I usually celebrate Elvis’ Birthday by watching his movies, but one year I celebrated by watching all 31 of his movies in chronological order for three days only breaking for sleep. Elvis’ movies were how I discovered Elvis, how I fell in love with Elvis. I knew Elvis’ movies before I knew his music. I knew Elvis as a movie star before I knew him as a singer/performer. I used to watch Elvis’ movies with my mom on Sunday afternoons when I was little. I was two months shy of 5 years old when Elvis died, and yes remember that day clearly.
Some of Elvis’ movies are really great, a few are really terrible and the rest are just cheesy, wholesome, fun. But in every movie, you are guaranteed to see Elvis, so even when they’re bad they’re good. I mean no one carries themselves like Elvis does – shoulders back, arms kind of out to the side, ass out and then the strut. Oh that Elvis strut! Then there is that beautiful face with those full Elvis lips and that beautiful, passionate voice. Yes, Elvis sings in every film. He may not play a singer, but somehow finds himself singing. And in almost every film, Elvis plays someone just out of the army and / or someone with dead parents and no family. Elvis’ first four movies (before he went into the army) and a few others after were dramatic roles (with singing) with real story lines. It is a shame the fans wanted to see Elvis sing in his movies. I understand it is because it was the only way to see Elvis sing because he wasn’t doing concerts at the time, so I get it. But it is because of the fans wanting Elvis to sing in his movies that Elvis never realized his dream of becoming a serious actor. His few serious roles (the movies with only 2-4 songs) did not make money, so he was forced to sing 10 – 12 songs in each of his movies. Elvis did not want to sing in his movies. He wanted to act in his movies and save singing for his concerts.
My favorite Elvis movie is Girl Happy, followed in order by Wild in the Country, Jailhouse Rock, Kid Galahad, Loving You, Blue Hawaii, Girls Girls Girls, Paradise Hawaiian Style, Roustabout, Frankie and Johnny, Clambake, Change of Habit, King Creole, Viva Las Vegas and It Happened at the World’s Fair. Those are the 15 Elvis movies I watch repeatedly – and have put a * before the title below. Then there are others like GI Blues, Fun in Acapulco, Spinout, Follow That Dream, Easy Come Easy Go, The Trouble with Girls, Speedway, Live a Little Love a Little, Kissin Cousins, Tickle Me, Charro and Love Me Tender that are just ok – I watch these once in a while and usually have them on as background while I am doing something else. The remaining movies Harum Scarum, Double Trouble, Flaming Star and Stay Away Joe I wouldn’t miss if I never saw them again.
I have had all 31 of Elvis’ movies on DVD since the 1990. I also own the 27 Elvis movies that are available to stream on Amazon (on my fire stick, tablet and phone). For some reason Loving You, Kid Galahad, Follow That Dream, and Change of Habit are not available to stream online. I had seen all of Elvis’ movies at least once (some as many as a 100 times), but this is the first time I had seen many of them in 20 or 30 or maybe even 40 years. This was certainly the first time I had ever watched all 31 of Elvis’ movies in chronological order consecutively without watching anything else and only taking breaks for sleep. I began my Elvis Movie Marathon at 9:00am on Friday January 6, 2017 with Love Me Tender and finished at 6:00pm Sunday January 8, 2017 with Change of Habit. Be forewarned that some of these descriptions reveal plot points and might ruin the ending if you haven’t seen the movies, so read at your own risk.
