Elvis Films FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the King of Rock 'n' Roll in Hollywood (Faq Series) Paperback – 30 Nov 2013
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About the Author
<strong>Paul Simpson</strong> (Shepperton, UK) is the author of <em>The Rough Guide to Elvis, 397 Ways to Pick a Movie</em>, and <em>The Rough Guide to Westerns</em>. Simpson was the launch editor of soccer magazine <em>FourFourTwo</em>. He has edited magazines about design, management, and popular science. He now edits <em>Champions</em>, the official magazine of the UEFA Champions League. This is his 14th book and, after the publication of his first Elvis book, was described as a “masterly analyst” by the <em>Washington Post</em>.
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Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
author can write, man....damm, I'm jealous about his command of this subject ...but he neeeds to read my reviews of KISSIN' COUSINS and TICKLE ME to realize they look really good today and had alot goin' fer 'em.
we also are treated to some very interesting behind the scenes details about the co-stars' experiences, where they are today; directors', writers'. opinion son Elvis acting abilities and what coulda-shoulda. mostly new to me, a fan since 1964. an especially interesting section covers how the two guys generally thought toe out for $$$$ only, Hal Wallis, and Colonel Parker, actually *were* concerned about the decline in *not only* the bottom line..but the screenplay "lines".
less keen are the usual Q & As, commonly available, if you like staying up to 2:45am and hanging on the net, to learn if Elvis' real life doggie was featured in LIVE A LITTLE, LOVE A LITTLE.
But, the book does have some faults: credits the movie studio and production team that produced "Clambake" on producing "Easy Come, Easy Go," one of Elvis's worst movie (along with "Clambake"), makes a minor harp on the age of Elvis's character in "Clambake" to Elvis's real age (27 vs 32) - there's no rule a character in a fictional movie has to be the same age as the actor playing him or her. If you're going to nitpick over five years, which isn't that much of an age difference, what do you do when you come across an actor or actress with a real age difference between their real age and the character they play? Like 33 year old Barbra Streisand playing 20ish in the remake of "A Star Is Born." Streisand was only five years younger than Kristofferson and yet she was supposed to be the young, up and coming superstar in love with washed up and old Kristofferson. Streisand was stretching and she wasn't believeable. I, for one, am glad Elvis didn't make that movie with her.
What I would like to have seen in the book was more info on the behind the scenes, deleted scenes, a where are they now on Elvis's costars, living and deceased - information about them before and after Elvis and how they felt about working with Elvis. But, maybe another book will come along about that. But, this book is worth your time and money for what is in there and it's an easy read. Buy it and then rewatch most of Elvis's movies. There's not that many that are unwatchable.
I like how the writer points out many scenes from Elvis' movies that sparkle on their own, be it a co-stars performance when being sung to, like Joan Blackman when Elvis sings 'Home is Where the Heart Is', or the love scene between Elvis and Hope Lange in 'Wild in the Country'. When these scenes are pointed out, I know right away what he's talking about, but never thought about the reason for it until the writer goes into the reason.
It's great to know, as the writer pointed out, that there are some die-hard fans of 'Tickle Me', as I am. However, I guess I'm the only one on the planet that has 'Stay, Away Joe' as his all-time favorite movie, not Elvis movie, but movie. Just like the writer points out that Stephen Spielberg told Teri Garr that 'Viva Las Vegas' was his all time favorite movie.
Okay, I'll let the writer tell you the rest. If you a fan of any Elvis more, or his songs, or of Elvis, get this book because there is enough behind the movie and the music recording scenes to make all fans happy.
One thing to keep in mind; you don't necessarily have to be an Elvis fan to enjoy the book. If you're an all-around movie fan you'll encounter all sorts of interesting factoids and side-stories pertaining to other films and stars of that era (50's thorugh 70's).
The first few chapters examine each film individually and are nicely grouped into four distinctive periods. There is a general overview of the chosen time frame and then a detailed look at each film.
These key chapters take up the first 130 pages of the book.
