Tag Archives: Elvis Presley

The New Gladiators

The New Gladiators is a documentary movie by Elvis Presley and Ed Parker centered on the fights of the United States Karate team in London, England and Brussels, Belgium. Narrated by Chuck Sullivan, it was filmed between 1973 and 1974 but finally remastered and later released in 2002. The movie was financed by American singer and actor Elvis Presley, who began to practice karate during his duty years in the United States Army.

In 1974, George Waite presented the idea of the film to Ed Parker, Presley’s karate instructor. In the film, Presley was playing the main role, introducing Karate arts divided in narration and demonstrations. Parker presented the idea to Presley, who subsequently liked the idea. There was a meeting organized at Graceland, but no major details were arranged due that Presley had to leave for travel to Las Vegas to perform on a show. The next Morning to the meeting, Presley called Waite and sent his private plane to take his wife and him to Vegas. During the show, Presley extended a $50,000 check for beginning the production of the film.

In 1977 after Presley’s death, the movie was stored in a garage in West Hollywood, in the bed of a truck along with other memorabilia objects. In 2001 the footage was found, restored and later released on August 17, 2002. On August 16, 2009 Elvis Presley Enterprises released a new version of the film with extra footage of Presley in Karate training sessions.

Elvis: That’s the Way It Is

Elvis: That’s the Way It Is is a documentary movie directed by Denis Sanders about Elvis Presley that was released on November 11, 1970. The film documents Elvis’ Summer Festival in Las Vegas during August 1970. It was his first non-dramatic film since the beginning his movie career in 1956, and the film gives us a clear view of Presley’s return to live performances after years of making movies. The original concept as devised by Colonel Tom Parker was in view of Elvis’s triumphant return to live performances was a closed circuit television presentation of one show but the concept developed into this movie. Although the lion’s share of the footage takes place onstage at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, there are several other parts to the film:

* The opening credits sequence contains footage of Elvis’ show at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix on September 9, 1970. This was the first show of Elvis’ first tour in 13 years.

* Elvis and his band are seen rehearsing for the Las Vegas engagement at MGM Studios in Culver City, California. There are scenes of Elvis running through such tunes as “I Just Can’t Help Believing”, “What’d I Say”, “Little Sister”, “Words”, “That’s All Right Mama”, and “The Next Step Is Love.” The rehearsal sequences were filmed during late July 1970.

* Later rehearsals show Elvis in Las Vegas with his back-up vocalists The Sweet Inspirations, Millie Kirkham and The Imperials Quartet, preparing songs such as “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water”.

* There is also a session of rehearsals that takes place in the Showroom Internationale of the International Hotel in Las Vegas. Together, Elvis and the entire group run through songs from “Mary In the Morning” to “Polk Salad Annie”. These rehearsals took place on August 7, 1970.

* Footage of an Elvis Appreciation Society convention in Luxembourg was shot on September 5, 1970. Radio Luxembourg DJs Tony Prince and Peter Aldersley are on hand to lead the festivities. A tandem bicycle owned by Elvis is raffled off to a lucky fan in the audience. Additionally, various musicians are seen performing their own versions of Elvis’ songs.

Change of Habit

Change of Habit is a 1969 musical drama film starring Elvis Presley and Mary Tyler Moore. It was Presley’s final acting role; his remaining two film appearances were concert documentaries. It was also Tyler Moore’s fourth and final film under her brief Universal Pictures contract; she wouldn’t appear in another theatrical movie until Ordinary People in 1980.

Dr. John Carpenter is a physician in a ghetto clinic who falls for a co-worker, Michelle Gallagher, unaware that she is a nun.

Elvis stars as a professional man for the first time in his career. Dr. Carpenter heads a ghetto clinic in a major metropolis. He is surprised to be offered assistance by three women. Unknown to him, the three are nuns in street clothing who want to aid the community but are afraid the local residents might be reluctant to seek help if their true identities were known.

Carpenter falls in love with Sister Michelle Gallagher, played by wholesome Mary Tyler Moore, but Sister Michelle’s true vocation remains unknown to Dr. Carpenter. She also has feelings for the doctor but is reluctant to leave the order. The film concludes with Sister Michelle entering a church to pray for guidance to make her choice.

As Dr. John Carpenter, Elvis stars as a professional man for the first time in his career. Dr. John Carpenter heads a clinic in a ghetto area of a major metropolis. He is surprised to be offered assistance by three women. Unknown to him, the three are nuns in street clothing who want to aid the community but are afraid the local residents might be reluctant to seek help if their true identities were known.

Carpenter falls in love with Sister Michelle Gallagher, played by wholesome Mary Tyler Moore, but Sister Michelle’s true vocation remains unknown to Dr. Carpenter. Sister Michelle also has feelings for the doctor, but she is reluctant to leave the order.

The film concludes with Sister Michelle entering a church to pray for guidance to make her choice – the church or Dr. Carpenter.

The Trouble With Girls

The Trouble with Girls (full title The Trouble with Girls (and How to Get Into It)) is a 1969 comedy film starring Elvis Presley. It was the only Elvis movie to have a subtitle in its name and is an odd mixture of music, comedy, and melodrama. The Trouble with Girls is unique for an Elvis Presley picture because Elvis is on screen for less than half the film.

The film takes place in a small Iowa town in 1927. A traveling chautauqua company arrives in the town, but internal squabbles create friction amidst the troupe. The new manager, Walter Hale (Elvis Presley), is trying to prevent Charlene, the troupe’s “Story Lady” (Marlyn Mason), from recruiting the performers to form a union.