**some of the facts I have gotten from books I have read over the years – hard to reference everything as over the years they have become general knowledge in my head**
LOVE ME TENDER 1956
I was never a huge fan of Elvis’ first movie because I don’t like westerns, plus Elvis is only in about half of the movie. It is not a bad movie, just not my thing. I like all the love story / soap opera stuff, but not all the shoot em up western stuff. It is not one I re-watch all the time. But I was SO excited in New York City the first time I went as an adult to see the Paramount Theater remembering that HUGE Elvis banner for the premiere of Love Me Tender on November 15, 1956. Elvis was SO young with such a southern accent in Love Me Tender – he was just SO beautiful and innocent in it (and his hair was still his natural light brown). Elvis’ first movie is one of the few Elvis movies that wasn’t really an ‘Elvis’ movie in that it was a movie with a real plot that just happened to have Elvis in it much like two of my favorites Wild in the Country and Kid Galahad, although he was the central character in those two movies. Unlike his later movies, Elvis is not in every scene in this one and obviously did not get top billing – actually this is the only movie Elvis was billed third. In fact, Elvis does not even appear in the movie until 18 minutes into it. Love Me Tender was the biggest release at that time with 575 prints (typical was 200-300), and recouped its costs within three days of release. In its first week, Love Me Tender became the #2 movie right behind James Dean’s final film Giant. Love Me Tender ranked 23rd in movies for 1956, and it was the first Elvis movie to be shown on television in 1963. Love Me Tender filmed for one month from August 20th to September 21st in 1956 on Fox Studios in Hollywood. During most of the filming, Elvis stayed at the Knickerbocker Hotel (1714 Ivar Ave, Hollywood) in Suite 1016 and then moved to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in mid-September. (**Interesting Fact: Elvis left Memphis for Hollywood on August 16th for his first movie – so many critical events happened to Elvis on or around the date of his death**) Elvis was paid $100,000. for his first movie role, and he was so excited he learned everyone’s lines in the movie. David Weisbart produced Love Me Tender, and he had also produced Rebel Without A Cause starring one of Elvis’ favorites (and mine) James Dean. Elvis enjoyed talking with Wesibart about Dean and even acted out a scene from Rebel. Weisbart went on to produce three more of Elvis’ movies: Flaming Star, Follow That Dream and Kid Galahad. Love Me Tender (in regards to Elvis’ character) is about The Reno Brothers, which was the original title before Elvis’ song “Love Me Tender” took over the title. Clint Reno (Elvis’ character) marries Cathy (played by Debra Paget who Elvis had a crush on in real life) who was his older brother Vance’s (played by Richard Egan) girlfriend before he went off to war. Vance was presumed dead but shocked the family when he returned from the war very much alive. Cathy is especially shocked as she is clearly still in love with Vance even though she is married to his brother Clint. The irony is when Clint sings “Love Me Tender” in the movie, it is obvious the song is actually for Vance and Cathy not Clint and Cathy. After shooting his brother Vance in jealousy over their shared love Cathy, Clint dies from a returned gunshot. It was leaked to the public that Elvis’ character was going to die at the end of the movie and needless to say Elvis fans were not too happy with this outcome. To avoid bad publicity, Elvis was called back later to shoot an alternate ending where his character lived, but this ending was not used. Instead they compromised with adding Elvis as sort of a ghost singing “Love Me Tender” at the end of Clint’s funeral. This way fans were left with the image of Elvis singing rather than dying. Elvis does not play a singer in Love Me Tender, but he does sing a few songs which really upset Elvis because he was told he would not have to sing in the movie. Elvis breaks into song just five minutes after his initial onscreen appearance. And a bit later on stage at the benefit, Elvis as Clint is literally doing the same thing he was doing in his concerts, complete with the girls in the audience screaming which is odd for the 1860s. Elvis was not allowed to use Scotty, Bill and DJ to back him up in the Love Me Tender, but he made sure they were backing him up in future movies like Loving You and Jailhouse Rock. Elvis recorded three songs for the Love Me Tender ‘soundtrack’ on August 24, 1956 on 20th Century Fox Stage 1. Those songs were “Love Me Tender,” “Poor Boy” and “We’re Gonna Move.” Elvis recorded “Let Me,” the fourth song for the ‘soundtrack,’ September 4th and 5th in that same Stage 1 of 20th Century Fox – he also recorded another version of “Poor Boy” during those sessions. If you notice in the credits, it says all songs “by Elvis Presley and Vera Matson.” You don’t see that in any other of Elvis’ movies because Elvis felt it was dishonest, so he put a stop to it. During the filming of Love Me Tender, Elvis appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time on September 9, 1956 singing “Love Me Tender” as one of his four songs. “Love Me Tender” was the first single of the time to go Gold before it was even released, the first time advanced sales for a single release had ever surpassed the million mark. It was #1 on the charts for four weeks. Elvis was still singing it 20 years later in concert. Sadly, “Love Me Tender” is not one of my favorite songs, but I did like it as the part of his 1970s concerts where he kisses all the ladies.
