Fun in Acapulco.
An In-Depth Look at the Movie “Fun In Acapulco”
Elvis' thirteenth film was 1963's “Fun In Acapulco” for Paramount. The movie premiered nationally on November 27, 1963. It reached #5 on the Variety weekly chart and #33 overall for the year.
Paramount promoted the movie with special souvenir “passports” they created. The Beatles went to see this movie at a drive-in theatre in Miami while on their first U.S. tour. It would be August 27, 1965 before the Beatles would actually get to meet Elvis.
On that occasion, according to “The Beatles Anthology”, John Lennon said, “At first we couldn't make him out. I asked him if he was preparing new ideas for his next film and he drawled, 'Ah sure am. Ah play a country boy with a guitar who meets a few gals along the way, and ah sing a few songs.' We all looked at one another. Finally Presley and Colonel Parker laughed and explained that the only time they departed from that formula - for “Wild In The Country”- they lost money.”
In “Fun in Acapulco”, Elvis plays a former trapeze artist named Mike Windgren, who had developed a fear of heights after the accidental death of a member of his family's trapeze act, The Flying Windgrens. He ends up working as a nightclub singer and a part-time lifeguard while trying to regain his courage and overcome his fear. He eventually dives off the cliffs in Acapulco.
Elvis filmed the movie in Hollywood and did not travel to Mexico where some location shots were filmed.
Production began on January 21, 1963 with soundtrack recording. As Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass were currently popular, the brass sections of the songs echoed their style.
Principal photography began on January 25, 1963. Elvis was very uncomfortable in his costume used during the filming of the song “Marguerita” as he said the untucked, short sleeved shirt was something he would never wear in real life. Because of a previously filmed shot of his double wearing the same costume, it was too late to change the costume for continuity.
Later, he put in a request to producer Hal Wallis to be allowed to keep two of the black silk shirts and the flamenco outfit that he wore in the film.After filming was finished he returned home to Memphis on March 22, 1963.
Priscilla Beaulieu, his future wife, had just moved to Memphis from Germany and she was there waiting for him. (They had met in late 1959. Her father had taken her and the whole family along when he was stationed in Germany with the U.S. Air Force. Elvis was stationed there with the U.S. Army.)
“Fun in Acapulco” was written by Allan Weiss, who also wrote the scripts for the Elvis movies “Blue Hawaii”, “Girls! Girls! Girls!”, “Roustabout”, “Paradise Hawaiian Style”, and “Easy Come, Easy Go”. He was nominated in 1965 for a Writer's Guild of America Award for “Roustabout” as the Best Written American Musical.
“Fun in Acapulco” was produced by Hal Wallis, who produced nine Elvis movies. The others were: “Loving You”, “King Creole”, “G.I. Blues”, “Blue Hawaii”, “Girls! Girls! Girls!”, “Roustabout”, “Paradise Hawaiian Style”, and “Easy Come, Easy Go”. Mr. Wallis was nominated 15 times for an Academy Award. Among them were nominations for “Becket”, “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “The Maltese Falcon”. He won for “Casablanca”.
The executive producer was Joseph Hazen, who would go on the do the same for the Elvis movies “Roustabout”, “Paradise Hawaiian Style”, and “Easy Come, Easy Go”.
The associate producer was Paul Nathan, who also worked on the Elvis films “King Creole”, “G.I. Blues”, “Blue Hawaii”, “Girls! Girls! Girls!”, “Roustabout”, “Paradise Hawaiian Style”, and “Easy Come, Easy Go”.
The director was Richard Thorpe, who had previously directed Elvis in “Jailhouse Rock”.
Swiss-born actress, Ursula Andress played Elvis' love interest Marguerita Dauphin. Ms. Andress went to Rome as a teen and appeared in several Italian films. In 1962, she appeared in the British Bond film “Dr. No”. “Fun In Acapulco” was her first American film, after which she continued to star in international films such as “What's New Pussycat?”, “The Blue Max”, “Casino Royale”, and “The Fifth Musketeer”. In 1964, she won a Golden Globe Award as Most Promising Newcomer Female.
Elsa Cardenas played Elvis' other love interest - the fiery lady bullfighter, Delores Gomez. Ms. Cardenas, born in Baja, Mexico, has had roles in many Spanish productions both film and TV. You might also recognize her from her role as Juana Benedict in the epic film “Giant”.
The most endearing character of the film ( but for Elvis, of course ) might well be that of Raoul Almeido, played by then eight-year-old Larry Domasin. Raoul is a waif shoeshine boy who seems to be a junior Colonel Tom Parker. He knows a “cousin” in every important position in town and, as Mike Windgren's more or less self-appointed manager, pits the cousins against each other for the best deal for his client. His wheeling and dealing is a joy to watch. Mr. Domasin played in a number of films in the 1960's, including “Island of the Blue Dolphins”, “Ride Beyond Vengeance” and “The Rare Breed”.
Alejandro Rey played Moreno, a lifeguard who was Mike Windgren's nemesis. He taunts him as being a “gallina” (chicken) for being afraid of heights and the two are rivals for the love of the leading lady. Mr. Rey has worked in the films such as “Solomon & Sheba”, “Mr. Majestiyk”, and “Grace Kelly”. The Argentinean-born actor began his career in South America. He is probably best known for his roles on American TV in such series as “Dallas” and “The Flying Nun”.
Paul Lukas played Maximillian Dauphin. He was born on a train near Budapest, Hungary and began his career on stage and in film in Budapest and in Austria. In 1927, he came to Hollywood, becoming a U.S. citizen in 1933. He performed in a number of films including “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” and “55 Days at Peking”. He won an Academy Award as well as a Golden Globe for his work in the 1944 film “Watch On The Rhine”.
