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
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)
Well, I can finally say that I’m in no-man’s land as far as these films are concerned. With The British Invasion in full swing and the quality of these films going down, down, down, Elvis was starting to lose his patience and it shows. In fact, he hated the music he was forced to record for Girl Happy so much he refused to record any new songs for several months after—and I can’t say I blame him. As a result, all of the songs in Tickle Me are just recycled from previous recordings.
As for me, well, I’ve now watched eighteen Elvis films—that’s more than halfway through—and I’m finally starting to feel some fatigue. On one hand, I’m really enjoying how much Elvis knowledge I’ve acquired; I find myself able to have conversations with people I know in which I drop a ton of Elvis facts with ease and confidence, and watch them respond in turn with polite nods and glances at their watches. Well, after these next two films, I too was looking at my watch. The year is 1965, and as dopey as I thought Help! was, these next two make it look like a lost Spielberg epic.
Continue reading Jenna Does Elvis #9 – Girl Happy (1965) / Tickle Me (1965)
I’ve hit another milestone—Viva Las Vegas! Now we’re getting into Elvis’ second wind, as both of the following films include well-known leading ladies—Ann-Margret in Vegas and Barbara Stanwyck in Roustabout. I’ve gotta say, having at least one other good actor in these Elvis movies improves them tenfold. Elvis isn’t bad on his own, but when he’s surrounded by blandness—in the script and otherwise—he tends to turn off. These films aren’t going to win a MENSA award anytime soon, but you’d think the producers would have made more of an effort to keep them enjoyable. Both Ann-Margret and Barbara Stanwyck really help elevate both films into the ‘watchable’ category:
Continue reading Jenna Does Elvis #8 – Viva Las Vegas (1964) / Roustabout (1964)