* LOVING YOU 1957
This is Elvis’ first movie in color and his only one in color out of the first four he made before going into the army. Elvis is even more beautiful in color! Loving You is my fifth favorite Elvis movie, although it’s almost tied with Kid Galahad for fourth. This film is almost autobiographical with Elvis playing a singer (Deke Rivers) and the older generation thinking Deke was vulgar and even cancelled a show. Even Scotty, Bill and DJ were on screen as Deke’s band – and Bill had a couple of lines. Not to mention his female manager was much like Colonel Parker with all the publicity stunts. This was the first of two films Dolores Hart costarred with Elvis. Unlike Love Me Tender, Elvis had top billing in Loving You. Elvis’ parents were shown in the audience, and it is said Elvis never watched the movie again after his mother died.
* JAILHOUSE ROCK 1957
Elvis’ third movie is also my third favorite Elvis movie, getting the slight edge over Loving You because I just love all the fashion and decor in Jailhouse Rock. This is the first movie where the credits said, “starring Elvis Presley.” It went from “introducing Elvis Presley” in Love Me Tender to Elvis having top billing but on the same screen as his two costars listed under him in Loving You to “starring Elvis Presley” in Jailhouse Rock, and it would remain that way for the next 28 films. This movie was again a little autobiographical, except for the going to jail part. Elvis played Vince Everett who was a singer then a movie star and became very famous very fast. Scotty, Bill and DJ again appeared on screen as his band. Also seen on screen were Elvis’ friends George Klein, Lamar Fike and cousin Gene Smith. Elvis’ costar, Judy Tyler, died in a car accident shortly after shooting concluded, and Elvis reportedly never watched this movie.
* KING CREOLE 1958
James Dean was originally supposed to play Danny Fisher, but after he died they rewrote the role for Elvis changing the character from a boxer to a singer. King Creole (based on the book A Stone for Danny Fisher) was directed by Michael Curtiz, who also directed Casablanca. Elvis’ costars with Walter Matthau, Carolyn Jones (who went on to play Morticia in The Addams Family) and Dolores Hart (who costarred with Elvis in Loving You and sooner after quit acting to become a nun). Elvis plays a singer on Bourbon Street in New Orleans (they shot on location) who gets mixed up with the mob. Most people claim this as their favorite Elvis film or say it was his best work, but these same people have never seen Wild in the Country, which to me was an even more dramatic role for Elvis and an even more dramatic story line.
GI BLUES 1960
This is Elvis’ first movie out of the army, and the first movie where Elvis plays that sort of goofy wisecracking playboy he will play in many future movies. In GI Blues, Elvis is a still a soldier in the army in Germany who of course sings. Some of the outdoor scenery shots were actually filmed in Germany. Elvis’ character, Tulsa, makes a bet with his buddies he can get Juliette Prowse’s (Frank Sinatra’s real-life girlfriend at the time) character into bed. GI Blues has one of my least favorite Elvis songs (along with Fever) in it – “Wooden Heart.” I cannot stand that song or that stupid puppet scene.
