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Elvis Presley Movies

Harum Scarum

Elvis in Harum Scarum
Elvis Presley as Johnny Tyronne in
Harum Scarum

Another "quickie" 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. He opens in Las Vegas with a Middle Eastern dancing troupe, complete with exotic harem girls.

Behind the Scenes of Harum Scarum

With a shooting schedule of only 18 days, Harum Scarum was a no-frills production with little time or money to spend on props, costumes, or set design. Little if anything was actually purchased or designed for the film, a not uncommon practice for low-budget productions.

The temple set had originally been built in 1925 for a Cecil B. DeMille silent feature called King of Kings. The costumes worn by the extras in Harum Scarum had been used in the 1944 version of Kismet and then retailored for the 1955 musical remake. Even the dagger carried by Elvis had been used in an earlier adventure film, Lady of the Tropics. Little effort was invested in the script, and the plot was thrown together following the same Presley formula. How bad was it? The Colonel suggested adding a talking camel to the storyline, which was seriously considered for a time before it was mercifully dropped.

Cast of Harum Scarum
Johnny Tyronne
Elvis Presley
Princess Shalimar
Mary Ann Mobley
Fran Jeffries
Princess Dragna
Michael Ansara
Jay Novello
King Toranshah
Philip Reed
Theo Marcuse
Billy Barty
Dick Harvey
Jack Costanza
Captain Herat
Larry Chance
Barbara Werle
Brenda Benet
Gail Gilmore
Wilda Taylor
Vicki Malkin
Ryck Rydon
Scarred Bedouin
Richard Reeves
Joey Russo
Red West

Songs Featured in Harum Scarum

  • Harem Holiday
  • My Desert Serenade
  • Go East, Young Man
  • Mirage
  • Kismet
  • Shake That Tambourine
  • Hey, Little Girl
  • Golden Coins
  • So Close, Yet So Far (from Paradise)

Credits for Harum Scarum

  • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
  • Produced by Sam Katzman
  • Directed by Gene Nelson
  • Screenplay by Gerald Drayson Adams
  • Photographed in Metrocolor by Fred H. Jackman
  • Music by Fred Karger
  • Vocal accompaniment by The Jordanaires
  • Released November 24, 1965

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