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The Elvis Movies [Hardcover]

James L. Neibaur

Price: 27.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

16 April 2014
Elvis Presley's stature as the "King of Rock and Roll" will never be challenged. Between his first RCA hit single in 1956-the number-one smash "Heartbreak Hotel"-and his death in 1977, Elvis amassed more than 100 hits on the music charts. Presley's dominance on the music chart was paralleled only by the singer's motion picture career. Between 1956 and 1969, Elvis appeared in more than thirty films, further cementing his place as one of the most popular entertainers of the twentieth century. While there have been countless books that explore the real Elvis tucked beneath layers of showbiz mythology, such volumes often dismiss his motion picture career as insignificant or overlook his onscreen work entirely. In The Elvis Movies, James L. Neibaur looks at the thirty-one features that Presley made, from Love Me Tender in 1956 to Change of Habit in 1969. Most of these were star vehicles tailor-made for his image. As Neibaur points out, Elvis had a real interest in being a good actor, but his initial promise was soon thwarted by anti-creative decisions that sold a packaged version of the singer. Despite lapsing into a predictable formula of lightweight musicals, Elvis Presley's star power ensured that the films became box office successes. Neibaur examines each film, providing information about their production and offering assessments about their value in general, as well as their place in the Presley canon. Additional details include behind-the-scenes personnel, costars, DVD availability, and featured hit songs. An entertaining and informative look at an often underrated aspect of the singer's career, The Elvis Movies offers readers insight into his films. This volume will be a welcome resource to fans of the singer who want to know more about the King and his successful ventures on the big screen.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (16 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442230738
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442230736
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 16.1 x 2.7 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 942,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Neibaur reveals a side of Elvis Presley's career that is often overlooked, and does so in a way that is sure to change the mind of anyone who dismisses it as unimportant in film history. This book, with its numerous interviews, behind-the-scenes info, and Neibaur's added insight, will both inform and delight both longtime Elvis fans and those who are only just discovering his brilliance. Neibaurs book is well written...[H]e makes the history of Elvis Presley's film career comprehensible...A very readable book, a wonderful addition to the other, is very recent publications on the film career of Elvis Presley. The Memphis Flash Throughout the 1950s and 1960s Elvis Presley starred in over thirty movies with most dismissed as lighthearted vehicles to help sell the accompanying soundtrack albums...However, they were a major part of Elvis' career and have often been overlooked in print with very few books examining his movie career. Fortunately that has now been corrected with the publication of James L. Neibaur's latest book, The Elvis Movies. Neibaur, a film historian, is well qualified to write such a book as his previous work has included studies of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harry Langdon, among others. In The Elvis Movies he offers in-depth and critical discussions about each movie starting with Love Me Tender in 1956 and ending with Change Of Habit in 1969...Besides the details of each film (producers, directors, actors, actresses, songs, box office gross etc) Neibaur examines the impact the movies had on Elvis's career and popular culture at the time. By including chapters on The Rise of Elvis Presley, Elvis In The Army, The Comeback Special and The Final Years Neibaur also tracks the evolution of Elvis's career and personal life. The book is also illustrated with movie stills, posters and trade ads which help illustrate the story...The Elvis Movies reveals an often overlooked aspect of Elvis Presley's career in a way that should change the mind of those who dismiss it as unimportant in the history of film and is highly recommended. Peter Lewry - Official Blog

About the Author

James L. Neibaur is a film historian and educator who has written hundreds of articles, including more than forty essays in the Encyclopedia Britannica. He is the author of several books on film, including The Fall of Buster Keaton (2010), Chaplin at Keystone (2012), The Silent Films of Harry Langdon (2012), and The Charley Chase Talkies (2013), and coauthor with Terri Niemi of Buster Keaton's Silent Shorts: 1920-1923 (2013), all published by Scarecrow Press.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book and VERY highly recommended! 10 April 2014
By Bob Furmanek - Published on
I received this book today and I'm very impressed with it.

Having been an Elvis fan since 1968, I've read a great deal about the man and his music over the past 46 years. Just thumbing through this book, I can see that it contains a lot of new information which has not been printed before.