FLAMING STAR 1960
This is not my type of movie. I do not like Westerns, but this one is better than Stay Away Joe. Elvis plays a ‘half-breed’ whose mother is Native American and his father is white. They made Elvis VERY tan in this movie. Their family battles with the native Americans as well as the whites. Barbara Eden is Elvis’ costar, but not his love interest. One of the rare movies that is not a love story. Flaming Star is the first movie since Love Me Tender where Elvis does not play a singer, although he does sing a couple of songs. Elvis plays a cowboy and like Love Me Tender, his character dies at the end but we don’t see it.
* WILD IN THE COUNTRY 1961
This is my second favorite Elvis movie, and it’s only second because my favorite movie has a sentimental / nostalgia factor. I can’t stress this enough – if you haven’t seen or don’t remember Wild in the Country, go see it now! You will be pleasantly surprised. This movie never gets talked about or shown. I am flabbergasted why Wild in the Country is never considered in ‘The Best Elvis Movie’ discussion! Wild in the Country is a dramatic a role that Elvis ever played with an even more dramatic story line. It is the quintessential late 1950s early 1960s soap opera movie – up there with my favorites Imitation of Life, Mildred Pierce, Splendor in the Grass, A Place in the Sun and East of Eden. James Dean would have been proud – this was totally a James Dean type role. Elvis does not play a singer, but does sing a few songs that were added in to please the fans per the Colonel’s suggestion. Wild in the Country was based on the book The Lost Country. Elvis plays Glenn Tyler who almost kills his brother (played by Red West) in a fight. His punishment is to live with his uncle and cousin (played by Tuesday Weld) and see a psychiatrist (played by Hope Lange who starred in Peyton Place). Even though Elvis’ character Glenn has a girlfriend (played by Millie Perkins who played Elvis’ mother in the 1990s Elvis tv series and whom I met during Elvis Week when she signed my Wild in the Country book and later took a photo with me before dinner – she is super sweet), he manages to have a fling with his cousin (Tuesday Weld) who is in love with him while at the same time Glenn is falling in love with his psychiatrist (Hope Lange) who used to be in a relationship with the father of Glenn’s nemesis (played by Gary Lockwood who also starred in It Happened at the World’s Fair with Elvis) and who is on the parole board responsible for Glenn’s punishment. Told you it was quite the dramatic soap opera! Glenn’s psychiatrist brings out the writer in him and tries to get him into college, the town finds out about the forbidden affair between Glenn and his older psychiatrist and Glenn finds himself on trial for murdering his nemesis – the son of the man who used to date the woman he loves. I won’t tell you how it ends, but there are more twists and turns. Wild in the Country is really a great movie! Go watch it now! Oh and Joan Crawford’s daughter, Christina as in the author of Mommie Dearest, has a role role in it.
* BLUE HAWAII 1961
This is my sixth favorite Elvis movie. Angela Lansbury, who plays Elvis’ mother even though she was only 10 years older than him, is so hysterically funny in Blue Hawaii. Joan Blackman, who also costars with Elvis in Kid Galahad , plays Elvis’ love interest. Besides Shelley Fabares, Joan is my favorite Elvis costar. Floyd from The Andy Griffith Show also costars. Elvis plays Chad a tour guide who frequently sings. One of the girls he is a tour guide is played by Darlene Tompkins, and I have met her and gotten her autograph – very nice lady. Blue Hawaii was actually filmed in Hawaii and is just a fun movie – not too cheesy … yet.
FOLLOW THAT DREAM 1962
I know everyone loves this movie and thinks Elvis is funny in it, but it is definitely not one I watch over and over although I appreciate it now more than I used to. Elvis plays Toby who is out of the army on disability – again playing a guy out of the army. Toby and his dad and the orphans run out of gas on a Florida Highway and homestead right there on the beach, and a mob run casino moves in next to them. Mayhem ensues. Ann Helm and Joanna Moore costar. Although I’m not fan of this movie, I would still like to go to see where they filmed it in Florida.
