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It Happened at the World's Fair

It Happened at the World's Fair
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Norman Taurog
Produced by Ted Richmond
Written by
Starring Kam Tong
Music by Leith Stevens
Cinematography Joseph Ruttenberg
Edited by Fredric Steinkamp
Don Guidice (uncredited)
Ted Richmond Productions
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (1963, original) Warner Bros. (2007, DVD)
Release dates
  • April 3, 1963 (1963-04-03) (USA)
Running time
105 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $2,500,000 (US/ Canada)[1]

It Happened at the World's Fair is a 1963 American musical film starring Elvis Presley as a cropdusting pilot. It was filmed in Seattle, Washington, site of the Century 21 Exposition, the 1962 World's Fair. The governor of Washington at the time, Albert Rosellini, suggested the setting to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer executives. The film made $2.25 million at the box office.[2]


Pilot Mike Edwards finds himself in a dilemma, his partner and friend Danny, gambles away the money Mike had set aside to pay their debts. Since they lost their money and a $1,200 debt, the local sheriff takes possession of their plane, Bessie, a cropduster. If they cannot come up with the money in twelve days, Bessie will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Mike and Danny become reluctant hitchhikers, looking for a lift to anywhere. They are picked up by apple farmer Walter Ling and his niece Sue-Lin. They end up in Seattle, Washington, location of the 1962 World's Fair. When the uncle is called away on business, Danny persuades Mike to take Sue-Lin to the World's Fair. It is during a visit to the doctor that Mike falls for Diane Warren, an attractive but stubborn nurse who resists Mike's advances. He gives a quarter to a boy who kicks him in the shin, so that he can be treated by her. Mike also courts Dorothy Johnson.

Complications then arise. Walter suddenly disappears, leaving Mike with Sue-Lin. Diane discovers what has happened and wants to inform the Welfare Board about it. There is a mysterious nightfall plane delivery for Mike's and Danny's friend Vince.


  • Elvis Presley as Mike Edwards, cropduster pilot
  • Joan O'Brien as Diane Warren, World's Fair nurse and eventual love interest of Edwards
  • Gary Lockwood as Danny Burke, Mike's gambling-addicted business partner
  • Vicky Tiu as Sue-Lin, a young girl befriended by Mike
  • Yvonne Craig as Dorothy Johnson, a love interest of Mike's
  • H. M. Wynant as Vince Bradley, Danny's crooked associate
  • Kam Tong as Walter Ling, Sue-Lin's uncle
  • Edith Atwater as Miss Steuben
  • Guy Raymond as Barney Thatcher
  • Dorothy Green as Miss Ettinger
  • Red West as Fred (uncredited)
  • Joe Esposito as Carnival Man (uncredited)
  • Kurt Russell as Boy Kicking Mike


The Seattle Center, including the Seattle Center Monorail and the Space Needle, serve as backdrops for several scenes in the film. Security officers pursue Presley and the girl through the fountains at what is now the Pacific Science Center. The hitchhiking scene with Elvis and Gary Lockwood was filmed near Camarillo, California, as were some of the flying scenes. The entire hitchhiking scene to the point where they are both picked up by Kam Tong and Vicky Tiu Cayetano in the truck is easily recognizable as 5th Street near Pleasant Valley Road on the South side of Camarillo.[3] While The Elvis Encyclopedia believes that the Wilburton Trestle was shown in the movie, further evidence points to a different location.[4] It is actually a trestle over the White River between Enumclaw and Buckley, now demolished. The view in the movie was taken at the intersection of Mud Mountain Road and Highway 410, looking southeasterly.[5] You can see Mount Rainier in the background, which you can't see at this angle from the Wilburton Trestle. The Wilburton Trestle is actually bigger than the White River Trestle, at six sections high. The trestle pictured in the movie is only four sections high at the road crossing.[6]


Home media

The film was released to DVD by Warner Home Video on August 7, 2007 as a Region 1 Widescreen DVD.


  • It Happened at the World's Fair marked American actor Kurt Russell's feature film debut.
  • Vicky Tiu, sister of entertainer Ginny Tiu, later grew up to be the first lady of Hawaii when she married Governor Benjamin J. Cayetano.


  1. ^ "Top Rental Features of 1963", Variety, 8 January 1964 p. 71. Please note figures are rentals as opposed to total gross.
  2. ^ Adam Victor. The Elvis Encyclopedia. Overlook, 2008.
  3. ^ Victor 2008.
  4. ^ Key to the City's profile of Buckley The history blurb on this page was written before the trestle was demolished.
  5. ^ Google Street View of Mud Mountain Road and Highway 410 You can still see the bend in the road and a guard rail in the same place as in the movie
  6. ^ White River Journal, January 2002 White River History Museum. Includes a photo of the trestle, but not the part shown in the movie


  • Guralnick, Peter, and Ernst Jorgensen (1999). Elvis Day by Day: The Definitive Record of His Life and Music. Ballantine. ISBN 0-345-42089-6.
  • Kirchberg, Connie, and Marc Hendrickx (1999). Elvis Presley, Richard Nixon, and the American Dream. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company. ISBN 0-7864-0716-6.
  • Lisanti, Tom (2000). Fantasy Femmes of 60's Cinema: Interviews with 20 Actresses from Biker, Beach, and Elvis Movies. McFarland and Company. ISBN 0-7864-0868-5.
  • Marcus, Greil (1980). "Rock Films," The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, second edition. Random House. ISBN 0-394-73938-8.
  • Ponce de Leon, Charles L. (2007). Fortunate Son: The Life of Elvis Presley. Macmillan. ISBN 0-8090-1641-9.
  • Presley, Priscilla (1985). Elvis and Me. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN 0-399-12984-7.
  • Thomson, David (1998). A Biographical Dictionary of Film (3d ed.). Knopf. ISBN 0-679-75564-0.
  • Victor, Adam (2008). The Elvis Encyclopedia. Overlook Duckworth. ISBN 1-58567-598-9

External links

DVD reviews