Loving You : Paramount 1957
July 22, 2004
It soon becomes apparent that the female faction of the audience just can't get enough of Deke either on stage or off. Glenda capitalizes on Deke's sensual appeal by providing him with customized costumes and arranging publicity stunts. Deke is torn between the attraction he feels toward Glenda and the genuine affection he has for the band's lead singer, Susan, played by Dolores Hart in her film debut. When Deke discovers that Glenda has been manipulating him personally and professionally, he becomes confused and runs away. A wiser and more mature Deke returns just in time to perform at a major televised concert, which serves as his introduction to the big time. 'Loving You' was originally titled 'Lonesome Cowboy' and then changed to 'Running Wild'. Ed Sullivan referred to this title when Elvis made his last appearance on his show, January 6, 1957.
Production began on January 21, 1957 and was completed in early March. Finally, 'Loving You', the name of a song Leiber and Stoller wrote for Elvis for the movie, became the title.
'Loving You' premiered in Memphis on July 10, 1957 at the Strand Theater. Elvis didn't go to that showing. Instead, he took his date Anita Wood and his parents to a private midnight screening. The film opened nationally on July 30, 1957 and peaked at #7 on the Varierty National Box Office Survey.
Elvis address' the cast and crew on the set of Loving You.
Dolores Hart and Elvis Presley in Loving You.
Director Hal Kanter spent some time on the road with Elvis and his band for research prior to the film's production. In December 1956, he went to see his performance at the 'Louisiana Hayride' in Shreveport. In its review The Los Angeles Times said 'A furtive step on Presley's part in a screen career'. In 1956, producer Hal Wallis bought the film rights to a story written by Margaret Agnes Thompson. It had appeared in the June 1956 issue of 'Good Housekeeping' magazine and was a story set in Oklahoma about a young singer called Lonesome Harris and his journey to stardom. Wallis thought it would be a perfect vehicle for Elvis.
Hal Wallis assigned Hal Kanter as the screenwriter and director for the movie.
At the time, Kanter, a native of Savannah, Georgia, was 37 years old. He had written for variety shows, graduating to screenplays and specializing in comedies. He wrote for Bob Hope as well as the comedy team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. For the movie 'Loving You', Wallis wanted Kanter to visit with Elvis and to get to know him off the movie set and as a live performer. So, on December 12, 1956 he flew to Memphis to meet the young star. On the first day, Elvis showed him around his Audubon Drive home, where Kanter enjoyed a meal of fried chicken with the Presley family. After a tour of Memphis on the 14th, they drove to Shreveport, Louisiana, stopping in Pine Bluff, Arkansas for dinner with entertainer friends of Elvis', Jim Ed Brown and Maxine Brown. Once in Louisiana, Kanter saw first-hand an audience's hysterical reaction to Elvis. He also noted a set of twins in the audience clapping to the music, one twin clapping her right hand to her sister's left. He made a mental note to include this small nuance in his script for 'Loving You'.
Over the years, Hal Kanter received six Emmy Award nominations, winning the last two for his writing on the annual Academy Awards telecast. He also wrote the script for Elvis Presley's 1961 hit film 'Blue Hawaii', which garnered him a 'Best Written American Musical' nomination from the Writers Guild of America.
Elvis Presley, as Deke Rivers, rocks an audience in 'Loving You'.
Elvis left Memphis by train for Hollywood on January 10, 1957. After recording sessions he reported on the 14th to the Paramount makeup and wardrobe departments for his new role as singer Deke Rivers. Edith Head was the lead designer for this film and 'Loving You' is one of the nine Elvis films the legendary movie costume designer participated in. Probably the most notable costume in the film is the famous red and white cowboy suit worn when Deke sings 'Teddy Bear'. Makeup was overseen by Wally Westmore.
It was on January 14, 1957 that Elvis first had his natural light brown hair dyed black.
He had decided it would look good on film, as did the dark hair of Tony Curtis, one of the actors he admired. He let his hair go back to its natural color while serving in the U.S. Army, 1958-60. But for that and a brief time in the early 1960s, Elvis kept his hair dyed black for the rest of his life.
In 'Loving You' the twins used for the hand-clap scene were Trude and Maida Severen. This was Trude's only film, but Maida continued acting, having roles in such movies as 'Marjorie Morningstar', 'Imitation of Life', and 'Airport 1975'. Her television work included a recurring role on 'General Hospital' and guest roles on 'The Addams Family', 'Gidget', 'Bewitched', 'Sanford & Son', and 'Starsky & Hutch'.