* KID GALAHAD 1962
This is my fourth favorite Elvis Movie that doesn’t get much publicity and no one hardly ever talks about. Kid Galahad is a remake of a Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart movie from 1937. This is a very good dramatic movie with a real story line and some Elvis songs – not as few songs and as serious as Wild in the Country but less songs and less ‘fun’ than Blue Hawaii. Elvis plays Walter who (shocker!) is just out of the army and returns to his birthplace looking for work. Walter ends up a boxer working for a promoter Willy (played by Gig Young) who is in debt to the mob from gambling. Walter falls in love with Willy’s sister (played by Joan Blackman). Charles Bronson plays Walter’s trainer, and Ed Asner makes his screen debut as the Assistant District Attorney. (Ed Asner also appears a cop in Elvis’ last movie Change of Habit.) I met Michael Dante, who plays Joey Walter’s boxer friend, at Elvis Week when he signed his memoir for me – great guy! This is the last of Elvis’ movies that had an actual storyline until his last movies in 1968 and 1969. After Kid Galahad for the next 15 films, Elvis would pretty much that same goofy wisecracking playboy he played in GI Blues – but almost half of those are ones I watch repeatedly.
* GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS 1962
My seventh favorite Elvis Movie. In Girls Girls Girls, Elvis plays a fisherman and a singer. His passion is boating, so he makes money as a singer to buy a boat. Although it is not one of my favorite songs, Elvis’ performance of “Return to Sender” is one of my favorite movie song performances I think because Elvis looks SO DARN GOOD! In fact in this entire movie, Elvis looks even more amazing than usual with that fisherman’s cap, popped collar and rolling up sleeves. Sigh! Elvis’ hair is now dyed jet black in Girls Girls Girls and will remain that way. Laurel Goodwin (who I didn’t meet but got to see talk on the panel during Elvis Week) and Stella Stevens costar. This is Elvis’ second movie filmed in Hawaii.
* IT HAPPENED AT THE WORLD’S FAIR 1963
I have always liked this movie, but for no specific reason. It Happened at the World’s Fair was actually filmed in Seattle during the World’s Fair. When I went to Seattle, I was reminded that Elvis had stood in line at that very same monorail and also went up in the Space Needle. Elvis plays a pilot, but sings randomly throughout the film. He and his friend (played by Gary Lockwood who was also in Wild in the Country with Elvis and I got to see talk on the panel during Elvis Week) need money to pay their debts. Their plane is taken away for collateral, so they hitch a ride with a little girl and her uncle to the World’s Fair. The uncle gets lost, so they end up taking care of the little girl. Joan O’Brien and Yvonne Craig (who was in Kissin Cousins with Elvis) costar. Kurt Russell has two scenes with Elvis as a boy who kicks Elvis in the shin – twice.
FUN IN ACAPULCO 1963
For whatever reason, Fun in Acapulco is not one of my favorites, except I do like the “Bossa Nova” performance and the opening scene with Elvis wearing the same outfit he did in Girls Girls Girls – I love him in that fisherman’s hat! Ursula Andress plays Elvis’ love interest, and I have heard that in real life Elvis didn’t like her because she was too big (not petite). But then I think Ursula dated James Dean and he was smaller than Elvis and Elvis loved James Dean, so I wonder why Elvis didn’t like Ursula just for the James Dean factor. Floyd from The Andy Griffith Show again costars. Elvis plays a singer and a lifeguard who tries to learn how to high dive to overcome his fear of heights from a high wire family accident from his childhood. The dives were filmed in Mexico, but not with Elvis because they couldn’t manage the crowds (after the craziness at the World’s Fair in Seattle), so Elvis did not film in Mexico.
KISSIN COUSINS 1964
This is not one of Elvis’ best films. Kissin Cousins is actually pretty dumb. Elvis again plays an army guy who goes to the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee to take land away from his cousins – and Elvis also plays his blonde cousin. It is the same Dad from Follow That Dream. Elvis’ love interests are Cynthia Pepper (whom I’ve met and really like) and Yvonne Craig (who also had a bit part in It Happened at the World’s Fair). I always though this one should have been titled Double Trouble.
