I’ve done it, guys—I did Elvis! To be specific, I did all 31 Elvis films, two a week, in about four months time. This has been a wild ride, and I thank all of you that have followed me through it.
If you remember, I set out on this journey with merely a passing fascination for Elvis, and a huge ambivalence toward his films. I finish this journey with now a plethora of Elvis film knowledge, an Elvis t-shirt, a vintage Elvis belt buckle (gifted to me randomly!), copies of both Peter Guralnick Elvis biographies (Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley) and a small collection of very attractive Elvis JPEGs saved on my desktop.
I like to think that this project has changed me for the better—I now know what it’s like to soar with Elvis at his highest highs, and cringe for him at his lowest lows. I did genuinely have a lot of fun with these; there’s something very watchable about these movies, which I can’t say for most crappy ‘60s films. I’m sure it would have been a different experience had I been there when they were coming out, but to view them as a retrospective has been a real trip.
Elvis was just fun—he embodied that pure, unfettered, visceral feeling of singing and dancing your heart out. It was that force that made sequin jumpsuits look cool and shaking your ass look manly. Heck, he even made womanizing look like fun for everyone. And his movies, like himself, were equally as unpretentious and easy to digest. While the plots were often inane and the music quality dropped severely throughout, you always came wanted to come back and see what Elvis was up to this time. Some of these are worth sitting through just for that one song, or that one performance, or one scene of Elvis kissing three brides on the mouth before he gives them away to their husbands on their wedding day. I now truly understand how Elvis became such a larger-than-life presence– that unachievable ideal that eventually brought Elvis himself to his knees.
But I digress. Lets take one last trip though Elvis film-review-land with his 31st and final film:
Continue reading Jenna Does Elvis #16 – Change of Habit (1969) / Complete Elvis Ranking
It’s the home stretch! After this post, I have only ONE Elvis movie left to go!
I’ve thus far neglected to really delve into the historical backdrop for these films—however, it is now 1969, and boy have we come a long way. When Elvis’ first film came out, in 1956, he was a mere 21 years old and had just debuted his “Hound Dog/ Don’t Be Cruel” single. Elsewhere in 1956, Norma Jean changed her name to Marilyn Monroe, Eisenhower got his second term, Grace Kelly became a princess, and the Supreme Court declared the Alabama Bus segregation laws illegal.
Now, in 1969, Nixon has become president, Neil Armstrong has taken one small step for man, Woodstock has burst onto the scene, The Beatles recorded Abbey Road, the Manson murders happened, and Don Draper had a zen moment on a California mountaintop.
Though the world has changed, Elvis has largely stayed the same—if you judged America solely by Elvis movies, you’d think we never made it past ’63. These last ones, however, are real wild cards:
Continue reading Jenna Does Elvis #15 – Charro! (1969) / The Trouble With Girls (1969)
Wow guys, this is really winding down. I have only five more Elvis movies left, and my heart is feeling a bit heavy.
Now we’re getting into 1968, better known as the year Elvis released his ’68 Comeback Special and blew away the entire world by not just for looking spectacular in an all black leather outfit, but for performing actually good music. If you haven’t watched the comeback special, I highly recommend it—this is Elvis live for the first time since 1960, and boy does he bring it. But, just before Elvis got his groove back, two movies came out before it that year:
Continue reading Jenna Does Elvis #14 – Speedway (1968) / Live a Little, Love a Little (1968)
When I first mentioned to Cody that I was going to start this project, his immediate reaction was “Have you seen Clambake!?” The title alone was enough to sell me, but no, I had not heard of this gloriously titled film. Cody couldn’t really remember what Clambake was about, just that it’s bizarre and fun, so all I could hope and expect was that it was just Elvis hangin’ all day at a sweet ass clambake, full of bikini-clad revelers, Beach Boys ripoff songs, and clams a-bakin’.
Well, I wasn’t too far off. Little did I know the horror that was lurking around the corner, though…
Continue reading Jenna Does Elvis #13 – Clambake (1967) / Stay Away, Joe (1968)
“I don’t know how you can manage to watch all these movies,” a friend said to me the other day.
“As long as you keep your expectations low and your interest in looking at Elvis’ ass in tight pants high, they’re not too bad,” I said. “They’re mostly under an hour and a half, at least.”
Continue reading Jenna Does Elvis #10 – Harum Scarum (1965) / Frankie & Johnny (1966)