a fine up-tempo pop number that still makes a person smile 40-plus years later. Elvis is in fine vocal form as he belts out what could have been a successful single release. It is vocals that like this one by which Elvis should be remembered.
“Spring Fever,” in the movie, was a duet between Shelley Fabares and Elvis. The album release contained just an Elvis vocal. The duet was superior and did not surface as an official release until it was added as a CD bonus song decades later.
Four more songs conclude the first side of the original LP release. “Startin’ Tonight” “Wolf Call” and even “Fort Lauderdale Chamber Of Commerce” are acceptable pop. Elvis seems to be inspired and really trying as the vocals are crisp and the tracks well produced. “Do Not Disturb” is an excellent ballad in the Presley tradition. All in all this six song set remains one of the best of any contained on his movie soundtracks.
There were two singles released from the album and both probably deserved better than the re-action they received from the record buying public. “Do The Clam” only reached the top twenty for Elvis. The song is not as bad as the title implies. It was a bongo (yes bongo) driven up-tempo song that worked. It even came with a picture sleeve that is quite rare today. “Puppet On A String” may not have been as strong but was certainly better than many of the mid-sixties songs that graced Elvis’ soundtrack albums. Elvis slows the tempo down and just allows his smooth baritone voice to carry the song along.
Girl Happy remains one of the better Elvis Presley movies ranking just below Viva Las Vegas. The soundtrack is also excellent throughout and holds up well. So for an enjoyable evening, grab some popcorn and watch Girl Happy. Better yet, find a date and watch it together.