The executive producer for 'Loving You' was Paul Nathan, who had worked on films such as 'The Rainmaker' and 'Gunfight At The O.K. Corral'. Nathan worked as associate producer on eight other Elvis films: 'King Creole', 'GI Blues', 'Blue Hawaii', 'Girls! Girls! Girls!', 'Fun In Acapulco', 'Roustabout', 'Paradise,Hawaiian Style', and 'Easy Come, Easy Go'. Hal Pereira was the art director. His set designs can be seen in over 250 productions, including the Elvis films mentioned above. He received twenty-three Academy Award nominations for his work in such films, including 'Sabrina', 'The Ten Commandments', 'Funny Face', 'Vertigo', and 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'.
Musical director for 'Loving You' was Walter Scharf. He also worked on Elvis' 1958 film 'King Creole' and the 1981 documentary 'This Is Elvis'. Scharf received a Golden Globe award for the song 'Ben' from the movie of the same name. Among his career achievements were ten Academy Award nominations.
Elvis enjoyed working with choreographer Charles O'Curran, who was married to popular singer Patti Page at the time. O'Curran hung out with Elvis and his band off the set, often inviting them to his home. He staged musical numbers for five more Elvis films: 'King Creole', 'GI Blues', 'Blue Hawaii', 'Girls! Girls! Girls!' and 'Fun In Acapulco'. Wally Westmore had charge of makeup for 'Loving You', as he did for all of Elvis' Paramount films.
Lizabeth Scott played Deke Rivers' manager, Glenda Markle, who was a essentially a female version of Elvis' real-life career manager, Colonel Parker, the supreme promoter. Ms. Scott, a sultry blonde with a husky voice, was discovered by Hal Wallis in 1945 and was often compared with actress Lauren Bacall. She appeared in many films between 1945 and 1957, most of them for her mentor Mr. Wallis and Paramount. Among her film credits are: 'You Came Along', 'The Strange Love of Martha Ivers', 'Dead Reckoning', 'Desert Fury', and 'I Walk Alone'. Except for a role in 1972's 'Pulp', 'Loving You' was her last film. Ms. Scott is generally regarded as one of the queens of the 'film noir' genre of movies. Among her honors is a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Dolores Hart, Elvis Presley and Lizabeth Scott.
Wendell Corey played Walter (Tex) Warner, the leader of the band that Deke joins. Mr. Corey, son of a minister, was born in Massachusetts in 1914. Elvis once named a pet cat Wendell in his honor.
Dolores Hart played Deke Rivers' love interest Susan Jessup. Ms. Hart was born Dolores Hicks in Chicago in 1938. Coincidentally, her uncle was Mario Lanza, a singer Elvis admired. Hart worked with Elvis a second time when she co-starred with him in 'King Creole' in 1958. Among her other credits are the films 'Where the Boys Are', 'Francis of Assisi', 'Sail A Crooked Ship', and 'Come Fly With Me'. She decided to become a nun and, in the 1960s, walked away from a successful and promising acting career before it had peaked. She is now Mother Dolores, but is still a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Jana Lund has the distinction of being the first actress to share an on-screen kiss with Elvis. Her character Daisy Bricker stole that kiss when she snuck into Deke Rivers' dressing room on a dare. (Dolore Hart, later in the same film, shares the first on-screen kiss initiated by an Elvis character.) Ms. Lund's character is also the catalyst for the big fight scene between her boyfriend Wayne and Deke.
The character of Wayne, who loses the fight in the diner, was played by Kenneth Becker. Mr. Becker can also be seen in the Elvis films 'G. I. Blues', 'Girls! Girls! Girls!' and 'Roustabout'. Mr. Becker also had a number of guest roles on TV western series such as 'Gunsmoke', 'Bronco', 'Bonanza', and 'Wanted Dead or Alive'.
Paul Smith played Skeeter, the band mate who loans Deke his guitar. In the film Deke always breaks the strings on Skeeter's guitar until Deke's growing importance with the group prompts bandleader Tex to buy Deke a guitar of his own. (That bit in the script was an inside joke that writer Hal Kanter picked up on as Elvis actually did often break his guitar strings.) Among Paul Smith's film credits are 'Cowboy Blues', 'The Westward Trail', 'Battle At Apache Pass', 'All That Heaven Allows', and 'Funny Face'.
Booking agent Carl Meade was played by James Gleason.
Joan Bradshaw had an uncredited bit part in 'Loving You' and several other movies in 1957. She went on to become a producer on such films as 'Mrs. Doubtfire', 'Cast Away', and 'Road To Perdition'.
Carole Dunne played as a teenage extra in 'Loving You' and is today an award winning hair stylist for film and television. As in many Elvis movies, the cast of 'Loving You' included a number of veteran character actors, including Joe Gray, Irene Tedrow, William Forrest, Madge Blake and Skip Young.
