Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:02 pm
Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:02 pm
Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:05 pm
Delboy on Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:02 am wrote:I would have gone for ‘King Creole’ but hey ho. Nice to see the King at the top.
Fri Dec 08, 2017 9:24 pm
Greystoke on Thu Dec 07, 2017 6:02 pm wrote:It's been great to have Mark Kermode`s Celluloid Jukebox back on the radio and it's no secret that he's both a music-lover and a big fan of Elvis Presley, along with being a film critic and journalist whom I very much respect. Although I don't think his list of Six Pretty Perfect Pop Star Performances in the Movies is anything other than a choice selection. As opposed to ranking best, favourites, etc. Especially when it's Flaming Star that he discusses in this week's episode, saying that Elvis genuinely could act whilst also referring to A Star is Born. The title track from Flaming Star is also played during an overall excellent selection and a fine show.
From the Celluloid Jukebox web page.
Singers have been trying their hand at film acting since the very earliest days of talking pictures, when entertainer Al Jolson played the title role in 1927's The Jazz Singer with huge box office success. Crooners Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra both found new life in movies in the 40s and 50s, while Elvis Presley and The Beatles made hit films in the 60s. There have also been some notable cinematic misfires, like Mick Jagger in Ned Kelly (1970), David Bowie in Just A Gigolo (1978) and Madonna in Swept Away (2002). But here are six popstar turns that made the grade...
With Mark Kermode`s six selections being . . .
Elvis Presley: Viva Las Vegas
Art Garfunkel: Bad Timing
Whitney Houston: The Bodyguard
Harry Styles: Dunkirk
Mary J. Blige: Mudbound
With regards to his choices above, it's a good list, although I haven't seen Mudbound yet, so I can't comment on that film or Mary J. Blige`s performance. But what's obvious in this regard is that the trend of pop stars and singers turning to acting has continued strongly and unabated from Al Jolson in 1927 right up to today. With Harry Styles being especially good in his acting debut for Christopher Nolan in Dunkirk. And Lady Gaga seeking her first major leading role in Bradley Cooper`s new version of A Star is Born.
Styles, however, doesn't really have a keen interest in pursuing an acting career, unlike Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Barbra Streisand or Justin Timberlake. But as far as acting debuts are concerned, his was very much solid. Elvis, on the other hand, wasn't nearly as assured or impressive in Love Me Tender, but his debut remains one of the most anticipated and highly-publicised acting debuts in film history. Which meant that he had a lot to live up to almost immediately, and he certainly succeeded in many ways, given that he developed quickly, gave some good performances in good films, established himself as a leading man and was successful as both an actor and a recording artist.
Elvis may have found his career moving away from him in Hollywood and the quality of his films left a lot to be desired in the mid-sixties, but having a fully-realised film and music career is something that's difficult to accomplish. Especially for anybody who wants to find both creative opportunities and commercial success. This said, I think Elvis gave up too soon and shouldn't have closed the door on Hollywood in 1969.
He was understandably disillusioned with his career in the movies, although Elvis had been internationally famous as an actor for almost as long as he had been a singer. This, bearing in mind that his breakthrough year on the music scene also heralded his acting debut in Love Me Tender. But the likelihood is that he wouldn't have been able to court the same kind of salaries or opportunities as a leading man after 1969, given that his films weren't profitable by this stage and hadn't been for some time.
Elvis`s music career was, of course, back on track and thriving at this point, having recorded some of the best music of his career, found a resurgence on the charts and returned to the concert stage with much success. But there was still time and surely opportunity to continue acting had he been able to prioritise his career, take a few risks and make himself available and accessible in ways he hadn't been during the 1960s.
Taking a break from acting and focusing on his music made complete and utter sense, of course. He was not only finding renewed success, but was stimulated and challenged to create and explore new musical horizons. Which is something Elvis also needed in Hollywood, although the way he was managed and his own incapacity when it came to his career was a major problem. But I wonder what would have happened if an opportunity like A Star is Born came in 1971 or 1972.
