Double Trouble

A Look at the Movie "Double Trouble" - Part 1 of 3:

Elvis's twenty-fourth movie was the 1967 MGM film "Double Trouble."  Based on a novel by Mark Brandel, the working title was "You're Killing Me" and the idea was to give the movie the same feel as that of the zany comedic Beatles films  "Hard Days Night" and "Help."   Although the movie is set in Europe, it was filmed on the MGM back lot in Hollywood.

Elvis reported to MGM on June 27, 1966 for a music meeting and wardrobe fittings.  The next night Elvis, reluctant to record the lackluster material provided for him,  was late for his recording session at Radio Recorders.  As a result MGM moved the recording session to their own cavernous soundstage.  As principal Elvis researcher/compilation producer for BMG, Ernst Jorgensen, put it, "The soundstage had all the presence of a giant tin can."   Sloppy engineering and sound further disgusted Elvis.  Says Jorgensen, "Being forced to record 'Old MacDonald' was only the final indignity, and Elvis left, forcing the movie company to use an incomplete, seventh take as the master."  The session ended with Elvis recording the very short (1 min. 20 sec.) song with the very long title
"Long Legged Girl (With the Short Dress On)."

On a brighter note, Elvis got to meet Jackie Wilson, a singer whom he had long admired, who was performing near by.  Jackie Wilson also visited Elvis on the set of this movie.  He also met James Brown and Elvis formed a friendship with both performers that lasted the rest of his life.  In 1975 it was Elvis who helped to pay the medical costs when Jackie Wilson suffered a stroke.  And James Brown would be one of the few celebrities to attend Elvis's wake in 1977.

This was the only movie made by Elvis's  leading lady, Annette Day, who played Jill Conway in "Double Trouble."  She was a young girl whom producer Judd Bernard saw working in her parents' antique shop in London.  He thought that she would be right for the part in the movie despite her not having any previous acting experience.  Several of her natural expressions such as "Super!" and "biccies" (cookies) were written into the script.  During filming Elvis surprised the 18-year-old, who had yet to learn to drive, with a white Mustang convertible.  Unable to take the gift back home to Britain, Ms. Day left it in the U.S. in her brother's care when she returned to England, where she still lives.  During filming Elvis's cousin Billy Smith served as Ms. Day's stand-in.

John Williams played Jill Conway's uncled, Gerald Waverly.  Williams was best known for his role on stage and screen in "Dial M For Murder." 

Yvonne Romain played Waverly's accomplice in crime, Claire Dunham.  Ms. Romain is the wife of songwriter Leslie Bricusse.  Her first American film was "The Swinger" with Ann-Margret.

In "Double Trouble" Chips Rafferty and Norman Rossington play two bumbling diamond smugglers. 

Rafferty, an Australian actor, played Archie Brown in this movie and  can also be seen in films such as "The Sundowners",  "The Wackiest Ship In The Army" and "Mutiny on the Bounty." 

Rossington played Arthur Babcock.  This English actor was able to claim the unique distinction of having worked in films with both Elvis and the Beatles as he also had the role of road manager Norm in the Beatles film  "A Hard Days Night."  As a high school dropout he wandered through various occupations before deciding to pursue an acting career that specialized in slapstick comedy.  However, he also had roles in such epics as "The Longest Day" and "Lawrence of Arabia."  Later in his career he was a favorite stage actor in London musical productions such as "My Fair Lady," "Guys and Dolls" and "Beauty and The Beast."  Cancer claimed his life in 1999 at the age of 70.

Bandmates of Guy Lambert (Elvis) sported Beatles style haircuts.  One of them, Morley, was played by Michael Murphy, a former high school English and drama teacher.  Murphy became good friends with Woody Allen, who subsequently cast him to play his best friend in the film  "Manhattan."  His long association with director Robert Altman has resulted in roles in many films and TV productions including "Brewster McCloud," "M*A*S*H," "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" and "Nashville," among others.  He co-starred with his wife, actress Wendy Crewson, in the TV show "Hard Copy" and has had roles in such TV series as "Law & Order," "Judging Amy" and "LAX."

John Anderson was the sinister ever lurking "Iceman" in "Double Trouble."  His acting career has included roles in many films such as "To Catch A Thief," "Don't Go Near The Water," "My Fair Lady," "Strange Bedfellows," "Hellfighters," "The Molly Maguires," "Blazing Saddles," "The Dutchess and The Dirtwater Fox" and "Young Guns II."

Marilyn and Melody Heymer were the twin cigarette girls. 

The film was choreographed by Alex Romero who had also choreographed the famous dance scene in Elvis's 1957 film "Jailhouse Rock."

Many of the supporting cast for "Double Trouble" were veteran European character actors. 

One such actor was Austrian born Leon Askin, who played Inspector De Groote.  Often cast as the "funny villain," he has worked with such actors as Richard Burton, James Cagney and Doris Day.  And although he has had a long career on stage, in film and on TV, his best remembered work might be that of German General Burkhalter in the TV series "Hogan's Heroes," who was always threatening to send the character of Colonel Klink to the eastern front.

The Wiere Brothers - Harry, Herbert and Sylvester - played the eccentric detectives.  In 1922 when the youngest of them, Sylvester was only 12 years old, they formed the comedy group The Wiere Brothers and appeared on stage.  They came to America in the mid-1930s and were headliners on the theater and nightclub circuit with their unique comedy routines.  They were very talented and could sing, dance, play several instruments and perform acrobatics.  Their musical talents can be seen in the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby film "Road to Rio."  In 1960 they starred in the TV series "Oh, Those Bells" directed by former Three Stooges director Jules White.  Their routines could be seen on such variety shows as Rowan and Martin's "Laugh In."  When Sylvester died unexpectedly in 1970, Harry and Herbert went into semi-retirement.  Harry died in 1991 and Herbert in 1999.

Principal filming for "Double Trouble" began on July 11, 1966 and was finished by August 30, 1966.  Elvis almost immediately went into production for the film "Easy Come, Easy Go," which would be finished and released in March of 1967, just weeks before "Double Trouble" opened on April 5, 1967.  "Double Trouble" hit #58 on "Variety" magazine's popularity list of films for 1967.