Joe Gray, a former boxer, was a fight coordinator and a longtime film double for Dean Martin. Among his credits are the Elvis movies 'Loving You', 'GI Blues' and 'Kid Galahad'. Other credits include 'Rio Bravo', 'Ocean's Eleven', 'Breakfast At Tiffiany's', 'Robin And the Seven Hoods', and 'Bye Bye Birdie'. Irene Tedrow played Mrs. Jessup. Among her hundreds of roles in film and television, two earned her Emmy Award nominations - one for the TV show 'James at 15' and another for the TV mini-series 'Eleanor and Franklin'.
William Forrest played Mr. Jessup. He too had hundreds of roles, including one in the Elvis film 'Jailhouse Rock'.
Yvonne Lime played Sally in 'Loving You'. She also briefly dated Elvis and visited him in Memphis for Easter in April 1957. At the time Elvis and his family were renovating Graceland and had not yet moved in. Elvis brought her out to see his new home. Ms. Lime previously had a longtime role as Dotty on the TV series 'Father Knows Best'. She continued to act after 'Loving You' until her marriage to TV producer Don Federson, when she turned her energies to children's charities. She and fellow actress Sara O'Meara founded International Orphans Inc., building orphanages in Japan and Vietnam, as well as starting Childhelp USA for abused and neglected.
Elvis' parents Vernon and Gladys and their friends Carl and Willy Nichols came to Hollywood for a month of vacation and to see where their son worked. They spent time sightseeing and both ladies bought pet poodles. Mrs. Nichols named her poodle Pierre and Mrs. Presley named hers Duke after John Wayne. Scotty Moore and his wife Bobbie took the Presleys to see the filming of the Tennessee Ernie Ford weekly TV show. They were introduced from the audience and went back stage to meet Mr. Ford. Elvis and his date Joan Blackman took them to see the movie 'The Ten Commandments'. (Blackman was Elvis' leading lady in 'Blue Hawaii' a few years later in 1961 and then again in 1962's 'Kid Galahad'.) Vernon and Gladys also visited Elvis on the set of 'Loving You'. It was on a visit to the studio that Hal Kanter got the idea to include them as extras in the Grand Theatre audience. They can be seen sitting on the aisle with Mr. and Mrs. Nichols next to them.
Behind the Scenes of Loving You
To ensure that the film captured the essence of Elvis' life as a performer, Wallis sent director/co-scriptwriter Hal Kanter to observe Elvis' live appearance on the radio program 'Louisiana Hayride' on December 16, 1956. Kanter followed Elvis around for a few days in Memphis and then in Shreveport, Louisiana, where the 'Hayride' program was based. Kanter was able to capture the chaos, exhilaration, and confusion that surrounds an up-and-coming popular singer. In addition to capturing the highs of an entertainer's life, Kanter also worked a number of lows into the storyline, suggesting a 'price of fame' theme.
While Deke is dining in a restaurant, for example, fans interrupt his meal to ask him to perform, and they then become resentful when he refuses -- a reference to Elvis' own real-life lack of privacy.
In another scene, fans write love notes in lipstick on Deke's car, which recalls the many times fans had ruined the finish on Elvis' vehicles by leaving similar testimonies in lipstick and nail polish.
Dolores Hart and Elvis Presley : Loving You.
To further equate Elvis with Deke, Kanter and Wallis allowed some of Elvis' family and friends to appear in the film in cameos and bit roles. His parents, Vernon and Gladys, appear as members of the audience in the final production number. Real-life band members Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and DJ Fontana have bits as Deke's band members. The most obvious similarity between the real-life Elvis and the fictional Deke was the controversy both generated because of their performing style. The film explains that the controversy surrounding Deke is based on a misunderstanding involving miscalculated publicity stunts. This was central to the production team's attempt to make Elvis more acceptable to mainstream audiences.
Actors: Elvis Presley, Lizabeth Scott, Wendell Corey, James Gleason, Ralph Dumke
Directors: Hal Kanter
Writers: Hal Kanter, Herbert Baker, Mary Agnes Thompson
Producers: Hal B. Wallis, Paul Nathan
Format: Color, Original recording remastered, NTSC
Elvis Presley ... Jimmy (Deke Rivers) Lizabeth Scott ... Glenda Markle, Wendell Corey ... Walter (Tex) Warner, Dolores Hart .... Susan Jessup James Gleason .... Carl Meade Ralph Dumke ... Jim Tallman Paul Smith ... Skeeter Kenneth Becker ... Wayne Jana Lund ... Daisy Bricker Vernon Rich ... Harry Taylor David Cameron ... Mr. Castle Grace Hayle ... Mrs. Gunderson Dick Ryan ... Mack Steve Pendleton ... Mr. O'Shea Sydney Chatton ... Ed Grew
Recorded at the Paramount Scoring Stage and Radio Recorders, Hollywood. Engineers: Phil Wisdom and Thorne Nogar. January - February 1957.
Available from Loving You DVD
By Daniel Avram & David Troedson | April 2004.
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