Stunt pilot and crop duster Elvis Presley has his airplane seized by the sheriff because he can’t pay his bills thanks to partner Gary Lockwood’s gambling problems; Elvis and Gary have two weeks to raise the dough, but end up taking a little Asian girl to the Seattle World’s Fair instead, where Gary hopes to raise the dough and Elvis hopes to woo the State Fair’s nurse by singing an awful lot of nondescript songs.
Any motion picture that begins with Elvis Presley singing a song about how he doesn’t have a care in the world is not going to be a top-drawer Presley vehicle. That said, I’ve seen worse. (Checked out Clambake lately?) It Happened at the World’s Fair ranks as a pleasant enough mid-grade Presley vehicle, better than most of the things Colonel Parker stuck him in after the Army. Elvis got a couple of fairly well known songs out of this (including One Broken Heart for Sale and They Remind me Too Much of You), was able to display his combat training with some sweet karate kicks, and has a smokin’ hot makeout session with Yvonne “Batgirl” Craig, so he clearly earned his salary on this one. (And you can't miss future Elvis portrayer Kurt Russell as the kid who kicks him in the shin, either.)
Words to Remember:
Presley, after referring to Miss Craig during the make-out session as Shirley, only to be reminded that her name is in fact Dorothy: “To me you’ll always be Shirley, the Greek Goddess of Beauty.”
The best news, Elvis fans (or World’s Fair fans, or both) is that the Blu-ray is a stunner, gorgeous picture and sound; Elvis has rarely looked better, except when he was in a better movie. The only extra is a trailer, but if Warner Archive wanted to keep going back to the vaults for more Elvis upgrades, I’d take ‘em all. There is a lot of footage at the actual State Fair in Seattle, although how much Elvis and leading lady Joan O'Brien actually saw of it is a matter of conjecture. As leading ladies go, well, she's no Delores Hart or Ann-Margret, but who is?
And that reminds me: a few years ago, discussing Presley pictures with a group of friends, I discovered that NONE of us had seen this one. “So NOBODY knows what happened at the World’s Fair?!?!?” I mused, and that became a running joke with us: “Say, did you ever find out what happened at the World’s Fair?” As it turns out, now we know the answer, and we never would’ve suspected it would turn out to be that what happened was Elvis sang One Broken Heart for Sale in a trailer park with a bunch of middle-aged bald men. They’re the Mello Men, and you can’t miss tall Thurl Ravenscroft, their bass man (and the voice of Tony the Tiger and the singer of Grinch songs on the Christmas special). Now our new running joke, since none of us have seen Stay Away, Joe, is “What is Joe supposed to stay the heck away from?” Meanwhile, Change of Habit is coming soon from Kino Lorber. That’s the one with Elvis and Sister Mary Tyler Moore. THAT one we’ve seen.