* VIVA LAS VEGAS 1964
Everyone loves Viva Las Vegas, and it is one I watch a lot but it is not in my Top Ten Elvis movies. I think, like the Colonel, there was too much Ann Margret in it. Not only did she sing with Elvis on more than one song, she had two SOLOS (remember when she was making those sandwiches?). I do like the soundtrack a lot though. Elvis plays a race car driver who sings in a contest to win money to get his engine for his car for the big race.
* ROUSTABOUT 1964
I really like this movie and its soundtrack. Roustabout is my 9th favorite Elvis movie. Elvis plays a motorcycle driver and singer who works at a traveling carnival with Barbara Stanwyck’s character. Joan Freeman plays Elvis’ love interest in Roustabout, and this was Raquel Welch’s movie debut.
* GIRL HAPPY 1965 *
This is THE movie, my favorite Elvis movie since I was little. Yes Girl Happy is one of Elvis’ cheesy Elvis gets girl Elvis loses girl Elvis sings songs beach movie, but I just love it! And I’m pretty sure why I love it so much and it’s still my favorite is because when I was little I loved hearing Elvis say my name over and over in it. One of Elvis’ love interests is named DEENA (played by Mary Ann Mobley who also stars with Elvis in Harum Scarum). I can’t tell you how excited it makes me to hear Elvis say my name, call my name – sigh! I met Mary Ann Mobley (and got her autograph) and told her my story and she imitated Elvis saying Deena like he did to her in the movie. She was so sweet! I also met Chris Noel and got her autograph. But I have yet to meet Shelley Fabares, the one I most want to meet (who also starred in Spinout and Clambake with Elvis and also tv shows I loved: The Donna Reed Show, Coach and One Day at a Time). Shelley Fabares is definitely my favorite Elvis costar. Gary Crosby, Bing Crosby’s son, costars with Elvis – and I love Bing Crosby! Elvis plays Rusty Wells, who is a singer paid by his Chicago boss to go to Ft. Lauderdale on Spring Break to keep an eye on his daughter Valerie (played by Shelley Fabares) and not let any guys near her and instead of course Rusty falls in love with Valerie (after first pursuing Deena). Girl Happy is one soundtrack I listen to over and over again. I actually love “Do the Clam” and “Ft. Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce” – and of course “Spring Fever,” “Girl Happy,” “Puppet on a String,” “Do Not Disturb” and “Cross My Heart and Hope to Die.” Girl Happy is like Grease to me, like home. I know it so well it brings me comfort. I watch it repeatedly as I have the dvd and have it downloaded on my phone and kindle fire.
TICKLE ME 1965
This is a terrible movie with a great soundtrack. Actually it wasn’t a true soundtrack as previously released songs were used in Tickle Me. Elvis plays a rodeo worker, but when the rodeo isn’t in town yet he gets a job as a singer and horse caretaker at a diet ranch for girls. Not a great plot, but I could deal with it if it weren’t for the weird fantasy and haunted house sequences – just weird. Julie Adams and Jocelyn Lane costar, and Elvis has a fight scene with Red West.
HARUM SCARUM 1965
Even though Mary Ann Mobley (from Girl Happy) costars in Harum Scarum, it is a terrible movie, but it has a great soundtrack. Elvis plays a Singer / Actor who makes Sheik movies and is invited to the desert but gets kidnapped until he promises to kill the King but Elvis’ character refuses and instead falls in love with the King’s daughter played my Mary Ann Mobley.
