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The good, the not so good and the pretty bad of Presley's films
on 16 May 2011
This collection of Elvis's movies is very interesting.
Elvis could be quite a good actor when the material was solid and he firmly displays this in several films here. In some of his later films the King looked quite bored, the stories and scripts were not too good, the flicks looked cheap and rushed and the songs were poorer.
In this set;
Love Me Tender (1956) - The only Elvis movie which is kinda' above serious critique. It was his first film, the story is ambitious, the settings are lovely and the songs are good. Elvis looks full of spunk and enthusiasm and all others are very competent. It sorta' doesn't matter that much that Elvis is in no way convincing as a cowboy and the musical moments are awkward, clumsy and in no way convincing in this era in time. The film goes for a dramatic ending and it gets a huge plus for that - it's hard not to be touched by it in some way.
Flaming Star (1960) - This film is a good example of how Elvis's movie career could have turned out. A first rate director (Don Siegel), working with a decent script and a good cast delivered one of the King's best movies. Elvis is fine as Pacer Burton - a halfbreed caught in the middle in a war between Kiowa indians and white folks. Great scope photography - solid (but very few) songs and plenty of action; Flaming Star is a very good movie in most respects.
Wild in the Country (1961) - In between lightweight material such as "G.I. Blues" and "Blue Hawaii" Presley was allowed to make movies he was more interested in. "Flaming Star" and "Wild in the Country" were closer to what Elvis wanted and here he gives a splendid performance as a rebellious youth who's blessed with great literary talent. A solid movie with some good dramatic impact at times, good songs and terrific performances by all involved.
Follow That Dream (1962) - Somewhat an oddity in the Presley canon of films; a unique comedy that delves into slapstick territory and throws in a good dose of social commentary in the end that's very well played out. Elvis is simply terrific as the somewhat dim witted son of a stern father who tries to build a life for his family in Florida. But Elvis's character isn't all the he seems - his simple look at life has some good depth and very good wisdom, exellently played out in the final scenes of this very pleasent film. Great songs here as well.
Kid Galahad (1962) - Apparently Elvis wanted Michael Curtiz to direct this update of this own 1937 film. Having already worked with Curtiz on "King Creole", Elvis knew of his skills. But the established formula of "G.I. Blues" and "Blue Hawaii" proved to be the route Presley's films would follow. As is here; "Kid Galahad" has a serious story, a decent script, very good actors and incredibly beautiful scenery throughout - but somewhat bogged down by too many musical numbers that keep this firmly a Presley musical and little else. Elvis does look surprisingly good as a boxer though.
Frankie and Johnny (1966) - Neither here nor there. A fluff movie, with a lot of musical numbers - not bad for undemanding Presley enthusiasts but it's one of those later Presley flicks that gave his movie career a bad name.
Clambake (1967) - Another fluff movie, with a better cast though (Bill Bixby and Shelley Fabares). Here you can clearly see the filmmakers saving a buck or two. Probably 90% here is done indoors with bad screen projection throuhgout. Elvis looks bored, the songs are very subpar and it's strangely long winded and lifeless. While some of Elvis's later flicks were very similar, some of them (Speedway, Spinout, Double Trouble, Girl Happy to name a few) had beautiful scenery, very tounge in cheek humor and lively musical numbers.
This set showcases Elvis's films quite well. It's got the good, the not so good and the pretty bad all wrapped up in a neat package. The lesser Presley films can always be enjoyed to an extent for a fan of his.