CALIFORNIA HOLIDAYSadly, Elvis Presley seems unable to shake off the baneful influence of Hal Wallis. Far behind him are the days of Flaming Star and Wild in the Country (screenplay by Clifford Odets, no less) where he felt it incumbent upon him to make at least some concessions to acting: now it is enough just to sit back and let things happen around him. And what does happen around him is monotonously and unfailingly vacuous. Presumably easy money is his temptation here. Producer Joe Pasternak is content to pull Elvis up beside him onto the Presley image bandwagon, despite the fact that it belongs irretrievably to the fifties and is as dated as last week’s Sunday newspapers.
Apart from any other considerations, Elvis is now getting decidedly tubby. To be brutally frank he is becoming too old for such goings-on, and while he hasn’t yet reached eligibility for the mutton-lamb comparison, he should take stock seriously of where his career is going. I can think of more careers that have been ruined by trying to repeat earlier successes, and let’s face it most of his films have been played to half empty cinemas.
This is all the sadder because no-one can deny that he does have genuine acting ability, as the two titles quoted above show. It is in his own interests, I feel, that he should put a stop to the ‘holiday’ cycle, even if only a temporary one, and make a serious effort to broaden his range. Agents please note.
Having got that off my chest, what’s good about California Holiday? Two words: Warren Berlinger. This boy really is a comic, and gives the rest of the film a much needed lift. Unhappily his efforts only pinpoint the surrounding witlessness. The model of California Holiday seems to be the American International ‘surfing’ pictures: the humour seems very much on the same level, though without the welcome and unexpected touches of sophistication which creep in occasionally, almost one feels despite, rather than because of, the producers.
Richard Davis, Films and Filming (1966)