May 23, 1962 “Follow That Dream” opens nationally and gets to #5 on the box office charts. It is warmly reviewed and does fairly well in sales. “Follow That Dream” was one of 33 movies starring Elvis. It was not among the ones that were box-office hits, but critics seemed to agree that Elvis’ comedic acting was excellent.
The plot summary goes something like this:
When the Kwimper family car runs out of gas on a new Florida highway and a state supervisor tries to run them off, Pop Kwimper digs in his heels and decides to do a little homesteading. He and his son Toby (played by Elvis) and their “adopted” children – Holly, Ariadne and the twins – start their own little community along a strip of the roadside. The fishing is good and the living is easy until the mob sets up a gambling operation and the state supervisor sics a sexy social worker on the Kwimpers in an effort to take away Ariadne and the twins.
It’s safe to say that most who remember the filming in Florida – just plain love the movie. The 55 years that have passed doesn’t diminish the memory for those who were a part of it. They describe Elvis as down-to-earth and friendly.
He comfortably chatted with locals and during filming breaks tossed the football around the courthouse lawn with star-struck teens.
The King himself rented a room at the Port Paradise Motel in Crystal River. Krista has reached out to this hotel to see if we can get you an interview and maybe some photos of the location in August.
Here’s some “Follow That Dream” trivia:
- Singer/songwriter Tom Petty, who grew up in Gainesville, has said that he fell in love with rock and roll after meeting Elvis and watching him act and sing during the making of “Follow That Dream.” Petty’s uncle worked as a crew member on the film. Petty was 11 at the time. “I caught the fever that day and I never got rid of it,” Petty said in a 2005 book, “Conversations With Tom Petty.”
- Though a sign in Inglis, about 15 miles north of Crystal River, proclaims part of State Road 40 as the Follow that Dream Parkway in honor of the movie, filming actually was in nearby Yankeetown.
- Did you know that “Here Come the Kwimpers” was almost the title of Elvis’ ninth movie, “Follow That Dream”?
- During filming, gambling was illegal in Florida. The gambling equipment needed for filming was brought in by a member of the Chamber of Commerce of a Florida city and a few anonymous gamblers.
- Movie producers were irked by an island offshore in Yankeetown, saying it detracted from the scenery. They wanted a wide open seascape. A plan to blow up the island was scuttled because it would have cost about $30,000.
- The Citrus County Courthouse courtroom scene became significant in the 1990s when the old building was restored, becoming the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum. Photographs of the interior of the courthouse were scarce and contractors didn’t exactly know how the courtroom looked in the old days. So still photographs of the filming were used as a reference to recreate the original look. To this day, the only known visual record of the original courtroom interior is from “Follow That Dream.”
The featured photo for this article is of Elvis in 1961 filming “Follow That Dream” in the Citrus County Courthouse in Inverness, Florida. On Thursday, August 17, 2017 Peter Alden and the Corvairs will be performing a full concert in tribute to Elvis, right in the very same courtroom!! The courthouse has historic landmark status now, and a Summer Concert Series helps to keep it beautiful and maintained. Tickets are $25, doors open at 6pm. Come enjoy some extra special treats along with a cash bar. For more information, please call 352-341-6428
The Citrus County Historical Society, Inc.
One Courthouse Square
Inverness, FL 34450