Not that other singers/actors haven't had - or don't have - their own ups and downs, or face challenges of their own. Whilst taking breaks from singing, acting, performing live or recording isn't unsual for most singers/actors. Nobody in this regard does it all all of the time. Frank Sinatra, for example, took a two year hiatus from the concert stage between 1948 and 1950. Whilst his output with regards to albums and acting roles decreased significantly during the 1970s and 1980s. Barbra Streisand stopped performing regularly on stage between 1972 and 1994, focusing instead on acting, producing, directing and recording. Cher released a lot of great singles in the 1980s, but she took five years between albums at one point whilst she focused on her acting career (including an 8 year gap between top-forty albums). Justin Timberlake took seven years between albums doing the same. Whilst the likes of Art Garfunkel, Mick Jagger and David Bowie only acted occasionally and weren't nearly as active in Hollywood as Elvis. Although the nature of both industries has changed since the fifties and sixties.
This considered, there's still a lot to want from Elvis`s acting career and this is something that remains debatable in many respects. Personally, I wouldn't include any of his films or acting performances among my favourites with regards to singers who have turned to acting. Although there should be no real distinction in this regard when discussing anybody who has had a fully-fledged career both acting and singing. As opposed to taking occasional roles or finding some success then focusing primarily on their music, e.g., Prince, Eminem, Diana Ross, Whitney Houston or Jennifer Hudson.
Which is to take nothing away from their success in Hollywood. Because finding good roles and interesting properties isn't easy, whilst developing new and original projects is a major challenge when it's impossible to know what will be a success. And whilst Elvis may not have been willing or able to develop his own projects by way of commissioning properties, buying scripts or film rights, or establishing a production company, there's scores of singers who have wanted to act or had interest come their way from producers and studios alike, only to go nowhere in Hollywood. From Tony Bennett and Tom Jones to Britney Spears, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Sedaka, Christina Aguilera and Garth Brooks, to name but a few.
Elvis may not have had the most accomplished career when it came to both singing and acting, although he was successful and popular into the bargain. But there was a great deal of promise in his early roles and he was recording good music whilst scoring big at the box office and on the charts from 1956 to the mid-sixties. That's an achievement in itself. Whilst there was a hint in some of his later performances that he could have moved on to better roles in sturdier projects had he the inclination and opportunity to do so. Although that may have meant pursuing roles regardless of what he was paid. But that kind of rationale didn't come into play in the way he was managed.
Something also worth taking into consideration is that, aside from the standard of their acting or the quality of the projects they were involved in, what separates Elvis from Sinatra, Crosby, Streisand, etc., isn't just what they done in Hollywood, but how they done it. But just as there's much to want from Elvis`s acting career, there's a great deal to like, admire and enjoy, too. From the colour photography of the young Elvis performing in Loving You, to the Jailhouse Rock sequence, the improvement in his acting from King Creole to Flaming Star, the popularity and success of star vehicles like G.I. Blues and Blue Hawaii, his chemistry with Ann-Margret in Viva Las Vegas and more assured and mature performances in The Trouble With Girls and Change of Habit.
Ultimately, Elvis`s may not have achieved everything he wanted in Hollywood whilst he probably didn't reach his full potential as an actor. But when it comes to singers-turned-actors, he's usually in the conversation because he was able, successful and very popular. And whilst it's impossible to overlook the direction his career ultimately took, the likes of Jailhouse Rock and Viva Las Vegas have endured in spite of his many shortcomings. Whilst there's much to discover in Loving You, King Creole, Flaming Star and Follow That Dream. Especially when Elvis could bring a piece of himself or his persona to a role. Such as Danny Fisher in King Creole.
But those glimmers of something else, when he could invest himself in a character like Pacer Burton or Toby Kwimper and create something uniquely his own, showed that Elvis was capable of much more than he was given. Even if he wasn't willing or able to give his best. And who can blame him in many respects. Because it was impossible to really develop and grow in the type of roles that came to define his acting career. Which says a lot about films like Jailhouse Rock, Viva Las Vegas, Flaming Star or King Creole. Because they can be discussed on their own terms. More so now than ever before, I think. And that reflects well on Elvis even if a genuine re-assessment of his acting career wouldn't reveal anything new.
Fri Dec 08, 2017 9:26 pm
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