* FRANKIE AND JOHNNY 1966
This is my 10th favorite Elvis Movie, tied with Clambake. I think I like Frankie and Johnny because as it is set at the turn of the century it is different from the rest of the movies Elvis was doing at the time. And there is a lot of Jerry Schilling in it! He is prominently featured in many scenes, the best of which is the gambling scene where Elvis’ character loses his money at roulette. The movie is loosely based on the song. Elvis plays a riverboat singer Johnny who is a gambler. Johnny spends time with his boss’ girlfriend Nellie Bly (played by Nancy Kovack) because a gypsy told him a red head would bring him luck. Johnny’s girlfriend, Frankie (played by The Beverly Hillbillies‘ Donna Douglas) becomes jealous. Harry Morgan (Colonel Potter from tv’s MASH) costars. Harry Morgan’s character writes a song for a production on the riverboat and the song is of course “Frankie and Johnny” where Frankie shoots Johnny after seeing him with Nelly Bly. This movie gets panned a lot, but I actually like it and find it refreshing.
* PARADISE HAWAIIAN STYLE 1966
Not a popular opinion, but I really like this movie and have watched it often over the past few years as it was one of first Elvis movies available on Itunes and amazon digital back in the day. It is my eighth favorite Elvis Movie. Elvis plays a pilot who flies tourists around Hawaii. He is in business with his friend, but he keeps getting in trouble. This is Elvis’ third movie filmed in Hawaii. There is a dumb scene in a helicopter with Elvis, Julie Parish and a lot of dogs, but I think it is very funny because I’m a dog lover and the dogs are so cute and so funny. I didn’t meet Julie Parish, but I saw her speak at the Elvis Memorial Service George Klein puts on (either the 25th or 30th). Suzanna Leigh (who sadly just passed away after a long battle with cancer) played Elvis’ love interest. I talked with Suzanna at length at the Days Inn about 10 years ago or so. She signed her book for me and actually gave me her contact information as I was looking for a job so I could move to Memphis. She was a really nice lady.
I really want to like Spinout more than I do because it costars my favorite Shelley Fabares, but the plot is just too dumb. Although it is cool Shelley Fabares’ character’s Dad is played by Carl Betz who played her Dad on The Donna Reed Show. Diane McBain also costars. (I have her book, and she has a really interesting story.) Elvis plays a singer with a traveling band and a race car drive. Three women are after him and want to marry him. I used to get Spinout confused with Speedway, which I like even less.
EASY COME, EASY GO 1967
This is not a great movie, but I don’t hate it – I actually like it quite a bit and it’s soundtrack. I don’t like the whole hippie aspect of it, just because to me it doesn’t go with Elvis (and I’m sure he didn’t like that part either). Although I do enjoy the performance of “Sing Your Children Sing.” Elvis plays a navy man diving for buried treasure. Dodie Marshall and Pat Priest costar, as does Schneider from One Day at a Time.
DOUBLE TROUBLE 1967
I used to get this movie confused with Kissin Cousins, because of the title, but it is WAY worse. I just think a movie about twins should be called Double Trouble – plus the poster for the movie has twin Elvises on it. Anyway in Double Trouble, Elvis plays a singer with two girls, a killer and jewel thief chasing him in England. Annette Day and Yvonne Romain costar.
* CLAMBAKE 1967
Yes I like Clambake. In fact it’s tied with Frankie and Johnny for my 10th favorite Elvis movie. Yes there is no accounting for taste. Maybe there is no rhyme or reason to why I like one Elvis movie over another, but I do like Clambake – except for the “Confidence” scene. I probably like it mostly because Shelley Fabares costars in it. This is the third time Shelley plays Elvis’ love interest. Shelley is the only actress to costar in three movies with Elvis. Bill Bixby also costars. Elvis plays a rich oil trust fund baby race boat driver who switches places with a poor ski instructor. Shelley Fabares’ character wants a rich guy and goes after Bill Bixby’s character but of course ends up falling in love with Elvis’ character and then finds out he is rich. Jerry Schilling is prominently in the background at the bar and on the beach up against a tree making out with a girl as Elvis walks by. Lee Majors (as in The Six Million Dollar Man) is disguised as a waiter. This is always a hated movie, but it’s not that bad (better than Spinout and many others) and contains the beautiful song “You Don’t Know Me.”