While there is, of course, a real fascination as Elvis’ early film career develops how Simpson found enough enthusiasm to write in detail about Elvis’ awful mid-to-late 60s movies is pretty impressive. He even finds some positives about the dreadful ‘Double Trouble’ and ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’!
The real enjoyment of this book is the deep exploration of all facets of Elvis’ movie career. Simpson really does seem to try and cover most reader’s questions in the extensive 65 chapters examining everything from ‘Did Col Parker really provide any Technical Advise’ to ‘What do You do When You’re Asked to Write A Song Called ‘A Dog’s Life’.
In the book Simpson not only looks for blame in Elvis’ terrible mid-sixties period movies – and it is certainly not all of Colonel Parker’s fault - but also examines the reasons for the triumphs of Elvis’ best movies.
His detailed investigation into the influence of Hal Wallis throughout Elvis’ film career both good (King Creole, Blue Hawaii etc) and bad (Easy Come, Easy Go etc) is very interesting.
The book is honest, very detailed, and extremely well researched and best of all a very enjoyable read. The book also features a nice selection of photos to illustrate the narrative.
Simpson also looks at Elvis’ soundtrack music in depth and discusses whether the importance of it in Elvis’ movies was good or bad – and amusingly also looks at some of the crazy aspects of it.
Some of the more off-beat & interesting themes that Simpson explores are…
- The King's Consorts: Elvis's Leading Ladies and the Part They Played in His Life
- The Last Farewell: Proof That Elvis's Movies Could Damage Careers
- Something in the Way He Moves: Elvis the Dancer
- "Your Time Hasn't Come Yet, Baby": Child Stars in the King's Movies
- The King's New Clothes: Presley as a Fashion Icon
- Pieces of My Life: Were the Movies Elvis's Autobiography?
- "Elvis Cannot Be Fat or Pudgy Looking": The Continuing Struggle over the King's Weight
- The 50 Percent Men: The Abundance of Svengali Parker Figures in Elvis Movies
- Girls! Girls! Girls!: Elvis as a Very Chaste Kind of Super Stud
- There's So Much World to See: The Elvis Travelogues
Perhaps the real triumph of this book was that it actually makes me want to revisit these Elvis films that I’ve seen too many times already – yes, even the dreadful ones like Double Trouble.
Some fascinating new trivia is revealed along the way.
Another positive of this new book is that Simpson adjusts Elvis’ movies earnings and budgets to compare to today’s figures which really helps one understand the relevance of Elvis’ films in the marketplace at the time.
The book also provides some interesting insights into the movies and how they fitted into Elvis’ own personal journey.
Simpson’s writing is often humorous and found myself laughing out loud at times. The book is a very enjoyable read unlike some other investigative essays which can seem a little dry and factual at times.
Finally there is over 75 pages dedicated to a very detailed look at Elvis’ film music, the great over-looked songs, the dreadful songs and how the soundtrack albums were both good and bad for his career.
In the end ‘Elvis Films FAQ’ is a marvellous examination of our hero as he created one successful movie after another and with perfect timing finally escaping his movie contracts at the right point.
It is after all likely that the all-important Memphis Sessions would not have occurred had Elvis’ later films been better produced.
Director Cameron Crowe neatly explains the appeal of the Elvis Film... , "Elvis' catalogue of 31 movies is never less than fascinating, even when he was banging out three a year and barely keeping track of which girl, animal, car, co-star, or guitar he was performing with. Either a performer has built-in screen presence or he doesn't. Most don't. Elvis did, every time he stepped in front of the big glowing camera."
Overall verdict: ‘Elvis Films FAQ’ is one of the most enjoyable books I have read this year. If you are interested in Elvis’ film career, as well as wanting to learn some new and fun trivia, then this is the book for you. Paul Simpson has examined every angle of Elvis’ film career and writes about it in a very engaging and enjoyable style. The real triumph of this book is that it will make you want to watch all of Elvis’ films one more time! Highly recommended.
For the full review and interview with the author - check out the Elvis Information Network. www.ElvisInfoNet.com
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