Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 5, 2023)
As the 1960s progressed, Elvis Presley became less relevant as a pop star, but he continued to crank out feature films. For another of these, we head to 1966’s Spinout.
Mike McCoy (Presley) sings in a touring band. He also drives a racecar part-time.
Though Mike enjoys life as a roguish single dude, he finds that status threatened when three different women actively pursue his hand in marriage. Mike deals with these romantic entanglements as well as efforts to get him to drive a rich entrepreneur’s (Carl Betz) car in a competition.
Boy, that doesn’t sound like much of a plot, does it? Though truthfully, that applies to most of Presley’s movies.
With precious few exceptions, Presley’s flicks existed as ways to keep the Elvis brand out there and to sell records. Famously, Presley didn’t do concert tours for years, so his two or three films every year allowed him to remain present in the public eye.
Unfortunately, Presley’s flicks didn’t evolve with the ever-changing times, and Spinout acts as emblematic of this trend. In a year where we got groundbreaking albums like Revolver, Blonde on Blonde and Pet Sounds, Elvis felt permanently stuck in 1960.
Spinout casts Elvis as the “Elvis Presley Character”: cocky, handsome, talented, and beloved by all females he meets. Each new movie gave him a slightly different role, but they all mushed into the same persona over the years.
By 1966, Presley seemed wholly bored with all of it. He mails in his performance and shows little of the traditional charisma.
Even the musical side of things doesn’t work. Spinout generated only one single: the title track, and it sputtered to a chart peak of a sad (for Elvis) number 40.
I can’t claim Presley got short-changed. The soundtrack comes chock full of utterly forgettable songs.
The simplistic “plot” doesn’t help matters. Spinout really offers an extended sitcom, one with stabs at cheap laughs and not much more.
As noted, the “story” exists as a loose framework for these comedic bits as well as music. It seems scattershot and borderline incoherent.
The characters shift and change to go wherever the sloppy script wants. Mike comes across as a borderline idiot, one who shoots himself in the foot due to his “rebellious streak”.
This results in a silly movie that lacks any real entertainment value. Shelley Fabares does look gorgeous, but otherwise nothing here works.