Troublesome teen Janie Harkins was played by Teri Hope. She was the September 1958 “Playboy” magazine Playmate of the Month. She also played a college student in Elvis' 1964 film “Roustabout”.
In “Fun in Acapulco”, Mike Windgren (Elvis) performed in various nightclubs and hotel showrooms. Club managers were played by several noted character actors. Salvador Baguez, who played the manager of the La Perla club, had roles in “Viva Zapata!”, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”, “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing”, the 1953 version of “Titanic” and others.
Edward Colmans, who played the manager of the Ambassador club, had roles in “Jubilee Trail”, “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse” and “Hellfighters”, among other films.
Alberto Morin, who played the manager of the Hilton, had roles in “For Those Who Think Young”, “Two Mules For Sister Sara” and “The Cheyenne Social Club”.
Martin Garralaga, who played the manager of the Tropicana hotel, had roles in “Captain Scarface”, “The Secret of the Incas” and “Island of the Blue Dolphins”, in which he would again work with Larry Domasin, who had played Raoul in “Fun in Acapulco”.
Bob Harvey, who played a waiter in the movie, became a regular fixture in various 60's beach movies including “Beach Party”, “Bikini Beach”, “Pajama Party”, “Beach Blanket Bingo”, “How To Stuff A Wild Bikini” and “Ghost In the Invisible Bikini”.
If you look very closely you'll see that one of the uncredited cliff divers in “Fun in Acapulco” is a young Gene Simmons. Yes, the same Gene Simmons who would not only try his hand at acting but also at being a rock 'n' roller, achieving fame as a member of the band Kiss. He was born in Israel and at one time the multi-linguist was a school teacher. He has gone on to careers in writing, publishing and merchandising as well. Several other actors and actresses under contract with Paramount played small roles in “Fun In Acapulco” in addition to roles in other Elvis movies.
Mike De Anda was also in “Girl Happy”.
Robert De Anda was also in “Change of Habit”. Charles Evans was in “King Creole”.
Stella Garcia was also in “Change of Habit”.
Terri Garr (years later an Academy Award nominee for “Tootsie”) was also in “Roustabout”, “Viva Las Vegas”and “Kissin' Cousins”.
John Indrisano had a role in “It Happened At The World's Fair”.
While Howard McNear (best known as Floyd the barber on television's “The Andy Griffith Show”) was in “Blue Hawaii” and “Follow That Dream”.
Linda Rand was in “Roustabout” and “Girls! Girls! Girls!”.
David Renard was in “Change of Habit”.
Linda Rivera was in “Loving You”.
Mary Treen had roles in “Girls! Girls! Girls!” and “Paradise Hawaiian Style”.
Daniel L. Fapp, cinematographer for “Fun in Acapulco”, went on to work with Elvis on “Spinout” and “Double Trouble”. He was nominated six times for an Academy Award, winning one for “West Side Story”.
Film editor Stanely E. Johnson also worked on “Girls! Girls! Girls!”.
Art director Hal Pereira also worked on the Elvis films “Loving You”, “King Creole”, “G.I. Blues”, “Blue Hawaii”, “Girls! Girls! Girls!”, “Roustabout”, “Paradise, Hawaiian Style”, and “Easy Come, Easy Go”. He was nominated twenty-three times for an Academy Award, winning in 1956 for “The Rose Tattoo”.
Art director Walter H. Tyler, who teamed with Hal Pereira on all the same Elvis movies except “King Creole” and “Loving You”, was nominated nine times for an Academy Award, winning in 1951 for “Samson and Delilah”.
Robert R. Benton was set decorator for “Fun in Acapulco” as well as the Elvis films “The Trouble with Girls”, “Easy Come, Easy Go”, “Paradise, Hawaiian Style” and “Roustabout”. He was nominated four times for an Academy Award.
Sam Comer, teamed with Benton as a set decorator on “Fun in Acapulco”. He worked as set decorator on the Elvis films “Paradise, Hawaiian Style”, “Roustabout”, “Girls! Girls! Girls!”, “Blue Hawaii”, “G.I. Blues” and “King Creole”. His accolades include twenty-six Academy Award nominations. He won in 1956 for “The Rose Tattoo”, in 1951 for both “Sunset Boulevard” and “Samson and Delilah”, and in 1946 for “Frenchman's Creek”.
Nellie Manley styled Elvis' hair in “Fun In Acapulco” as well as “King Creole”, “G.I. Blues”, “Blue Hawaii”, “Girls! Girls! Girls!”, “Roustabout”, “Tickle Me”, “Paradise Hawaiian Style”, and “Easy Come, Easy Go”.
Wally Westmore was the makeup supervisor for the Elvis films “Loving You”, “King Creole”, “G.I. Blues”, “Blue Hawaii”, “Girls! Girls! Girls!”, “Fun In Acapulco”, “Roustabout”, “Paradise, Hawaiian Style” and “Easy Come, Easy Go”.
Eight-time Academy Award winner Edith Head was costume designer for “Fun in Acapulco” as well as the Elvis films “Loving You”, “King Creole”, “G.I. Blues”, “Blue Hawaii”, “Girls! Girls! Girls!”, “Roustabout”, “Paradise Hawaiian Style” and “Easy Come, Easy Go”. She was nominated thirty-four times for an Academy Award. She won in 1950 for “The Heiress”, in 1951 for both “Samson and Delilah” and “All About Eve”, in 1952 for “A Place in The Sun”, in 1954 for “Roman Holiday”, in 1955 for “Sabrina”, in 1961 for “The Facts of Life” and in 1974 for “The Sting”