Promotional film poster
|Directed by||Norman Taurog
|Produced by||Ben Schwalb|
|Written by||Elwood Ullman
|Music by||Walter Scharf|
|Editing by||Archie Marshek|
|Distributed by||Allied Artists Pictures Corporation|
|Running time||91 minutes|
|Box office||$3,400,000 (US/ Canada rentals)|
Tickle Me is a 1965 Western musical comedy film starring Elvis Presley as a champion rodeo bull-rider and bronco-buster.
Presley won a 1966 Golden Laurel Award as the best male actor in a musical film for his role in this comedy. It is also the only Elvis film released by Allied Artists Pictures. It singlehandedly saved the Allied Artists studio from financial collapse, Tickle Me helping to avert bankruptcy with one of the songs from its recycled soundtrack, "(Such an) Easy Question", which was a Top 40 hit in the United States, peaking at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reaching #1 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart in July, 1965. The film would eventually make $5 million at the box office.
The film was first released onto the home video market in the VHS format in the early 1980s in a limited version from Allied Artists Home Video. It was issued again by CBS/Fox video in 1985, 1987 and 1992. Its final VHS issue was from Warner Home Video in 1997. In the summer of 2007, the film was released for the first time on DVD, in the wide-screen letterbox format.
- Elvis Presley – Lonnie Beale/Panhandle Kid
- Julie Adams – Vera Radford
- Jocelyn Lane – Pamela Meritt
- Jack Mullaney – Stanley Potter
- Merry Anders – Estelle Penfield
- Connie Gilchrist – Hilda
- Edward Faulkner – Brad Bentley
- Allison Hayes – Mabel
- Bill Williams - Deputy Sturdivant
- Red West (uncredited) - Mabel's boyfriend
Elvis Presley is Lonnie Beale, an out-of-work rodeo star trying to make ends meet until the season starts up again. He comes to the town of Zuni Wells (a fictional town somewhere in the American West) because a friend says he can get a job on a ranch, but his friend is nowhere to be found. Having no other option, Lonnie begins singing in a local club, but he gets fired after a fight with one of the customers. Thankfully, Vera Radford (Julie Adams) sees his performance and offers him a job at a ranch she runs called the Circle-Z to take care of the horses. The Circle-Z is not what Lonnie expected, though: It is a guest ranch where actresses and models go to lose weight and to get in shape, a fitness salon, referred to as "Yogurt Gulch".
After upsetting the staff a few times by disrupting activities with his singing, Lonnie follows Pam Meritt (Jocelyn Lane) to the nearby ghost town of Silverado where he learns that one of her relatives has hidden a treasure. While there, they have a comical vision of what the town must have been like when it was still populated. Back at the ranch, people keep trying to abduct Pam to find out what she knows about the location of the treasure. In specific, they want to get their hands on a letter in Pam's possession. Lonnie finds himself defending her more than once. Lonnie and Pam soon begin a relationship, but matters are complicated when Vera throws herself at him and Pam walks in on them.
There is a brief interlude where Western films are spoofed and parodied in a comedy sequence where Lonnie Beal is the Panhandle Kid, a milk drinking cowboy, with Pam Meritt and Stanley Potter (Jack Mullaney) in costume as characters in the saloon.
When rodeo season starts, Lonnie goes on the circuit, but because things were left unresolved with Pam, he is unable to do his job well. Every time he tries to call her, she hangs up on him, and when he writes to her, she sends it back, marked "Return to Sender" (an homage to a song that was a big hit for Elvis in 1962). Eventually, one of the ranch hands, Stanley Potter, finds Lonnie on the circuit and talks him into confronting Pam.
When the two reach the Circle-Z, Pam is on her way to Silverado, so they follow her. A fierce storm begins when they arrive, so the trio decide to spend the night in a deserted hotel. But the hotel is not as deserted as they think. It seems to be haunted, as strange things keep happening to Pam and Stanley whenever Lonnie is not around. Eventually we learn that the ghosts and goblins in the hotel are actually masked men trying to get to Pam's treasure.
