Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Bink, Aug 22, 2021.
LOVER DOLL is quite interesting: it is not the best material to work with but Elvis sells it effortlessly.
In the FTD edition, you can listen to the original demo and it is very "little darlinesc" but Elvis takes it to another level, very classy.
I for one prefer the dubbed version with the Jordanaires in the background:
One of my all time favorites.
Not to rub it in, but this was a $6 DVD for ages when it was in print - glad I got mine then.
Because I was born the same time and day as Elvis 20 years later, I've always had a special interest in his life and career. His movies weren't bad. They were entertainment fluff. It was basically sitcom meets musical with an ever so slight plot. It wasn't Gone with the Wind, or Ben Hur and wasn't designed to be. I grew up in a town of 6800 people that had a little theater that was usually open for three or four years and then closed for two. We saw the first three or four James Bond movies and five or six Elvis movies. His movies were no different than Martin and Lewis. They were playful, musical, and ended well. For kids (me) they were fun. For teens they were the perfect dating storm. The girls would call Elvis dreamy. The guys would complain and put up a front about not going, but secretly, they knew they knew that they would get to see Ursula Andress, Nancy Sinatra, Mary Ann Mobley, and the rest. Usually an album followed the movie so you got the soundtrack music which was all Elvis. I know from Elvis' bio he did hate them. He was very serious about his career. There are 31 movies to address in this thread. Three or four of them were dramatic. Elvis wasn't Bogart, Gable, or Tracy. Even with "Bad" movies, they still called him "The King".
I've been on an Elvis movie kick the last several days. So far I have watched.
Paradise Hawaiian Style
On deck: Viva Las Vegas, Speedway and It Happened At The World's Fair. I have seen these films at least a dozen times through my life and never seem to get tired of them (well not for long, anyway).
Just picking up on this interesting thread! My thoughts on the 50s' films (all four) so far discussed:
Love Me Tender
It's cute and charming to see Elvis "trying" so hard to be a dramatic actor, despite his complete and total lack of technique. All things considered, he does fairly well! There are a few difficult moments in his performance, but he isn't required to do too much in terms of acting (just be happy or angry) and manages well enough. The film itself is a bit dull and slow, but has a lot of charm, I think.
Here's a thought: The setting of the film was 90 years prior to shooting, and today it's been 65 years since shooting.
The one major issue with this film -- and this will be repeated, endlessly, in the films to follow -- is Elvis's musical performances. In Love Me Tender, he's a brooding Civil War era brother with secrets... who suddenly whips out a guitar and sings a 1950s'-style song on the front porch, delighting granny and friends. It's just really hokey, but I guess they knew if the film was to make money they had to get the teens in. (It was noted by some critics that Elvis was the only actor in this film with an authentic accent.)
It's a fairly well-made film in which Elvis basically plays himself (country-hick who suddenly becomes a singing star). If you go with this flimsy plot, it's a pretty good dramatic film with a bunch of tunes (the 'Mean Woman Blues' one is a classic, though highly unbelievable). Beautifully shot in COLOR, and young Elvis maybe never looked better. For me, though, this is hard one to get through, as it's slow and nothing exciting happens. Overall, I think I prefer Love Me Tender.
It's good, and we get the real "bad-ass" Elvis character here -- the one who scared adults ("that's just the beast in me!"). Again, I do find the story rather slow and ponderous, but at least there's some violence and action and the aforementioned bad-assery. (The plot here is a bit like Merle Haggard's life.) The dance / singing thing for 'Jailhouse Rock' at the end is... okay. As an isolated music-video, it's certainly nice, but as an addendum to an otherwise pretty dark and dramatic movie, it's got the whiff of strong cheese.
Elvis himself liked this movie best, and so do many fans/critics. I do think it's one of his best... but I also think it gets worse as it goes along, leading to the highly anti-climactic ending, which is rather weak and unsatisfying. The plot (drawn from the Harold Robbins' novel) also gets ahead of itself, making it far too easy for "Elvis" to get the singing job at the night-club, which is highly unbelievable, as is the speed at which he becomes a local star. But this film has a beautiful opening sequence ('Crawfish'), which might be favorite Elvis-moment-in-film of them all, and the atmospheric shots of New Orleans are wonderful. The cast is excellent, and Elvis has some chemistry on-screen with other actors. I love the complex relationship he has with his father, for example. I also love how his girlfriend is portrayed -- she's basically a young floozy, desperate for any bad-ass dude to sweep her up and take her away from her boring day job. That characterization I find highly realistic and raw.
Overall, I can't say any of these 50s' films are great. I can't even decide which is my favorite. I think Loving You is maybe the least interesting, though at least it's in color. King Creole has by far the best visual atmosphere and cast and photography. But Jailhouse Rock is the most "believable" (in relative terms), and the grittiest and sexiest. Love Me Tender is less impressive technically, but as it's not an "Elvis movie" it actually has the best plot and pacing. It's also very interesting from today's perspective, in its 1950s' Civil War-era recreation.
For me and so far:
4- Love Me Tender
3- Loving You
2- King Creole
1- Jailhouse Rock
Looking at the Wikipedia page for Elvis' movies, I notice that King Creole was banned in Mexico after a riot took place at the Las Americas cinema when the film opened.
