55 Years Ago Today…
It Happened at the World’s Fair opened starring Elvis Presley, Joan O’Brien, Gary Lockwood, and Yvonne Craig. This is a glossy musical comedy shot on location at the Seattle World’s Fair. Presley played Mike Edwards a pilot-for-hire who, after jilting a luscious small town girl (Craig) whose father chases him off with a shotgun, heads to the Fair with his gambling-loving partner Danny Edwards (Lockwood) to get work so they can earn enough money to reclaim their airplane that has been repossessed. There Mike becomes involved with a precocious seven-year-old Chinese girl Sue-Lin (Vicky Tiu) left in the boys’ care by her farmer father and a pretty nurse named Diane Warren (O’Brien) who he’d rather spend time with though she plays hard to get.
Joan O’Brien recalled working with the King in my book Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema:
“The first day of filming was a madhouse. When I arrived at the World’s Fair, I saw Elvis whom I had never met before over the heads of all these people. You talk about crowds! It was unbelievable. People everywhere! After we finished the first morning’s sequences they had an electric car for Elvis and me to use. They had to set up barricades and use hundreds of policemen to hold back the crowds just to get us out of there. We then went for lunch to some building that had this huge empty exhibition hall. They dropped us off, locked the door, and posted more policemen outside.”
Though Elvis did serenade Joan throughout the film, she found these scenes to be “tedious and hard because he had all the action and I felt awkward. It was very difficult for me—I don’t know about other actresses—to be aware of the camera, pay attention to him, and try to look all dreamy-eyed and in love. I felt like I had egg on my face most of the time.”