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Elvis movies

Mon May 21, 2012 12:58 am

Although I'm an Elvis collector (of his music), I have been quite restrained in watching his Hollywood movies. So far I've seen Love Me Tender, Loving You, Jailhouse Rock, King Creole, GI Blues, Blue Hawaii, Fun In Acapulco, Roustabout, Viva Las Vegas, Paradise Hawaiian Style, Double Trouble, Change of Habit, TTWII, On Tour.

Have I missed much ?

Re: Elvis movies

Mon May 21, 2012 1:08 am

James27 wrote:Although I'm an Elvis collector (of his music), I have been quite restrained in watching his Hollywood movies. So far I've seen Love Me Tender, Loving You, Jailhouse Rock, King Creole, GI Blues, Blue Hawaii, Fun In Acapulco, Roustabout, Viva Las Vegas, Paradise Hawaiian Style, Double Trouble, Change of Habit, TTWII, On Tour.

Have I missed much ?


Many here rate Follow That Dream highly, and Flaming Star and Wild In The Country are certainly worth a watch - Flaming Star is probably Presley's best acting performance. On than that, Speedway and Trouble With Girls are worth 90 minutes of your time. They aren't great films, but Speedway is fun, and Trouble With Girls is an interesting failure.

Re: Elvis movies

Mon May 21, 2012 1:15 am

If you collect the music, presumably you already have most of the soundtracks.

Watch 'em all: it's rarely great art but there's fun to be found if you look hard enough.

Re: Elvis movies

Mon May 21, 2012 1:29 am

Yes, I've bought all the FTD soundtracks through the years, and thus have discovered several "gems amongst the dross".
I certainly will take your suggestions, thanks.

Re: Elvis movies

Mon May 21, 2012 1:36 am

I posted the paragraph below a few years ago: watching the 60s movies in order can be an intriguing experience ...

"I've just spent the last couple of months re-watching almost all of Elvis' movies in order of filming ("Change Of Habit" tomorrow!) and it's fascinating to watch the changing political and social events of sixties America through the non-stop run of Elvis films.

Watch the movies and observe the following:
* The US Army still appearing relatively cool and friendly ("GI Blues")
* Pleas for racial tolerance ("Flaming Star")
* Acceptance of pschoanalysis ("Wild In the Country")
* Recognition of organised crime ("Follow That Dream" and "Kid Galahad")
* The beginning of the space race after JFKs speech ("It Happened At The World's Fair")
* The development of Vegas as the place to party ("Viva Las Vegas")
* Early sixites fashion arrives ("Viva Las Vegas")
* References to student life ("Roustabout" and "Girl Happy")
* References to folk-songs ("Roustabout")
* The arrival of the Beatles ("Girl Happy")
and lots more!

Hey, fabulous locations, great songs, lots of girls ... and also an education ..."

Re: Elvis movies

Mon May 21, 2012 1:53 am

Hey, that's cool and certainly worth doing, great observing! I missed that post the first time..

Re: Elvis movies

Mon May 21, 2012 2:06 am

carolynlm wrote:I don't really rate Follow That Dream very highly, but it is very funny.....

I do carolynlm I just love this movie!

Re: Elvis movies

Mon May 21, 2012 2:12 am

I could have sworn it was in your top 5 last week, carolyn !!! ? Anyway, I love Follow That Dream, one of my very favourite Elvis films ! this film, imo, shows Elvis could act !

Re: Elvis movies

Mon May 21, 2012 2:59 am

I am a fan of his music, I am not a fan of his movies. Whilst I can tick the box that I have seen them all, I do not own them all on DVD.

Re: Elvis movies

Mon May 21, 2012 4:54 am

Matthew wrote:I am a fan of his music, I am not a fan of his movies. Whilst I can tick the box that I have seen them all, I do not own them all on DVD.



There are a good few I didn't even make all the way through - Harum Scarum is only not on that list as I was doing some uni work on it.

Re: Elvis movies

Mon May 21, 2012 5:37 am

Definitely check out Kid Galahad and Follow That Dream. I even like the songs in those 2.

Re: Elvis movies

Mon May 21, 2012 7:01 am

Hi James,

Elvis does some good acting in "Wild In The Country". But I don't think the fans like the movie much because he didn't sing alot in it.

For the most part you just have to remember that Elvis' movies were made in the 50's and 60's. It's hard for alot of movies to hold up after 50 years. Of course they weren't going to win any oscars and he wasn't the best actor but for someone who had no training he did make some decent movies early in his career.

