Silver Screen King: Elvis' Acting Career
August 31, 2007
Watching Elvis' early films, he seemed like another James Dean. He was moody and charming and had dangerous sexual charisma.
In his music, he showed raw emotion and tenderness.
With 'Casablanca' director Michael Curtiz at the helm, Elvis delivered a critically acclaimed performance in the 1958 film King Creole.
Film critic Peter Travers said Elvis showed great potential in the role. 'If you watch scenes in 'King Creole' where he's acting, he's really good', he said. 'When I look at that movie now it kind of makes me sad because I see in that movie all of the potential that he had as an actor. A potential that was never realized'.
Another critical film success for Elvis came in the film Flaming Star, which co-starred Barbara Eden, before she even dreamed of being 'Jeannie'.
'The movie didn't make any money, 'cause he didn't sing', Eden said. 'He didn't get the girl and he died. And his fans didn't want him to die. They wanted him to sing and get the girl. So we had to go back and reshoot a scene in the kitchen where Elvis had his guitar and I hopped around the table. I guess, you could call it dancing. We did that to make his fans happy'.
After 'Flaming Star', Elvis made 25 more films, or as many have said, the same film 25 times over.
His films featured some of Hollywood's biggest stars before they were famous.
You spot a preteen Kurt Russell in his debut film, It Happened at the World's Fair. He'd grow up to play an Elvis impersonator in '3,000 Miles to Graceland'.
And Angela Lansbury played Elvis' mom in 'Blue Hawaii'. At the time he was 26, she was 35. But it's another raven-haired co-star whom many remember most vividly. The beautiful Ann-Margret was featured in Viva Las Vegas.
'I had never really seen him perform', she said in a 1994 'Good Morning America' interview. 'And when I started working with him it was uncanny, because we moved alike'.
Travers said 'Viva Las Vegas' was a good film; Elvis' manager Colonel Tom Parker wanted to keep him pigeonholed in formula films.
'Those of us who really love movies wish that the colonel could have let him stop and do a handful of really, really decent movies', he said.
Elvis discussed that idea with Eden.
'In fact, we talked about it on the set', Eden said. 'He said, 'You know, a lot of people say the colonel took advantage of me'. He said, 'He doesn't. And if it, if it wasn't for the colonel, I'd still be that hillbilly, you know, back in Memphis'.
But the formula worked, the movies were hits and Elvis was one of Hollywood's highest paid stars for most of the 1960s. He played a bus boy, a boxer, a sailor and a pilot. He even drove a racecar in three different films. In 2004, Entertainment Weekly named him their favorite movie racecar driver of all time.
But no matter what the role, whether he won the race, he had already won many hearts.
Specially for the 30th Anniversary ;
- Why Elvis? By Paul Simpson
- Elvis - 30 years on ... and the world turns ... By Mark Cunliffe
- Elvis Presley - 30 Years On and Still The King By David Troedson
- A personal Presley pilgrimage By Scott Jenkins
- In The Ghetto - Lisa Marie & Elvis Presley Video
- Interview with Lisa Marie Presley
- Father and Daughter Together Again
- Married at 21, Priscilla Presley Recalls Her Time With Elvis
- PhotoSynthesis: Elvis -- From 'Hillbilly Cat' to '68 Comeback
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Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.
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The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.
Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.