Elvis Presley: The Movies - Appreciation Thread

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Bink, Aug 22, 2021.

  1. Bink

    Bink Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I thought it would be a good idea to start a thread to discuss Elvis Presley's movies.

    My plan is each week to post details of each movie in chronological order which I hope will lead to a discussion of the movie and soundtrack.

    I guess Elvis' movies are considered the most maligned period of his career, not least by the man himself and subsequently by his estate. However I tend to think they can't all be dismissed outright.

    I think a handful of the movies are some of his most significant work, others can be appreciated as a bit of fun and maybe some others shouldn't have been made at all.....

    Personally there are a handful of movies that I have seen, but others that I haven't seen. However I recently decided to buy a couple of boxsets of dvds to expand my collection. So hopefully I can give some initial thoughts as I get round to watching each one.
  2. Bink

    Bink Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Love Me Tender

    Year of release: 1956
    Studio: 20th Century Fox
    Director: Robert E Webb

    Believing his brother Vance died in the Civil War, Clint Reno (Elvis) marries Vance's beloved, only to have his brother return home alive.


  3. KDubATX

    KDubATX A Darby Man Never Says When

    Right on. I know Amazon had several of the movies up on Prime for awhile before I let my subscription expire. I watched a handful, but they were all later from the post army phase.
    Love Me Tender is not one that I’ve watched though. Checking online it looks like this is not one that is up on one of the standard movie streaming sites right now.
    Bink likes this.
  4. Bink

    Bink Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I am actually watching Love Me Tender as I write this and I think is the first time I have watched it, although my father had it on VHS when I was growing up.

    I bought it this week as part of the 75th Birthday Collection which includes 7 movies.

    I am actually impressed with how well restored it is. The picture looks pristine and is in widescreen.
  5. Bink

    Bink Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I enjoyed Love Me Tender. You can see at the start of his film career how he was trying to emulate the success of James Dean and Marlon Brando.

    This is mostly a dramatic movie as opposed to a musical and the few musical performances seem to be a natural part of the story, such as this one:

    minkahed, Uuan, oldsurferdude and 3 others like this.
  6. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident

    Brookings, Oregon
    I think you are spot on here. I had to completely re-evaluate Elvis's movie career a few years ago, but it started with a review of his soundtracks on @mark winstanley's fantastic Elvis album threads of the 1950's, 1960's, 1970's and finishing with his posthumous releases. I grew up with some of Elvis's movies in the 1960's, but I did not become a huge fan of Elvis's music until the 1970's.

    I think this is a splendid idea for a thread. I am not sure anybody has ever gone through Elvis's entire movie career chronologically on this forum. By sheer happenstance, my lady and I decided to go on an Elvis marathon during last year's Covid shutdown, and we watched every single Elvis movie except for Harum Scarum (I just could not put her through that one in good conscious, Lol). Ironically, I think the soundtrack for Harum Scarum is quite underrated, but I will get into those details later when we get to the movie.

    I got as many Elvis movies on Blu-ray that I could find, and Love Me Tender was one of them, with a very nice transfer. Most of Elvis's movies actually look great on film, even on DVD, but I will talk more about that later as we get to the movies filmed in color. My father was a director in the early days of live television, so I would like to think I have some additional insights on these matters that some might find interesting.

    Love Me Tender shows a very raw and very young Elvis Presley showing a lot of potential as an actor, just based on natural talent and work ethic. It was said that when Elvis first came to the movie set he not only had all his own lines memorized down pat, but all his fellow actors parts as well, Lol. It is also pretty evident that Elvis was completely smitten with his co-star, Debra Paget, as she could almost be a twin of his future wife, Priscilla Presley. The very fine actor Richard Egan really does a fantastic job in the lead role, which I think benefited Elvis's performance greatly. Elvis's movie career is off to a very fine start.
  7. Bink

    Bink Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Fantastic - I will be looking forward to your insights as we go through them!

    Harem Scarem - I am trying to remember if I have actually seen this one! I have certainly been aware that it's not amongst the top drawer movies so we'll see.
    Dave112 and RSteven like this.
  8. Madlove

    Madlove Hare Hunter Field

    Upstate NY
    It’s always amazed me that just two years before Love Me Tender, he was a teenager, an electrician apprentice and was going to marry his girlfriend. But he apparently had big, powerful dreams simmering, and the balls to totally pull of a credible acting debut in a Hollywood film. This guy wasn’t in high school plays, or bands or clubs etc.
    minkahed, Ted Mooney, Dave112 and 6 others like this.
  9. Madlove

    Madlove Hare Hunter Field

    Upstate NY
    It’s also interesting that the song Love Me Tender was such a risky move. It’s just him and an acoustic basically. Why didn’t he record it in the high pitch voice of the Sun ballads?
  10. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product

    Love Me Tender is a really good example of a movie from this era.

    One thing I have found about Elvis movies, that is really interesting as a big fan of his music, the less music the better the movie generally is..... for me at least... that doesn't mean the the movies with songs are no good or anything, but it is a context issue... Later it just became a case of the movie and the album promoting each other, and both the songs and the scripts deteriorated to some degree.

    Love Me Tender was a good start. It didn't have Elvis as the main character, and it gave him a chance to work in an ensemble setting and he does a very good job.
    If they had groomed him into the industry in this manner, I think the results would be very different, but then we may not have had some of the great music we got, so I'm not complaining.

