A silly comic thriller that's only intermittently redeemed by a few lively songs, Double Trouble is one of Elvis Presley's weakest vehicles. The rock-'n'-roll icon sleepwalks through this far-fetched film that casts him as a club singer on a European tour who gets into plenty of trouble with a rich teen fan he just can't shake. The best thing about this misguided mess is its luscious transfer struck from a new 4K scan of the original camera negative. Excellent audio and a couple of Tom and Jerry cartoons also enhance this disc that's exclusively For Fans Only.
I recently called Elvis Presley's 1966 musical Spinout mediocre, but it's a masterpiece compared to Presley's 1967 debacle Double Trouble. The King hits a new low in this silly, occasionally incoherent, and altogether dreadful comic thriller sprinkled with nine songs that provide momentary relief from the mindless mayhem.
From 1963 through 1968, Presley cranked out three pictures per year (except in 1964 when he made just two) and it's obvious that by 1967 whoever was picking his projects was scraping the bottom of the barrel. The poster art leads us to believe Double Trouble is a story about twin Presleys, which surely would have been more interesting than the inane concoction about smugglers and hitmen dreamt up by Marc Brandel and scripted by Jo Heims, who would go on to write fine screenplays for Play Misty for Me and Breezy, but can't salvage the mess she's handed here. Would two Elvises be better than one? They certainly couldn't be any worse.
Presley plays Guy Lambert, a hip nightclub singer with a backup band of wannabe Beatles. He's in London on the first leg of a European tour and is relentlessly pursued - and mercilessly teased - by star-struck fan Jill Conway (Annette Day), who much to Guy's shock and dismay is a few days away from her 18th birthday. She's also an heiress, and when her stuffy, disapproving father (John Williams) learns of her infatuation with Guy, he ships her off to school in Belgium, which just happens to be the next stop on Guy's itinerary. The two wind up on the same ferry crossing the English Channel and shortly after it disembarks, Guy falls victim to the first of several life-threatening mishaps.
Also tailing Guy is high-class socialite Claire Dunham (Yvonne Romain), a mysterious temptress who vies for his attention. Add to the mix a couple of bumbling smugglers who plant a stash of diamonds in Jill's luggage and a gloved assailant who terrorizes Guy and Jill at every turn and you've got the titular trouble that fuels this idiotic exercise.
Double Trouble could be a slick, clever satire, but no one involved exerts the necessary effort toward that end. The whole enterprise flaunts a slapdash feel, as if it was thrown together on a whim and shot on a tight deadline. The film marked director Norman Taurog's seventh collaboration with Presley, so who can blame him if he felt a little burnt out. (Taurog, whose directing career dates back to the silent era and includes films with Spencer Tracy, Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, and Cary Grant, would helm two more Elvis movies in succession - 1968's Speedway and Live a Little, Love a Little - then retire at age 69...maybe because he couldn't bear the thought of working on another Presley picture!) By this time, the Presley formula was wearing out its welcome and Elvis himself seems to struggle to muster much enthusiasm for his part or the antics going on around him.
Double Trouble did launch the careers of two notable Hollywood figures, future über-producer Irwin Winkler (who would win a Best Picture Oscar a decade later for Rocky) and actor Michael Murphy, who oozes smarmy charm in a bit part. Both of them survived their debuts here and eventually prospered, but the same can't be said for Annette Day, who never made another movie and might never have acted again, and Yvonne Romain, who would vanish from the screen for six years before making her final film appearance as the doomed titular character in The Last of Sheila.
Presley was popular enough to slough off Double Trouble and continue crooning and cavorting in several more subpar vehicles over the next couple of years, but as the 1960s wound down, so did Elvis's film career. It's a shame his movies don't possess more substance or allow him to play anything other than a thinly veiled version of himself, but to be fair, he gave his fans what they wanted and they responded to the tune of millions in box office receipts. Double Trouble, for all its myriad faults, is standard Presley fare, and if you're an aficionado of this iconic legend, you'll lap it up.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Double Trouble arrives on Blu-ray packaged in a standard case. Video codec is 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 and audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono. Once the disc is inserted into the player, the static menu without music immediately pops up; no previews or promos precede it.
The movie may be dumb, but the transfer is gorgeous. (It's not as beautiful as Spinout, but it comes close.) Warner Archive once again weaves its magic with a new 4K scan of the original camera negative. The resulting 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer faithfully honors the vibrant cinematography of Daniel L. Fapp, who won an Oscar for West Side Story and nabbed another six nominations. The image bursts with brilliant color, features excellent clarity and contrast, and flaunts a lovely film-like feel. Blacks are rich, the bright whites resist blooming, fine details are vivid, fog and smoke are well rendered, and sharp close-ups flatter all the youthful cast members. An array of lush hues delight the eye, especially during the colorful festival sequence, and not a single speck of dirt or errant scratch mar the pristine print. Double Trouble has certainly never looked better, so if you're an Elvis fan, you'll want to upgrade for sure.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track outputs the kind of punchy sound one expects from a Presley movie. A wide dynamic scale embraces all the highs and lows of Presley's nine songs and gives the music score by Jeff Alexander, who also scored Presley's Clambake and Speedway, plenty of room to breathe. Excellent fidelity and tonal depth lend Presley's vocals wonderful resonance and all the dialogue and song lyrics are clear and easy to comprehend. Sonic accents like gunfire, shattering glass, and a ship's foghorn are crisp and no age-related hiss, pops, or crackle intrude.
The extras package includes two Tom and Jerry cartoons that are more entertaining than the movie.
Vintage Cartoon: Rock 'N' Rodent (HD, 7 minutes) - In this Chuck Jones/Abe Levitow short, Jerry is a drummer in the house band at a mouse nightclub that Tom doggedly tries to invade after the noise disturbs his slumber.
Vintage Cartoon: Surf-Bored Cat (HD, 6 minutes) - Jones and Levitow team up again for this nautical cartoon that chronicles Tom's attempts to learn surfing, evade the jaws of a shark, and deal with the always pesky Jerry.
Theatrical Trailer (SD, 3 minutes) - The film's original preview touts the story's "wild combination of music and mystery, jewel thieves and jeweled women."
Double Trouble is far from Elvis Presley's finest cinematic hour-and-a-half. The silly madcap story is a mess and the songs are subpar, too. (No one wants to hear Elvis sing "Old MacDonald.") Thankfully, the glorious transfer struck from a 4K scan of the original camera negative is trouble-free and so is the remastered audio, but even the top-notch tech can't elevate this forgettable fiasco. For Fans Only.
Order your copy of Elvis' Double Trouble on Blu-ray