Elvis' ninth movie was "Follow That Dream". It
was based on Richard Powell's 1957 novel "Pioneer, Go Home", the story of the
Kwimper family, who homesteaded on land along a newly built highway in Florida.
Richard Powell grew up in Philadelphia and retired to Florida. He was a teacher of creative writing at Syracuse University. He also wrote "The Philadelphia", which became a movie starring Paul Newman, as well as writing for a number of telvision series such as "Hogan's Heroes", "M*A*S*H", "Charlie's Angels"and "Quincy".
The screenplay was written by Charles Lederer, whose writing credits include "Ocean's Eleven", and "Mutiny On the Bounty". He was nominated five times for Writers Guild of America awards for his screenplays.
The location shots for "Follow That Dream" took place in July and August of 1961 near Crystal River, Ocala, Inverness, and Tampa Florida. Elvis arrived by chartered bus and stayed at the Port Paradise Hotel in Crystal River. Following behind the bus in Elvis' limo an pulling his new ski boat were his friends/entourage members Alan Fortas and Lamar Fike.
Elvis' manager Colonel Tom Parker arranged for a ceremony and show honoring Elvis at the local Weeki Wachee Springs water show, where the "Elvis Presley Underwater Fan Club" (a temporary name concocted for the regular cast by Parker) performed for an audience of over 3,000. Elvis attended with co-star Anne Helm, his father Vernon, Vernon's wife Dee and her three sons, David, Billy and Ricky. This underwater "mermaid" show began in 1947 and continues today.
"Follow That Dream" opened nationwide on May 23, 1962 and peaked at #5 on the Variety Box Office Survey.
Elvis recorded a song called "A Whistling Tune", which was dropped from this movie but later used in the film "Kid Galahad". Elvis disliked the song "Sound Advice" so much that he requested it be left off the soundtrack EP. It turned up later on the non-movie album "Elvis for Everyone" in 1965.
The film was directed by Gordon Douglas, who began his career as an actor in the early 1930's, but was soon directing the "Our Gang" series of movies for RKO. He also directed such films as "Robin and the 7 Hoods", "Harlow", "Stagecoach", "Tony Rome" and "The Detective".
Arthur O'Connell played Pop Kwimper. The family patriarch believed he was helping the government by taking advantage of their various assistance programs. Mr. O'Connell would play Elvis' father again in the 1964 film "Kissin' Cousins". He was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor in the 1955 film "Picnic" and again in the 1960 film "Anatomy of a Murder".
Anne Helm played Holly Jones, one of the women interested in making Toby forget his math. Ms. Helm, a native of Canada, moved to New York at age 14, studying ballet and beginning to model. Eventually, she moved to California and worked in numerous TV series and in movies such as "Desire In the Dust", "The Magic Sword" and "The Interns". She and Elvis dated during the filming of "Follow That Dream". During the Elvis Presley Birthday Celebration 2002, she was a special guest at the Elvis Fan Club Presidents' Luncheon and shared her memories of their time together. That year's luncheon was themed around the 40th anniversary of the film.
Also visiting Graceland in January 2002 and appearing as prez lunch guests were the twins Gavin and Robin Koon, who played twins Eddy and Teddy Bascombe in the movie. They shared with the fans their memories of making this movie from the viewpoint of two nine-year-old boys. They remembered being in awe of the movie grips and all their muscles and the interesting equipment they moved in and around the set. They also recounted the many movie takes that were required to get the famous candy bar scenes filmed. The twins were always sharing a single candy bar and often one twin got a little more than the other in attempting to break the bar evenly. Just for old times' sake the Graceland staff provided all attending with their own souvenir candy bar.
Joanna Moore played Alisha Claypoole, the state welfare supervisor who became vindictive when Toby remembered his math and rejected her. Ms. Moore married and divorced actor Ryan O'Neal, with whom she had two children - Oscar winning daughter Tatum O'Neal and son Griffin O'Neal. Moore had a long career with roles in TV series and movies. Some of the movies she worked in were, "Ride A Crooked Trail", "The Last Angry Man", "Walk On the Wild Side" and "Nevada Smith". A recurring role for her on television was Andy Taylor's girlfriend Peg on "The Andy Griffith Show".
Roland Winters played the judge. You might remember his playing Elvis' father in the film "Blue Hawaii".
Howard McNear played George the bank loan officer. He was in two other Elvis movies. He played Elvis' boss at the tourist service office in "Blue Hawaii" and he played Dr. Stevers in "Fun In Acapulco". He is best known for his role as Floyd the barber on the television series "The Andy Griffith Show".
Veteran character actor Herbert Rudley played Mr. Endicott, the bank president who took the Kwimper family under his wing and helped them start their business.
Several other veteran character actors portrayed the gangsters in this film. Carmine was played by Jack Kruschen, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his supporting role in the 1960 film "The Apartment". Simon Oakland, who played Nick, began in show business as a concert violinist, but he had a long career playing tough guys in films such "West Side Story", "Psycho" and "Bullitt".
Producer David Weisbart also produced the Elvis movies "Love Me Tender", "Flaming Star" and "Kid Galahad".
Leo Tover, the cinematographer, also worked on the Elvis film "Love Me Tender". Tover was nominated twice for the Academy Award for his work in films.
The executive producer was Walter Mirisch, who received an Academy Award for the 1968 film "In The Heat of the Night". He received the Golden Globe Awards' Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1977. In 1978, he received the Academy's Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
Musical scoring was done by seven-time Academy Award nominee Hans J. Salter.
The film was edited by William B. Murphy, who received an Academy Award nomination in 1967 for his work on "Fantastic Voyage".
The art director was Malcolm C. Bert, who was nominated twice for an Academy Award.
The makeup artist was Daniel C. Striepeke, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his work in the 1994 film "Forrest
Gump" and for his work in the 1998 film "Saving Private Ryan". He was nominated for a 1976 Emmy Award for television's "Beauty and The Beast". He won an award from the Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild for the 2001 film "Castaway" and was nominated again this year for the film "The Road To Perdition".
In "Follow That Dream", as with many of his films, Elvis worked with some of the best talent in the movie business.