STAY AWAY JOE 1968
I can’t with this one. True I don’t like Westerns, but Stay Away Joe is beyond terrible. Elvis plays a Native American guy in the rodeo. Burgess Meredith and Joan Blondell costar.
I don’t know why I am not a fan of this movie, maybe I need to watch it more. Nancy Sinatra costars with Elvis in Speedway and does have a song of her own, which bugs me. Bill Bixby (from Clambake) again costars with Elvis. Elvis plays a race car driver – there are actual NASCAR drivers in Speedway. Elvis’s character owes back taxes and Nancy Sinatra’s character is with the IRS (who also sings in nightclubs apparently).
LIVE A LITTLE LOVE A LITTLE 1968
The best part about Live a Little Love a Little is the dog Albert and the performance of “A Little Less Conversation.” There is controversy over whether the dog was actually Elvis’ Great Dane Brutus. Elvis plays a photographer and his dad Vernon has a cameo. I think why I dislike this movie is because I cannot stand Elvis’ costar Michele Carey’s character. She is so annoying and everything I detest about the stereotypical manipulative, needy woman. But it is cool that Darrin from Bewitched and Rudy Vallee also costarred. Elvis looked absolutely beautiful in this movie, even more so than usual.
True I don’t like Westerns, but Elvis looks SO darn good in this one! Plus Elvis doesn’t sing at all. “Charro” is played during the credits. This is a real western, not like Flaming Star and Stay Away Joe. In fact, Charro! was originally made for Clint Eastwood. Ina Balin costars.
THE TROUBLE WITH GIRLS 1969
I never really gave this movie much thought over the years, but I actually like The Trouble with Girls now. And Elvis looks amazing in it – especially his sideburns! Spectacular! Cindy from The Brady Bunch and Buffy from Family Affair are in it, and Marlyn Mason (whom I’ve seen speak at two Elvis events), Dabney Coleman and Vincent Price costar. Elvis plays the boss of a traveling show in the 1920s.
* CHANGE OF HABIT 1969
This was Elvis’ last movie. Elvis just looks SO beautiful in it! In Change of Habit, Elvis plays a doctor (which I’m sure he loved) in the ghetto (pun intended). This is such a departure for Elvis, and a welcome one. Change of Habit is an actual drama with a real story line – his only socially conscious movie dealing with race relations (with maybe the exception of Flaming Star). One of my favorite lines is after hearing a racist comment they say, “It seems our neighbors are Catholics. Too bad they’re not Christians.” Elvis’ character Dr. John Carpenter (an alias Elvis actually used in real life along with John Burrows) runs a free clinic where three disguised nuns (played by Mary Tyler Moore, Barbara McNair and Jane Elliot – who went on to play Tracy Quartermaine on General Hospital for years) help him try to make the neighborhood a better place. Of course Elvis’ character falls in love with Mary Tyler Moore’s character because he doesn’t know she’s a nun. Ed Asner plays a policeman. This was the first pairing of Ed and Mary and a bit of foreshadowing as they would be star together in The Mary Tyler Moore Show the following year. My favorite parts are the performances of “Rubberneckin,” “Let Us Pray” and the incognito “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” when Elvis’ character says “I’m from Shelby County Tennessee” and of course the football scene with Elvis wearing the UT Memphis sweatshirt that I now have a replica of thanks to Beth Hilton. Change of Habit has become one of my favorite Elvis movies moving up to my eighth favorite Elvis movie. I just got the huge FTD very details book about the making of Change of Habit, so I am sure I will have more insights to share. After watching it again after reading the book, I noticed A Martinez in one of the first scenes running down the street chasing the woman – A Martinez as in CRUZ CASTILLO from Santa Barbara.