Hip-Shakin’ Hollywood Heartthrob: Elvis at the Movies

Elvis in (L to R) Love Me Tender, Girls! Girls! Girls! and Jailhouse Rock

GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS! (1962)
This is probably the only other movie title, along with Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, featuring three exclamation points. Elvis is a singing shrimp captain in Hawaii, and a catch himself at that! — according to Laurel Goodwin and Stella Stevens, a hi-so rich girl and a nightclub singer, respectively. It’s better written than most of E’s movies, but still not all that interesting. The story revolves around a $10,000 boat and alternates between straight-faced romantic drama and broad comedy. In addition to GGG‘s only hit (“Return to Sender”) there’s a sea shanty about shrimp and a tango about the lighter side of domestic violence. There’s a lot of Polynesian kitsch to chew on too. It was Elvis’s eleventh feature.
**1/2 – Gill Man Recommended

JAILHOUSE ROCK (1957)
After he’s released from jail for a manslaughter charge (just protecting a woman’s honor of course) Elvis has an overnight rise to pop stardom. What follows is a cliche’d it’s-lonely-at-the-top-when-fame-makes-you-a-total-prick morality tale. Judy Tyler (who was Howdie Doodie‘s Princess Summerfall Winterspring ten years earlier!) is the agent slash love interest he ends up pissing off and winning back. It’s well executed but familiar — even for 1957. The titular rock-out sequence doesn’t take place in jail as I had always believed. The soundtrack also features some of my favorites including Leiber-and-Stoller-penned “Don’t Leave Me Now” and “Treat Me Nice.” This is Elvis’s third feature.
*** – Gill Man Recommended

LOVE ME TENDER (1956)
Elvis’s first movie is arguably his best. In it he’s the younger brother of a Confederate soldier everyone assumes is dead. While he was away, E married his girlfriend, thinking her fair game. Whoops! There’s lots of sibling drama peppered with fights and songs. There’s also some business about stolen Union gold and a double-cross. Elvis proves himself a more-than capable actor right out of the gate. Every once in awhile the action has to stop to exploit E with a song, including of course, the titular ballad. There’s some unintentional hilarity when swiveling hips and screaming girls make an appearance…in the CIVIL WAR ERA. Awesome. Savor this slice of the King in his dreamy prime.
*** – Gill Man Recommended

~ by Number5ive on March 23, 2007.

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