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Scarecrow on Seattle: IT HAPPENED AT THE WORLDS FAIR

For the past few years, Scarecrow Video has been contributing reviews of movies made in the Pacific Northwest to the Seattle Office of Film + Music's e-newsletter. We're now proud to be able to share these reviews on our site as well.

 

 

 

 

 

It Happened At The World's Fair (1963)
This formulaic Elvis Presley vehicle is probably most enjoyable to non-Elvis fans as a travelogue of the Century 21 Exposition, better known as The Seattle World's Fair. Elvis co-owns a crop-dusting biplane with his pal Danny (Gary Lockwood) and they are based out of the fictional Eastern Washington town of Sherrington. When the plane is shown in the air, it is obvious that they are flying over the San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California. Elvis and Danny's troubles grow and the two pals are soon hitchhiking to Seattle. A farmer with a fruit truck picks them up and they eventually get into some familiar Washington State locations. In one scene they are driving along Highway 161 with Mount Rainier visible in the background, then they turn a corner and the mountain is suddenly in the foreground. Better double-check that road map, Elvis! On the way into Seattle they pass the Wilburton Trestle while Elvis sings a song to Su-Lin (the seven year old niece of the farmer) and, finally, the gang shows up at the World's Fair. Elvis escorts Su-Lin around the Fair and we are treated to all sorts of cool futuristic themed architecture and exhibits (but sadly they never check out the bubbleator). They also go for a twilight ride on the monorail where Elvis "thinks" a song to his little sleeping friend. Elvis doesn't do a very good job of restraining Su-Lin's carnival food consumption but, then again, what idiot would trust Elvis to monitor junk food? Su-Lin gets a tummy ache that leads to a visit to the World's Fair's dispensary where she is treated for her ills and Elvis meets his love interest, a nurse named Diane (Joan O'Brien). Somehow Diane resists his charms but Elvis is determined to spend time with the nurse so he pays a kid five bucks to kick him in the shins, thus sending him back to the dispensary. Ironic casting note: the kid is played by Kurt Russell who would grow up to play Elvis in a TV movie! Elvis and Diane end up on a date and they cut in line to take the elevator to the top of the Space Needle where they have a lengthy dinner capped off by some crooning. The Space Needle restaurant scene was not shot on location and the filmmakers use a fake painted backdrop for the Seattle cityscape. Elvis and Danny eventually tussle with some would-be gangsters leading to a lengthy nighttime chase through the Seattle Center. Everything works out okay and, for the film's finale, Elvis and Diane sing a duet while leading a marching band around for a final glimpse of the 1962 World's Fair. There really isn't any non-World's Fair Seattle footage featured in the movie as Elvis never goes for a stroll through the Pike Place Market, rides a ferry or, more likely, stops by Dick's for some burgers. Still, It Happened At The World's Fair got Hollywood's attention and helped kick off modern filmmaking in the Jet City.
--Spenser Hoyt

 

 

 

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