Mr. Neibaur puts each film into proper perspective. Through interviews with co-stars and people behind the scenes, you get a very strong sense of Elvis' growing frustration over his career path with each new film. He could have done so much more, but the tremendous success of the "travelogue" formula was a chain that he could not break. The 1972 quotes from Elvis reflecting on his Hollywood years was especially revealing, and terribly sad.

I enjoyed reading the period comments from theater owners and exhibitors. They help to paint a very vivid picture of just how popular these films were at the time. I've had the opportunity to see theatrical revivals of about a dozen in 35mm over the past few decades, and those comments certainly support how much fun audiences had seeing these movies on the big screen. They were guaranteed money in the bank and a showman's dream come true. Elvis certainly had charisma and his screen presence does not really translate when watching these films at home on television. Even in the worst of them when he was on auto-pilot, his talent shines through.

With just a few exceptions, the movies never really captured the essence of Presley. His music is still the place to go if you want to discover his musical genius for the first time. However, the movies were enormously popular and gave audiences around the world the opportunity to see Elvis bigger than life at their local theater.

In conclusion, if you were fortunate to be there at the time or if you're wondering just what the Elvis phenomenon was all about, pick up this book. You will not be disappointed!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elvis on the big screen—read all about it 23 April 2014
By Ted Okuda - Published on
For some, the King of Rock and Roll’s celluloid exploits fall into two categories: JAILHOUSE ROCK and Every Other Elvis Picture. But this flip assessment isn’t accurate or fair, as Jim Neibaur’s THE ELVIS MOVIES goes to great lengths to illustrate. Granted, there is an inescapable sense of squandered potential that permeates formula affairs like HARUM SCARUM and STAY AWAY, JOE. Yet there’s much to admire and enjoy in FLAMING STAR, KING CREOLE, JAILHOUSE ROCK, VIVA LAS VEGAS, LOVING YOU and others.

For those who might question whether Elvis’ filmography worthy of a book-length study, the answer is yes. Even the weakest efforts reveal a lot about how a “commodity” like Elvis was molded and marketed for consumption by the general public. By closely examing each film in chronological order, Neibaur underscores how Presley’s desire to grow as an actor and artist was thwarted by the success of his lighter “make ’em fast, make ’em cheap” fare. G.I. BLUES, for example, made more money than the superior if atypical FLAMING STAR.

Providing plenty of production data, quotes from associates, and critical evaluations, THE ELVIS MOVIES does an excellent job of examining the peaks and valleys that constituted Presley’s film career. And despite popular consensus, there were definite peaks. While Elvis certainly had his share of clinkers, his best movies showcase his magnetic talent, evidence why he was (and continues to be) a revered, iconic entertainer.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Have for Every Elvis Fan! 28 April 2014
By James Zeruk, Jr. - Published on
Just when you think James L. Neibaur has reached the pinnacle of his prolific writing career, another excellent book of his rolls off the press. The Elvis Movies is an expertly written filmography which details the too-often-ignored B-side of the King's career ... acting! Neibaur points out that Elvis's movie career paralleled his musical accomplishments, yet his films are seen by many as a sort of underachievement. This book argues (quite successfully) that the Elvis films contain much more than just a handsome American icon leading pretty people into singing fun songs with happy dancing on the big screen. Neibaur gives us a well-researched history lesson of what went on behind the camera and under the music of the Elvis movies.

As one of the most respected filmography writers going, James L. Neibaur remains remarkably consistent. His style, insight, and knowledge of the subjects he covers in his many books and articles should be required reading in the film schools at USC and UCLA. If you are a serious fan of Elvis Presley, then The Elvis Movies is a book you surely must read. Indeed, read this book and you will likely become a fan of James L. Neibaur, too.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST for ALL Elvis Fans 2 Jun 2014
By Christopher Riordan - Published on
Naturally, I was anxious to read this book by Mr. Neibaur. Having worked with Mr. Presley seven (7) times, I wanted to see if the facts were correct. Obviously, research was done, and Mr. Neibaur got a hold of the right people.
It was fun, sad, and pleasurable, reading about all these pictures. I wish other authors did their homework this thoroughly.
In short, I loved the book; and am hoping to take it with me to the BIG Elvis Event in Collingwood, this July. I know the Elvis Fans well; and I'm sure they'd love to have a copy of this.
And, thank you, Mr. Neibaur, for mentioning me so kindly.
Christopher Riordan
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