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
1:22:58 | View on iTunes | Download Mp3
On this episode, I am joined by fellow Smug Film contributors John D’Amico and Jenna Ipcar. We discuss an acting class John took, Jenna’s foray into the films of Steven Seagal, and for our main topic, we tackle the idea of homegrown cinema. As always, we go on tangents along the way, take a quick break for a movie joke by comedian Anthony Kapfer, and then close the show with questions from our mailbag.
If you have a movie-related question you’d like answered on the show, leave it in the comments or email us at Podcast@SmugFilm.com.
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Movie Stuff Referenced in this Episode:
Continue reading Smug Film Podcast Episode #7 – Acting Class / Steven Seagal / Homegrown Cinema
Joan Darling entered show business as an actress on the New York theater scene in the 1960s, then became a fixture of early 70’s television. In 1974, she made the leap from acting to directing and quickly made history as one of the first and most successful women directors in television. She had an instant knack for it—her debut, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, a soap opera parody, has become an enduring cult classic for its dark-edged humor and deep understanding of the desperation and sadness of the American home.
Highlights of her career include a Mary Tyler Moore episode, Chuckles Bites the Dust, which, for its deft tightrope-walk between comedy and pathos, TV Guide calls the greatest television episode ever; a classic M*A*S*H episode, The Nurses, which revolutionized the way the show portrayed women; and a leading role in an episode of The Psychiatrist, directed by a pre-Jaws, pre-Duel Spielberg.
These days, Joan teaches acting and directing classes at the Sundance Filmmakers Lab. She agreed to a phone interview, and in about an hour, I learned more about the arts of acting and directing than I ever thought possible:
Continue reading An Interview with Director and Actress Joan Darling, Pioneer of the 70’s