“TICKLE ME” isn’t the GREATEST film Elvis has ever made, but it isn’t the worst, either.

The way I look at it, you must take Presley films on their level. This is an enjoyable, lightweight comedy loaded with songs and gals. Even those who hate Elvis will like it for the zany humour of a newcomer, Jack Mullaney, who plays his sidekick on a dude ranch.

The songs? You’ll probably have read about these in last week’s NME news exclusive, that they weren’t recorded specially for “Tickle Me” and some of them have been featured in previous Elvis films and on albums.

I had my doubts about this idea at first, but they’re all good numbers and at least there’s some variety. I couldn’t stand the samey-ness, for instance of the “Blue Hawaii” score.

Briefly the story of “Tickle Me” concerns a glamour-girls’ “slimming ranch” where Elvis (a champion trick rider) works and sings between rodeos.

He gets romantically involved with his boss, Julie Adams, and the gym teacher, Jocelyn Lane, and Jocelyn wins him in the end. There’s also some drama – an excuse for El to get involved in the inevitable punch-ups – some horror and a dream sequence in which he’s seen as a gunslinger. How’s that for value?

The number “Long Lonely Highway” is sung over the credits, with most of the others cropping up as Elvis serenades the girls around, or tries to win back the affections of Jocelyn Lane (who used to be Jackie Lane, sister of Joan Collins).

Yes, “Tickle Me” has plenty in it for Presley fans: songs, comedy, romance, violence, horror. I enjoyed it. It seems like someone listed the Presley films ingredients and said: “Let’s put them all in, and we’ll keep everyone happy!”

NME, July 1965