Live a Little, Love a Little
Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, starred in 31 motion pictures between 1956 and 1969. He did it because he loved movies, and his management loved money. Every movie rolled out with a tie-in album that promised a lucrative pot of gold, and while Mr. Presley desired to be another Brando, his management fashioned him instead as a low rent James Dean. A rebel with a cause, and that cause was a bag covered in dollar signs.
I’ve been watching through the Elvis filmography the last couple of months, half because I find dated cultural artifacts fascinating and half because I’m a total glutton for punishment. The films he’s mostly remembered for are big gaudy musicals like Jailhouse Rock and Viva Las Vegas, but these are, politely, the tip of the iceberg.
Usually he’s a pretty typical character: race car driver/airplane pilot/bon vivant who is a part time singer and a bit of a sex machine who gets himself in a bit of trouble. If I told you there was a film where Elvis was fighting his brother in the Civil War, would you be surprised? One where he was mistaken for a spy and chased around the world? One where he plays a Native American in redface? One where he plays a dual role and both Elvises chase around a bunch of sexy bumpkins through the Appalachians?
And I’m only listing out ones that I’ve seen. For all I know, there’s an Elvis movie out there where he plays a giant poodle. Hell, this one comes close.
I’m not going to write about every Elvis movie for TarsTarkas.Net, but I wanted to highlight a few of the most unbelievable. Because maybe if someone believed me when I talk about these films, if someone else knew the pain involved in just how bad some of these are… maybe they won’t be quite so painful.