Tag Archives: Sam Katzman

Harum Scarum

Harum Scarum, released in Europe as Harem Holiday, is a 1965 musical film and comedy starring Elvis Presley. The film is regarded by many Elvis fans as one of his worst, despite being the only film he received a million dollar salary for appearing in. Some of the film was based on Rudolph Valentino’s The Sheik released in 1921.

Produced on a very low budget by Sam Katzman, Harum Scarum features Elvis Presley as matinee idol Johnny Tyronne. A takeoff on Elvis himself, Johnny is a famous movie and recording star who makes the women swoon and the men jealous. On a personal appearance tour in Lunarkand — a fictional country somewhere in the Middle East — Johnny is kidnapped by a gang of assassins and suddenly thrust into a plot to kill King Toranshah.

Johnny escapes and falls in with a band of pickpockets and rogues, all the while rescuing damsels in distress and singing a variety of pop-styled tunes. Johnny falls in love with a beautiful handmaiden, played by Mary Ann Mobley; unbeknownst to him, she is really Princess Shalimar, daughter of King Toranshah. Johnny thwarts the assassination attempt on the king, wins the heart of Princess Shalimar, and returns to America with a new act.

Kissin’ Cousins

Kissin’ Cousins is a 1964 musical film starring Elvis Presley in two roles, one as an American soldier, the other his lookalike hillbilly cousin.

Elvis’ fourteenth film was 1964’s Kissin’ Cousins. In this film Elvis played the dual role of look-alike cousins: Josh Morgan, a dark-haired air force officer, and Jodie Tatum, a blond mountain man. Elvis Presley plays a dual role in Kissin’ Cousins, an extremely low-budget musical comedy set in the hills of Tennessee but mostly shot on Hollywood sets. As Air Force officer Josh Morgan, a dark-haired Elvis plays a responsible military man; as blond-haired Jodie Tatum, he appears as a girl-chasin’, guntotin’ mountain Romeo. Josh is assigned the task of persuading the Tatums, his distant relatives on his mother’s side, to sell their land for use as a missile site.

When he visits the Tatums, Josh runs into his blond-haired double as well as two beautiful country cousins, Azalea and Selena. The two girls, played by Yvonne Craig and Pam Austin respectively, both vie for Josh’s affections. Josh eventually chooses Azalea but not before pairing off Selena with his best friend. In the meantime, Jodie takes up with Midge, a beautiful but fiery WAG played by Cynthia Pepper. Josh persuades Pappy Tatum to sell one side of his mountain to the government as long as the military does not interfere with Pappy’s moonshining on the other side.