Finally, the men after the treasure are defeated and unmasked, and the hiding place of the treasure is discovered in the hotel. Lonnie and Pam decide to get married, and they have a big reception at the Circle-Z. Stanley gets tangled up in the decorations behind their car. The film ends with Lonnie singing to Pam as they drive off toward their honeymoon, dragging Stanley in a metal tub behind them.
|EP by Elvis Presley|
For the first time in his career, the budget did not allow new songs to be commissioned for a Presley film. The soundtrack was assembled from previously released recordings, recycling nine songs in total with some dating back to recording sessions from 1960.
Four of the songs were released on singles, with the other five on an extended play single as the official soundtrack. "(Such an) Easy Question," by Otis Blackwell and Winfield Scott, was paired with "It Feels So Right" by Fred Wise and Ben Weisman. Released previously on Pot Luck with Elvis and Elvis Is Back! respectively, they were reissued as catalogue 47-8585 in June 1965, with the A-side "Easy Question" going to #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the B-side peaking at #55 independently. A second pairing, "I'm Yours" by Don Robertson and Hal Blair also from Pot Luck with "(It's A) Long Lonely Highway" by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman from Kissin' Cousins, were reissued as the A and b sides respectively of catalogue item 47-8657 in August 1965, "I'm Yours" also peaking on the chart at #11.
The soundtrack EP was issued in June 1965 containing the other five songs. It only reached #70 on the singles chart, another indication of format's lack of appeal by the mid-1960s. RCA would only issue one more extended play single for Presley in 1967. And with Beatlemania and the British Invasion in full swing, the music was stagnant.
In the 1960s, to obtain all nine songs in long-playing format, one would have to acquire Elvis Is Back!, Something for Everybody, Pot Luck, and the Fun in Acapulco and Kissin' Cousins soundtracks. In 2005, Sony Music issued a compact disc soundtrack of Tickle Me on their specialty Presley-oriented collectors label, Follow That Dream. It featured the film's nine songs along with five bonus tracks.
- Elvis Presley – vocals, guitar
- The Jordanaires, Millie Kirkham - backing vocals
- Boots Randolph - saxophone
- Scotty Moore, Hank Garland, Harold Bradley, Grady Martin, Jerry Kennedy – electric guitar
- Floyd Cramer - piano
- Bob Moore - bass
- D. J. Fontana, Buddy Harman - drums
Chart positions taken from the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart
|Track||Recorded||Original LP Issue||Catalogue||Release Date||Chart Peak||Song Title||Writers||Time|
|1.||3/19/62||Pot Luck with Elvis||LSP 2523||6/5/62||#4||I Feel That I've Known You Forever||Doc Pomus and Alan Jeffreys||1:39|
|2.||5/27/63||Fun in Acapulco||LSP 2756||11/1/63||#3||Slowly But Surely||Ben Weisman and Sid Wayne||2:12|
|Track||Recorded||Original LP Issue||Issue Catalogue||Release Date||Chart Peak||Song Title||Writers||Time|
|1.||10/15/61||Pot Luck with Elvis||LSP 2523||6/5/62||#4||Night Rider||Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman||2:08|
|2.||3/12/61||Something for Everybody||LSP 2370||6/17/61||#1||Put the Blame On Me||Fred Wise, Kay Twomey, Norman Blagman||1:57|
|3.||4/3/60||Elvis Is Back!||LSP 2231||4/8/60||#2||Dirty, Dirty Feeling||Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller||1:35|
Elvis Presley won a 1966 Golden Laurel Award for best male performance in a musical film. This was the only acting award that he received during his film career.
- This figure consists of anticipated rentals accruing distributors in North America. See "Big Rental Pictures of 1965", Variety, 5 January 1966 p 6
- Elvis in Hollywood broadcast of October 6, 2007, Elvis Radio; Sirius Radio Channel 13.
- Jorgensen, Ernst. Elvis Presley A Life in Music: The Complete Recording Sessions. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998; p. 199.
- Jorgensen, op. cit., p. 416.
- Comprehensive review by Chad Plambeck at 3-B Theater
- Tickle Me at the Internet Movie Database
- Elvis - The Hollywood Collection (Kissin' Cousins/Girl Happy/Tickle Me/Stay Away, Joe/Live a Little, Love a Little/Charro!) Review by Stuart Galbraith IV at DVD Talk, September 11, 2007
- Review by DSH at The DVD Journal