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Classically Speaking:
Promoting Classic Movies in a Jaded World!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


ELVIS PRESLEY (1935-1977), born Elvis Aron Presley

"Elvis Presley, Creating His Own Genre"

My education of Elvis Presley the actor truly began long after his death.  It was when I ran across several of his films on DVD for sale at very low prices.  Before purchasing any of them however, I asked the biggest Elvis fan I knew which films he felt were Elvis's best.  In high school, my friend Steve Barker not only had the third largest collection of Elvis memorabilia in America and had met the man once, Steve had impersonated Elvis, giving full concerts using authentic costumes from his collection.  It was at one of Steve's concert performances that I truly grasped what Elvis meant to the world.  I found myself screaming hysterically along with the rest of the drama class groupies.  Had it truly been Elvis, I think I would have fainted.

Today, it's hard to imagine that there is anyone in the civilized world that has not heard of Elvis Presley.  Even the Chilean miners trapped under ground for months in 2010 had sung Elvis songs to keep up their spirits.  It is true that Elvis will always be known for his great musical talent, his good looks, charisma, showmanship, dedication to his craft, and kindness to his friends, and strangers alike.  His appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, in which he was filmed solely from the waist up, is a landmark of television and music history in America.

What you may not know however is how fine an actor Elvis Presley was, as well.  He starred in thirty-one films between 1956 and 1969 and despite making movies that can be called sheer musical fluff, Elvis never failed to deliver a good performance, often standing well above the material he was given.

It was shortly after one of the Chilean miners sang on television a little Elvis for David Letterman during an interview shortly after the monumental rescue, that I began watching those Elvis movies that my friend had recommended in addition to any and all I found for sale.  Having seen maybe two films with weak plots as a teen, I didn't expect much, but much to my surprise, I learned Elvis had done a variety of dramatic roles with very good dialog, strong characters, and sound plot lines, too. I found myself driven to watch him in film after film.  I now understood why my friend Steve had been so captivated by Elvis in his youth, watching an Elvis movie on television.

Despite Elvis Presley never being recognized with an Academy Award, he truly did have something as an actor.  His movies are worth a look.  Possibly like me, you'll want to own several and watch them again and again.  I'm grateful for the preservation of his films.  It has been wonderful to learn that Elvis always did his very best, how every movie he made earned money and collectively grew to be what became known as the man's own genre "The Elvis Movie." ~ ClassicLiz

Love Me Tender (1954)

Haven't you seen Love Me Tender (1956)?  This was Elvis's first film. It was also my first purchase.  This is a western that takes place at the end of the U.S. Civil War.  Everyone in this film gives a good performance.  I enjoyed this film so much that I had to see more Elvis movies.

Watch this and then see these other four films.

Follow That Dream (1962) This is a delightful comedy, certainly one that I will watch again and again.
Jailhouse Rock (1957) This film surprised me. I had seen the Jailhouse Rock musical clip from this movie for years, but didn't know the film that housed it.  What a great story about the rise of true talent in the music industry.  Elvis's performance is superb.
King Creole (1958)  This was Elvis's favorite performance.  It is directed by Michael Curtiz.  It takes place in New Orleans.  The music is fantastic from beginning to end.
Kid Galahad (1962) In this one, Elvis does some boxing.  You'll have to watch to see how he does.

*Recommendations contributed by: "Elizabeth Van Cleve Randolph" Date: Sun, Nov 14 2010 / 22:15:38 PST
"Elvis Presley, Creating His Own Genre" contributed by: ClassicLiz / "Elizabeth Van Cleve Randolph" Date: Sun, Nov 14 2010 / 22:15:38 PST


  • Have to admit, I'm not too keen on the films he made, but these would be the five best ones I recommend seeing first.
    Viva Las Vegas (1964)? Co-starring Ann-Margret this is a fun film to see with great music, songs and dancing.
    Jail House Rock (1957) Great acting by Elvis.
    Blue Hawaii (1961) The song "Can't Help Falling in Love" is sung in this film.
    Change of Habit (1969) The last film Elvis made.
    Love Me Tender (1956) The first film he made.

    By Anonymous Nina M., at Sun Nov 14, 09:46:00 PM PST  

  • Fri Dec 02, 03:35:00 PM PST
    Elvis is a different type of genre altogether. Do you call his movies musicals; they aren’t like The Sound Of Music. Do you call them dramatic? Perhaps the early ones (Jailhouse Rock, Loving You, Love Me Tender and even Flaming Star). But when you get into his 60s Hal Wallis productions, they all ran together. Sure, the character’s name would change, but Elvis was always the protagonist who got the girl and had three or four bad backups in his ”band.”

    Personally, I always thought Jailhouse Rock was his best work. That, and Heartbreak Hotel were certainly his best songs. (my opinion)

    By Anonymous Arlen Crawford, at Mon Nov 15, 04:52:00 PM PST