The Fastest Guitar Alive (1967)

Singing guitar-slinger Roy Orbison (as Johnny Banner) and hunky sidekick Sammy Jackson (as Steve Menlo) battle more Indians than Union soldiers as they work “undercover” for President Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy. When the Civil War ends, a booty of gold they stole from the USA for the CSA makes Mr. Orbison and his pal WANTED men. They are also desired, but for kissing instead of killing, by pretty sisters Maggie Pierce and Joan Freeman (as Flo and Sue Chestnut).

Producer Sam Katzman, who did “Kissin’ Cousins” (1964) and “Harum Scarum” (1965) with Elvis, probably wanted Presley for this picture. After Colonel Parker declined, it might have been offered to Ricky Nelson. Father Ozzie would never agree to a film without complete production control, so that wouldn’t have gone anywhere. So, what about Roy Orbison? He had the same sort of record success, and was owed a shot at movie stardom as part of his manager’s deal with MGM’s record subsidiary.

Orbison received millions from the package, which moved him from Monument to MGM records. The deal turned out to be a disaster, which is reflected in this film. Even the hit records stopped. The best “The Fastest Guitar Alive” song showing was “Pistolero” appearing on the B-side of a minor “Top 100” hit – which turned out to be the last Orbison appearance on the record charts until the 1980s. To make matters worse, Orbison had to deal with some personal tragedies. Roy was better than this.