In Fun in Acapulco, Elvis Presley stars as Mike Windgren, another version of his musical comedy persona: a former circus performer trying to escape his past. Mike's circus career ended when he caused his partner to be seriously injured during their trapeze act. Traumatized by the accident, Mike has developed a fear of heights. At the beginning of the film, he finds himself in Acapulco, where he hires on as lifeguard at a resort hotel.
In the evenings, he entertains the guests by singing.
Mike becomes involved with two exotic women -- hotel social director Marguerita Dauphin, played by Ursula Andress, and lady bullfighter Dolores Gomez, played by Elsa Cardenas. Mike soon finds himself in competition with another hotel lifeguard, who every night performs a death-defying jump off the ocean cliffs near the hotel. This rival uncovers Mike's past and tricks him into jumping off the cliffs. Ultimately, Mike's decision to jump helps him overcome his fears. He decides to spend his life with Marguerita.
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.
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'.
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.)
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'.
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'.
Above and below; Elvis Presley and Ursula Andress on the set of 'Fun in Acapulco', Paramount, 1963
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'.
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'.
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'.
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'.
'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'.
Behind the Scenes of Fun in Acapulco
In much of the publicity generated during Elvis's Hollywood career, the press noted that the singer performed many of his own stunts. In Fun in Acapulco, Elvis chose to participate in a few stunts that the producers considered risky. In the opening scene, Elvis' character is performing as an aerialist in a circus. The scene called for the character to swing from a high trapeze without a net, 20 feet above the circus floor, and accidentally miss his partner, who plummets to the floor. Every precaution was taken to provide safeguards for Elvis out of camera range, but producer Hal Wallis was still nervous because his star insisted on doing the stunt himself.
As a precaution, the studio scheduled the stunt to be performed during the last days of production, when all of Elvis' other scenes had already been filmed. Elvis, who was in top physical condition, performed the stunt without incident. One stunt that Elvis did not do was the thrilling 136-foot dive off the cliffs at La Quebrada.
Recorded at: Radio Recorders Studios, 7000, Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood. January 1963
Musicians: Elvis Presley (vocals), Scotty Moore, Tiny Timbrell, Barney Kessel (guitars), Ray Siegel (bass), D.J. Fontana, Hal Blaine (drums), Emile Radocchia (percussion), Dudley Brookes (piano), Anthony Terran, Rudolph Loera (trumpets), the Jordinaires and the Amigos (vocals).
Elvis managed to inject a Spanish feel to his vocals for these soundtrack recordings accompanied by the Amigos. A single 'Bossa Nova Baby' reached number eight in the charts.
Fun in Acapulco Paramount 1963
Directed: Richard Thorpe
Writing Credits: Allan Weiss
Producer: Hal Wallis
Associate Producer: Paul Nathan
Assistant Director: Michael Moore
Hairstyle Supervision: Nellie Manley
Musical numbers staged by: Charles O'Curran
Music scored and conducted by: Joseph J. Lilley
Special photo effects by: Paul.k Lapae
Art Direction: Hal Pereira and Walter Tyle
Technical Advisor: Colonel Tom Parker
Cast Overview: Elvis Presley .... Mike Windgren, Ursula Andress .... Marguerita Dauphin, Elsa Cerdenas .... Dolores Gomez, Paul Lukas .... Maximillian Dauphin, Larry Domasin .... Raoul Almeido, Alejandro Rey .... Moreno, Robert Garricart.... Jose Garcia, Teri Hope .... Janie Harkins