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Roustabout (film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Rich
Produced by Hal B. Wallis
Screenplay by
  • Anthony Lawrence
  • Allan Weiss
Story by Allan Weiss
Music by Joseph J. Lilley
Cinematography Lucien Ballard
Edited by
Hal Wallis Productions
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • November 11, 1964 (1964-11-11) (USA)
Running time
101 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $3,300,000 (US/ Canada rentals)[1]

Roustabout is a 1964 American musical feature film starring Elvis Presley as a singer who takes a job working with a struggling carnival. The film was produced by Hal Wallis and directed by John Rich from a screenplay by Anthony Lawrence and Allan Weiss. The screenplay was nominated for a Writers Guild of America award for best written American musical although Roustabout received a lukewarm review in Variety.[2] The film's soundtrack album was one of Elvis Presley's most successful, reaching no. 1 on the Billboard Album Chart.[3]


Musician Charlie Rogers (Elvis Presley) is fired from a gig at a teahouse run by Lou (Jack Albertson) after brawling with several college students in the parking lot. After a night in jail, Charlie hits the road on his Honda 305 Superhawk motorcycle. He spots Cathy Lean (Joan Freeman) driving with her father Joe (Leif Erickson) and their employer, Maggie Morgan (Barbara Stanwyck). When Charlie tries to become friendly with Cathy, Joe forces him off the road and the bike is wrecked after crashing into a wooden fence.

Maggie offers him a place to stay and a job with her struggling traveling carnival while the bike is being repaired. Charlie becomes a "carnie", a roustabout. Maggie recognizes his musical talents and promotes him to feature attraction. His act soon draws large crowds. Off stage, Charlie romances Cathy, which creates animosity with Joe. After the two men repeatedly clash and Charlie is accused of holding back a customer's lost wallet that Joe was accused of stealing, Charlie leaves to star in the much better financed show of rival carnival producer Harry Carver (Pat Buttram).

Once again, he is a great success. However, when Charlie learns that Maggie is facing bankruptcy, he returns to her carnival. In the musical finale, he is happily reunited with Cathy.


Uncredited actors listed alphabetically:

Musical numbers

See also Roustabout (album)

All tunes in the film were sung by Presley.


Roustabout reached #8 nationally at the box office in 1964 based on the Variety survey. The film finished as #28 on the year-end list of the top-grossing movies of 1964 and earned $3 million at the box office.

While the New York Times declined to review the film, Variety was lukewarn, faulting mainly the script, but noted the film would likely be a box-office hit based upon its star names, songs, and Technicolor, Techniscope qualities.

Awards and honors

The film's screenwriters, Anthony Lawrence and Allan Weiss, were nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Musical. The film generated a best-selling soundtrack album that went #1 on the Billboard charts. The soundtrack album would be Presley's final #1 soundtrack and last #1 album until 1969's From Elvis in Memphis, which topped the charts in the U.K.


  1. ^ This figure consists of anticipated rentals accruing distributors in North America. See "Big Rental Pictures of 1965", Variety, 5 January 1966 p 6
  2. ^ Adam Victor. The Elvis Encyclopedia. Overlook, 2008.
  3. ^ Billboard Magazine.

External links

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