James another movie you should watch is"Tickle Me" if nothing else just for Jocelyn Lane! :)

When I was a little rat watching these Elvis movies at the drive-in movies in the early and mid sixties I did enjoy them. Now I'm 51 and there are some that I just can't watch at all. But then there are alot of movies I watched from the 50's and 60's that I can't watch anymore.

Movies that are made today are so superior to the ones that were made back then. I'm talking about the way they are made. I don't think there are as many great stars today as there were back then. But that just might be me being an old man. :)

Re: Elvis movies

Mon May 21, 2012 8:19 am

An Elvis-movie confession.

It's only recently that I've given "Follow That Dream" a fair chance, and that's no knock on its quality, which always seemed apparent. The reason is that I saw it pretty soon after he died (don't remember when, exactly), and thus I was quite young and lived down south. So I thought they were making fun of him! I got the character all mixed up with the "Jethro Bodine" idea, became very defensive about the character, the setting, and I didn't realize that Elvis played the part with great wit and knowing charm. I mean, I made up my mind early on, and just didn't give it a chance. Until recently.

I have come to appreciate it a lot more, and it's funny, and not in a way that he's the target, but it's genuinely funny. I think he has a balancing act, and negotiates it very well. It's just that early on, I'd hardened my heart toward it. "What were they trying to do to him, now?" That kinda thing. But I realize that he is deliberately overdoing the accent, and he knows what he's doing, and the humor hits the right targets, not the wrong ones. That was one that I usually recoiled from, simply because he was cast as a "hick." (This, even though I knew the Tom Petty story quite early on, and was impressed.)

Sometimes, you have to give something a chance. It's interesting how people sometimes bring their own defensiveness into "the theater" with them. (Well, there was no theater, at that point: it was taped off the TV.) Sometimes, you just have to watch the movie. I don't know if anyone else has had similar misgivings about other films, and then re-evaluated.

So, now I not only like the music, I also like the film. (I sometimes even do "the multiplication tables" when I can't sleep! For real. It's charming.) And it's like having an additional Elvis film that I like to watch.

(Uh, George, I'll tell you, every time Elvis signs up to be an astronaut in "It Happened," it just tickles me. {Excuse the bad pun.} I mean, for years, he wouldn't even fly on a plane! Elvis had "the right stuff," but I don't know about NASA. :wink: )

Happy watching!

rjm

Re: Elvis movies

Mon May 21, 2012 8:22 am

poormadpeter wrote:There are a good few I didn't even make all the way through - Harum Scarum is only not on that list as I was doing some uni work on it.

Please elaborate, Peter?

Re: Elvis movies

Mon May 21, 2012 9:20 am

I always liked the Elvis movies,still do

Re: Elvis movies

Tue May 22, 2012 5:52 am

It all depends what you're looking for in a movie. If you enjoy Elvis' on screen persona, most of his movies are relatively pleasant.

I would say though that amongst those you've missed Flaming Star, Follow That Dream (which critics aside I believe contains Elvis' best work as an actor), Kid Galahad and The Trouble With Girls are honest to gosh good movies. Flaming Star was directed by Don Siegel, a first class director who directed very fine films including Dirty Harry, Charlie Varrick, Escape From Alcatraz and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It's very interesting look at race and at the harsh realities of a race war which is what the conflict between whites and American Indians essentially. Although it's a little heavy handed at times, mostly it's very sober and subdued and hesitates away from villains and heroes. It has some good action sequences and Siegel got a good performance out of Elvis. I'm not the biggest fan of the last half hour but when the BFI compiled a list of essential westerns for its history of the form in the late 1980s Flaming Star was one of the choices.

Follow That Dream is also a very, very good movie which makes a lot of points about the survival instinct, about the ingenuity of the common man and the corruption of bureaucracy. One of the screenwriters was Charles Lederer who was one of the greats of all time. This is actually one of the rare Elvis movies where the songs detract from the film's interest. Aside from the title song and "Angel" the songs are weak and not presented especially well on the screen. Still, that's a minor flaw when you take in the whole especially Elvis' acting, where he displays a gift for light comedy and has a few big dramatic moments Of course, beyond Elvis. there's well used Florida locations a first rate supporting cast including Arthur O'Connell (a two time Oscar nominee), Howard McNear who played Floyd on the Andy Griffith Show and is very funny here, Joanna Moore, Simon Oakland and Jack Kruschen and as I mentioned probably the best screenplay of any Elvis movie.