Apparently the same thing happened when GI Blues was released so Mexico banned all Elvis movies until 1971. The ban appears to have even affected the filming of Fun In Acapulco!
Year of release: 1960
Director: Norman Taurog
Elvis plays Tulsa McLean, a singing GI in West Germany, who wants to raise money to open a nightclub when he leaves the army. So he takes part in a bet to melt the icy heart of dancer Lily.
Doin' The Best I Can
Tonight's So Right For Love
Pocketful of Rainbows
Before anyone asks, all the actual footage shot in Germany(including the army films) are all B roll filmed with the cooperation of the European command. Elvis never returned to Germany as all his scenes were shot in Hollywood.
As a soundtrack this is my favorite hands down. Every song is memorable but Shoppin' Around and What's She Really Like stand with any non soundtrack tune he would do for years.
I have to pull it out again, but isn't What's She Really Like in the film?
What's She Really Like only appears briefly in the film - Elvis sings a couple of lines in the shower!
Movie poster for GI Blues. As we move further in to the 1960’s some of these posters get some nice visuals:
Images of the press kit are at the link below. I collect these but don’t have this one - for the ones I do have I’ll try and post quotes from them as some are quite amusing.
ELVIS GI BLUES MOVIE PRESSBOOK 1960 UNCUT | #138125217
Lobby cards, artwork, etc. can be found here:
G.I. Blues (1960) – THE STILLS | Elvis – Echoes Of The Past
Oh yes, someone who appreciates this great soundtrack as much as I do! Those are two of my favorite songs Elvis period, even outside the soundtrack catalogue. I also love Doing The Best That I Can, Pocket Full Of Rainbows and even the often maligned Wooden Heart (I love the delicacy and sound of Elvis singing some of the lyrics in German).
G.I. Blues is also one of my favorite lighter Elvis movies. It cannot compete with King Creole or even Flaming Star as far as overall critical quality, but I find Elvis's performance quite whimsical and delightful. I think he has seems to be having a good time while making this film and he carries the additional swagger of actually playing a soldier after being one in real life. Elvis looks fantastic in that uniform and his natural charisma radiates despite the fluffy nature of the script. Just watch Elvis's facial expressions during this fine sequence on Frankfurt Special. How could I not love Elvis in this movie? His character's name is Tulsa, which is the town in Oklahoma where both of my parents are from. My Dad was the PD for the Mighty 690 radio station in San Diego at this time and he surely must have been playing a lot of Elvis during these years, before he moved back into the television industry where he first started.
Although I had watched GI Blues before, it's not one of the Elvis films that I return to often. But I enjoyed watching it again today.
Some of the things that occurred to me as I watched it:
You might think that after his time away from the music business while he was in the army that the powers that be might try to replicate the kind of artist he was in the 50's. However they have obviously embraced his army career and absorbed it into his public persona.
I had generally thought in his 60's movies that they became more fantasy musicals where he would break into song as they do in other musicals. However most of the musical performances are from the fact that his character is a performer.
The storyline probably wouldn't be used in today's films - I was waiting for the female character to turn the tables on Elvis and his army buddies!!!
Because of this film, I always associated Wooden Heart with Elvis. Boy was I surprised to learn it was Joe Dowell who had the hit in the US and it went to #1. Same goes for Suspicion but only because Terry Stafford did such a good job impersonating Elvis.
GI Blues is a decent enough movie, albeit lightweight. And it seems to set a precedent in tone as to what’s just about to come. But the soundtrack certainly elevates it. Still needs a Blu-ray release (my copy is part of the two-for DVD release w/King Creole).
Elvis also seems totally at ease in the movie, whereas he’s more on-edge in his 50’s movies. I certainly don’t mean it in a bad way and it should be read as a compliment - his screen presence is what helps hold these lighter films in place.
Honestly, how long do you think they took to write this? This was a chance to capitalize on Elvis service since he did absolutely nothing from the time he reported. AND left RCA dry with no product. Hell of a gamble. So is portraying a soldier with that out of reg haircut..
Did this soundtrack ever go out of print? I remember singing Big Boots while rocking my first born. First lullaby I thought of.
He did leave RCA with product ‘in the can’ when he left for the army, including the singles One Night, A Fool Such As I and Big Hunk o’ Love . Much of which was used for the Gold Records Vol. 2 LP, released in 1959.
Will follow thia thread with interest
I was surprised to learn that only 9 or 10 Presley movies were released on Blu ray.
I have seen just a few when I was a kid and remember very little, except for Jailhouse Rock that I found terrific, and the average but funny Blue Hawaii that I remember seeing in august 1987 as part of a tribute to him, 10 years after his passing. Blue Hawaii was shown in its widescreen version, the black bars on top and bottom of our old CRT TV were huge!
Now I don't, know for sure, maybe the old CRT TV had some weird calibration, but I had the impression that the film looked awesome; vivid and vibrant colours. Would like to see a proper restoration on blu ray.
GI Blues is a fun film with an excellent soundtrack - arguably the best of the 60s. But the difference in style and tone between this and King Creole, or any of the 50s films, is striking. The Elvis persona has clearly changed and this is the start of the Elvis we would see in most of the films in the 60s.
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