John Parker July 26
Fun in Acapulco (1963). I agree with Gaby totally about this corniness of the obsession with “siesta” and “fiesta;” as well, I too am having a hard time determining the point of this film. Did they really have to call the lifeguard-diving champion “Moreno?” Is Tequila really the cultural icon they make it out to be? Nevertheless, I accept this film for what it is: an Elvis sixties movie meant to purely entertain, not enlighten. So I will try to mention some likeable elements of the film in my post this evening when I’m done with the bad. I grew up in the sixties, as Jon likes to point out, when everyone was crazy about Elvis. His Las Vegas act and career eventually imploded (exploded?) and the excitement died down. He recorded some of the classics of Rock N Roll, as well as hundreds, maybe thousands, of less memorable tunes, like those of this film. His singing here really was awful and his dancing worse. He did manage to do the famous hip moving that he was notorious for, but the bull-fighting-pseudo-flamenco moves were pathetic. The lyrics of the songs were pure corn and made no sense. But, for an early sixties audience that loved him, there was a tremendous market for this kind of film. As well as singing, Elvis, lifeguards, dives, dances, romances, befriends poor Raoul, drinks tequila properly to impress the female bullfighter, eats Vichyssoise with poor manners, even speaks a bit of Spanish, albeit poorly.
James Bond sixties and seventies movies were iconic for having racy Bond Girls, more for their dress than for their spying ability. Ursula Andress arrives out of the pool for Elvis in the same bathing suit and sore stomach muscles that came out of the ocean for Sean Connery. Then there’s the diving so that Elvis can get over his phobia of heights and re-join the family business back in Florida. Luckily for him, and the hotel guests, he doesn’t have to do much as a lifeguard; thanks again siesta. He has time to practice diving on the low board so he can save the day at the end of the film by doing a perfect dive from the dangerous cliffs. I’d believe it if I were an Elvis fan!
The film was entertaining, with musical interludes featuring Elvis and the hilarious-to-watch backup musicians. They did seem to catch Mexican rhythms and folklore; lots of mariachi singing, including “Guadalajara!!” and guitars and maracas. Tourist-resort local culture has to be taken for what it is. The music you hear on Margarita night (pun intended) is, of course, not what the locals listen to. The nightclub entertainment is just that, entertainment. The movie as a whole was fun to watch and gives us an interesting impression of the American perception of Mexico in the early 1960s. For the patrons of the nightclubs, Elvis was the “North American singing sensation;” Sleepy Mexico is not the United States or even part of the same continent.