    We get a bit of a western theme, some drama, and action, and it works as a good movie. Elvis did very well in this movie.
    The movie studios saw the massive response to Elvis just being in the movie, and they changed tack, and Elvis became the billboard star, and they introduced more songs to more movies.
    minkahed, Uuan, oldsurferdude and 5 others like this.
  11. PacificOceanBlue

    PacificOceanBlue Senior Member

    The Southwest
    Should be an interesting thread. It is hard to defend a lot of the films, especially as the 1960's progressed, but from a purely entertainment standpoint, some of them are still enjoyable to an extent. Just last week during an Elvis marathon, I found myself sitting through the second half of Clambake -- I had to switch the channel a few times when the musical sequences were too much to handle, but I still made it through to its conclusion, which was a small achievement.
  12. Bink

    Bink Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I probably should have listed the songs featured in Love Me Tender:

    Love Me Tender
    Let Me
    We're Gonna Move
    Poor Boy

    The end titles also features a brief alternate version of Love Me Tender:

  13. KDubATX

    KDubATX A Darby Man Never Says When

    Watching it for the first time now.

  14. mBen989

    mBen989 Senior Member

    Scranton, PA
    Snapple fact; Elvis' first stereo session was recording the songs for Love Me Tender. Too bad RCA initally only received acetates.
    kt66brooklyn and Shawn like this.
  15. threeheadedmonkey

    threeheadedmonkey Forum Resident

    The Netherlands
    I don't mean to derail this discussion, but I've always liked Flaming Star. I think that's a genuinely good film.

    Carry on.
    minkahed, Uuan and oldsurferdude like this.
  16. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident

    Brookings, Oregon
    I agree. It is interesting fact that whenever they put Elvis with a fine director (In the case of Flaming Star, it was the very talented Don Siegel), they usually got a fine effort from Elvis and a very good movie as a result.
  17. rkt88

    rkt88 The unknown soldier

    malibu ca
    too funny, and i empathize. but the kitsch value alone in these troubled times make many of these films priceless. i once ( twice? ) had a girl that was in clambake. i think i'll stick to the soundtrack for that one lol

    add: the soundtracks brought us much more than "kitsch value". there are many of those songs i still like a LOT ha
    minkahed, Ken K, Shawn and 3 others like this.
  18. Hooperfan

    Hooperfan Your friendly neighborhood candy store owner

    New York
    Well, it's a must to see those Florida mountains!
  19. Gregorio

    Gregorio Forum Resident

    In the last few days...for some reason...i was thinking of getting all Elvis movies...in chronological order...i'm very aware they're all for free in you tube and other sites...but i'm a collectionist and my mother language is spanish, so i want to hear them in english but having the subtitles...in short, i want quality copies of all 31 movies...then i see this thread posted just yesterday...so it seems that people in different latitudes sometimes for some reason are thinking the same...glad this thread popped up on these days...
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2021
  20. Uncle Meat

    Uncle Meat Forum Resident

    Houston, Tx, US
    Jailhouse Rock shows up in a beautiful print on TCM from time to time.
    I definitely prefer the early movies, GI Blues has some good tunes (Doing the Best I Can), but soon after just become repetitive and the songs get worse and worse (with MAYBE the exception of Speedway).
    I feel sorry for the guy. He MUST have know how bad they were.

    There is a big drop from Milkcow Blues Boogie to Do the Clam....
    Ted Mooney, Uuan, Alan G. and 2 others like this.
  21. Bink

    Bink Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I read Peter Guralnik's biographies of Elvis a few years ago. Last Train to Memphis traced his life until the end of the 50's and Careless Love picks up the story until the end of his life.

    I was very impressed with those biographies and assuming they are accurate, they suggest that Elvis was very aware of the quality of the movies! I remember the sense of frustration as I was reading them that Elvis went against his own instincts and agreed to sign another contract to make more movies!

    But still, I am excited to go through the movies again as well as watch those I haven't seen and follow people's thoughts in this thread.
  22. Paul Sofronoff

    Paul Sofronoff The Last Earbender

    Lots of fond memories as a young kid watching Elvis movies on a Sunday afternoon - most aren’t great, but I have a soft spot for a few of them. In particular, Roustabout, Viva and Clambake. To me Elvis was the coolest man on the planet! Will enjoy going through these.
    Uncle Meat, Ted Mooney, Shawn and 5 others like this.
  23. Bink

    Bink Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Loving You

    Year of release: 1957
    Studio: Paramount
    Director: Hal Kantor

    Deke Rivers (Elvis), a deliver driver with a talent for performing, is discovered by a music publicist and a Country and Western singer who want to promote him.

    Loving You
    Got a lot of livin' to do
    Teddy Bear
    Hot Dog
    Lonesome Cowboy
    Mean Woman Blues


  24. PacificOceanBlue

    PacificOceanBlue Senior Member

    The Southwest
    He did, but he had no control over what was happening as the 1960's progressed. His manager locked Elvis into long term contracts for a series of movies years in advance, and the studios/producers wanted and expected a certain type of product. By the end of the decade, the formula was exhausted, and even if theoretically Tom Parker had wanted to secure a contract for another series of b-level musical comedies, there were no longer any buyers lining up to make offers. The films became soul-crushing affairs, and Elvis became more reclusive, lost, and detached from his creative spirit.
    minkahed, Ted Mooney, Dave112 and 2 others like this.
  25. GillyT

    GillyT Forum Resident

    Wellies, N.Z

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