Kid Galahad is probably Elvis' most underrated movie. I think because it was a remake of a well loved '30s boxing classic and was directed by Phil Karlson, a director who specialized in extremely tough action films like Walking Tall and The Phenix City Story (which contains a scene of a child's dead body being thrown from a car), people expected something different. It's not an action film. And it's only a boxing film by strict definition. It's actually a pastoral type movie, a tribute to small town America, multiculturalism, and the power of positive thinking. It's a gentle rather than hard hitting movie. Elvis' character comes into town and sees beauty in the place that the jaded town residents have taken for granted. His success in the ring helps the town residents find common ground and pride in themselves and their hometown. Boxing is just the way he does it. The scenery is very beautiful and you can see what Walter/Elvis sees in the place (although it's actually California not upstate New York). This is another case of the songs derailing the dramatic impact although unlike FTD all the songs here save "A Whistling Tune" emphasize and expand the character. The boxing sequences are also not what we would consider super realistic today. However, this is still well, well worth seeing. The supporting cast which includes Academy Award winner Gig Young, Charles Bronson, period favorites Lola Albright and Robert Emhardt along with Joan Blackman, who is much, much sexier here than she was in BH, is among the best of any Elvis film. Just don't go looking for a hard hitting gangster/boxing film. The gangsters are merely the challenge to the hero's belief in himself and his hometown. Elvis is not as good here as he was in FTD or FS but his character is not nearly so complex or interesting. He's required to convey a gentle likability and an interior strength and he does that. It's not the type of thing that wins Oscars but it helps make an enjoyable movie.

Of the four good movies I mentioned, The Trouble With Girls is the weakest but it's still very good with a very strong sense of place and era (despite some anachronisms). It captures the sense of disruption an event like a Chautauqua could bring to a small town where life seldom varies. It's an ensemble piece and there's probably too many plot strands to cover and get everything down. But the story with Sheree North is definitely worth watching. There's a fairly wonderful sequence where North's child and a young friend watch a handful of fire crackers explode. It captures a little kid's sense of wonder in the world. In a few scenes Peter Tewksbury gets a little too modern as when Elvis sings the very good movie song "Clean Up Your Own Backyard" but still he keeps on course most of the way. A lot of fans don't like this movie because Elvis plays a much smaller role than he plays in any of his other movies. However, I think you can see some growth in Elvis as an actor here. There's an attempt at an interpretation of a character as opposed to the way he tried to inhabit some of his earlier characters. I'm not saying he's as compelling as he is in those other roles, but he is doing something different. This film actually got a three and a half star of four review in a prominent film guide in the early 1980s.

I would say for Elvis fans that Wild in the Country is also an essential view because of the role it played in Elvis' greater career. It's very ambitious with a (not very good) screenplay by Clifford Odets. It's not well directed but Elvis does well as does most of the cast. As a fan of '60s cinema I find it very interesting because it has a slew of up and coming actors Elvis included, none of whom really lived up to their potentials. Elvis' co-star the great Tuesday Weld, who is enough reason alone to watch the movie, seldom got the roles due her amazing talent. Millie Perkins, who two years before had led an Oscar nominated film, had already peaked. Hope Lange seemed ok with secondary roles on TV but could have done more. Garry Lockwood (playing a character that doesn't exist in the novel the film is based upon) had his greatest success playing second banana to a computer.

As George said many of the movies also capture changes afoot in the 1960s or social movements or events. A generous look at It Happened at the World's Fair could see that film as an excellent infotainment with songs about the fair rather than a failed musical. The Seattle World's Fair was a pretty big deal in its time and you can step back and experience a bit with Elvis and songs while watching the film. In Live a Little, Love a Little you can see some of the bewilderment 30 and 40 somethings had at the emerging sexual revolution.

If you like the Elvis movie as a form of entertainment (which I'm assuming by your post you don't) or those trashy '60s beach movies, Girl Happy is a good zippy watch because it because it is self-consciously an Elvis movie. It opens with a shot of Elvis' face on a billboard.

1965's Tickle Me has interest from a historic perspective because Elvis finally gets to play Dean Martin in a cut rate Martin and Lewis knockoff with Jack Mullaney taking the Lewis role.

I would recommend Stay Away Joe as a rental. It's a chore and a half to sit through but if you can get through it, you'll see one of Elvis' best acting performances lost in the mud that surrounds him. Again, this one is to be taken with extreme caution.

The only Elvis movies that have absolutely nothing to see are Paradise Hawaiian Style (in that one you can see Elvis' frustration with the project through some of his gestures) and Kissin' Cousins which despite Glenda Farrell, Jack Albertson and O'Connell is an insult to Elvis and country music and its cheapness is reflected on the screen. Again, though, this does not make Harum Scarum anything but a tough view, but I think watching that film again today holds some interest when you consider our changing views of the Middle East, Elvis' semi-resemblance to Valentino, and the overt use of karate before it became mainstream. Doesn't make it a good movie, but they're a semi-redeeming qualities if you're inclined to take the dive.

RJM- On FTD, I think your concerns are more an issue with Kissin' Cousins. In FTD, Toby is an innocent but not a rube. His view of the world and mankind is actually kind of beautiful. Some of the trouble he gets in is because he sees people (until they prove him absolutely wrong) in the best possible light. He's got a lot of common sense though and when he's on his guard he can be wily and crafty. The small minded people are the sophisticates, although not all of them. The movie sees the Kwimpers (from New Jersey in the novel by the way) as industrious role models. They just need a challenge.
Last edited by likethebike on Tue May 22, 2012 7:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Elvis movies

Tue May 22, 2012 7:12 am

Generally his movies weren't great, but there are some better than others.

Follow That Dream is a good movie with a nice performance by Elvis.

Viva Las Vegas is the best `Elvis' movie.

There is also a bit to recommend in Change of Habit, especially in its efforts to be something of substance.

And I do like Stay Away, Joe, despite its obvious flaws.

Re: Elvis movies

Tue May 22, 2012 3:12 pm

Thanks for these great contributions to this topic, now I'm better informed before I catch up on these movies.

"Paradise Hawaiian Style", I watched this some years ago, and it was a chore to sit through. Elvis sometimes seems as if he was in on the joke, or just didn't care anymore, he also didn't look healthy to me. Nevertheless, I like the title song somehow (having seen it as soundtrack over the Aloha arrival scene) and This Is My Heaven, but that's it. "Double Trouble" was silly to me, I couldn't stand those bumbling detectives, so unfunny and outdated. The others I saw all had things to recommend.

Re: Elvis movies

Tue May 22, 2012 3:13 pm

rickeap wrote:Generally his movies weren't great, but there are some better than others.

Follow That Dream is a good movie with a nice performance by Elvis.

Viva Las Vegas is the best `Elvis' movie.

There is also a bit to recommend in Change of Habit, especially in its efforts to be something of substance.

And I do like Stay Away, Joe, despite its obvious flaws.


I like the title song "Change Of Habit", a very funky rhythm and I think a good song. Wouldn't mind seeing this remixed ala ALLC, along with "Let Yourself Go".

Re: Elvis movies

Tue May 22, 2012 4:02 pm

Those people (including many Elvis fans) who say Elvis couldn't act should watch Flaming Star and Follow That Dream back-to-back. The roles are entirely different, yet Elvis is highly convincing in both.

They are the standout films in my book. Wild In The Country has another excellent performance from Elvis, in his early-60s prime.

Steve Morse

Re: Elvis movies

Tue May 22, 2012 6:01 pm

mmm...I never considered TTWII and On Tour...."movies"...for me they always have been documentaries (or rockumentaries). Can't imagine them in the same category of his hollywood stuff :wink:

Re: Elvis movies

Tue May 22, 2012 6:24 pm

James27 wrote:Have I missed much ?

So there are Elvis movies that you really have never seen? I think it's safe to say that I have seen every film many times.

A few I have seen for the last time.

Re: Elvis movies

Tue May 22, 2012 8:59 pm

Yes Rob, I hope I have much to look forward to. Without many positive expectations, I think I can only be pleased.

Re: Elvis movies

Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:29 am

likethebike wrote: ... It all depends what you're looking for in a movie. If you enjoy Elvis' on screen persona, most of his movies are relatively pleasant ...

Your notes about the movies are interesting to read.

Re: Elvis movies

Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:42 am

Steve Morse wrote:Those people (including many Elvis fans) who say Elvis couldn't act should watch Flaming Star and Follow That Dream back-to-back. The roles are entirely different, yet Elvis is highly convincing in both.

Elvis wasn't bad, but real actors surely would have done better. I am sure, Elvis could have improved his acting by taking some lessons, but obviously he thought it wasn't worth the effort. :(