Meanwhile, the town has a scandal following the murder of the local pharmacist Wilby (Dabney Coleman). Although a shady gambler is arrested, Walter realizes that the real killer is Nita (Sheree North), one of Wilby’s employees. Walter successfully gets Nita to confess during a chautauqua performance, where she makes public the sexual harassment that Wilby directed at her. Nita’s self-defense plea frees the wrongly jailed man, but Charlene is outraged that Walter used the crime to financially enrich the chautauqua.

In the end, Walter convinces Charlene of his ethics and morality, and she remains with the company.

The Trouble With Girls (And How To Get Into It)’ is a 1969 film starring Elvis Presley. It was the only Elvis movie to have a subtitle in its name. ‘The Trouble With Girls‘ is an odd mixture of music, comedy, and melodrama, The Trouble with Girls is unique for an Elvis Presley picture because Elvis is only on screen for about a third of the film. Elvis stars as Walter Hale, the manager of a traveling chautauqua. A chautauqua is a school that provides education combined with entertainment. Walter is beset with a number of problems as his show arrives in town for one week.

He worries that he might have to give the mayor’s untalented daughter the lead in the children’s pageant to stay in the mayor’s good graces. He must contend with his assistant, played by Marlyn Mason, who is constantly harping about the union rights of his employees. Finally, someone murders the local druggist, and a member of the chautauqua is accused. These loose ends are tied together during the final show, when Walter cannily reveals the killer’s identity and wins the heart of his pretty assistant.

Charro!

Charro! is a 1969 Western film starring Elvis Presley. It was among his final films, and his only role that didn’t feature the star singing on-screen (Flaming Star was not a musical, but he did sing one song onscreen), but Elvis does do the off-screen singing of the main title theme. Presley also sported a stubble beard, in contrast to being clean-shaven in all his other films. Co-starring with Elvis were Ina Balin and Victor French. It was also the only Elvis film released to theaters by National General Pictures. The film made a profit, but wasn’t a runaway success, and remains one of Presley’s least-seen films despite it being among his best in terms of a ‘straight’ (non-musical) acting performance.

Charro! was released to DVD for the first time in the summer of 2007. It marked the very first time that an uncut release of the film was presented to the retail market, and in its’ original wide-screen letterbox format. This DVD version underwent an extensive remastering process to restore the original 35mm filmprint quality. Previous VHS issues of the film, notably the 1990 Warner Home Video release, were of an inferior standard, mainly due to poor picture quality and minor edits throughout the movie. An oddity concerning Charro! is the film’s classification. Despite containing violence and partial nudity, it was released with an MPAA G rating, even though other Presley films from the 1968-69 period carry PG ratings. These latter releases are somewhat less ‘adult’ than Charro!.

Elvis Presley plays Jess Wade, a former member of a gang lead by Vince Hackett (Victor French). Hackett’s band steals a national treasure, a gold-plated Mexican cannon used by emperor Maximillian against popular leader Benito Juárez valued at $100,000 American dollars. The Mexican army offers a $10,000 reward, giving a description of one of the supposed gang members that could be recognized by his beard and a scar on his neck.

Jess returns to a small town he used to pass by. At a saloon he finds Tracey Winters (Ina Balin), a former love. Hackett decides to incriminate him as the robber because Jess meets most of the wanted poster’s descriptions. They find him in the saloon and take him to the desert, where Hackett uses a hot brand to mark Jess’s neck and complete the description.

With the Mexican army looking for the robber and the U.S Cavalry collaborating with them, Jess travels back to town. He visits the sheriff, Dan Ramsey, to make claim his innocence.

Arriving at the saloon is Billy Roy Hackett, Vince’s brother. He starts a rumble with Jess that ends up with the sheriff being shot by Billy Roy while trying to intervene. Billy Roy is incarcerated, with the threat of being hanged if the sheriff dies. Ramsey requests that Jess watch the jail.

Vince gives an ultimatum, demanding Jess set Billy Roy free or else he will begin firing on the town with a cannon. Vince’s gang starts by hitting Dan Ramsey’s house, causing his death after the roof falls over him.

Ramsey’s widow and the rest of the town people ask Jess to release Billy Roy. Jess locks the office and takes Billy Roy out by the back door as the mayor and citizens enter by the front. He goes to a hill where the cannon is located and begins a shootout against the gang, killing most of the Vince’s men.

Jess leaves Billy Roy tied up against a tree. The cannon rolls downhill, killing Billy Roy. Jess then returns the cannon to Mexico. He also takes Vince, to be judged.

Live a Little, Love a Little

Live A Little, Love A Little is a 1968 musical comedy starring Elvis Presley. It was directed by Norman Taurog, who had directed several previous Presley vehicles; this was his final film. It had a more mature tone than other Presley musicals, with coarse language, drug references, and an implied sexual encounter. The film introduced the song “A Little Less Conversation”; a later re-recording of it would form the basis of a remix that returned Presley to the American music sales charts in the early 2000s.

In Live A Little, Love A Little, Elvis Presley plays Greg Nolan, a newspaper photographer who lives a fun and carefree life. That is, until he meets a headcase named Bernice, who assumes different names and personalities whenever the mood hits her. She manages to lose his job and apartment after drugging him. However, she manages to find him another apartment, and he wants to pay her back. So he gets two photographer jobs: one at a Playboy-like magazine and the other at a very conservative magazine. He now has to manage balancing the two jobs along with dealing with Bernice and her odd ways.

Bernice manages to get him a new apartment, but it is so expensive that he has to take on two full-time jobs to make the payments.

As Greg hustles back and forth between the two photography jobs (one for a stuffy conservative publisher, and the other for a ‘girlie’ magazine) he still finds time to romance beautiful Celeste Yarnall and belt out two songs; Almost in Love and Wonderful World.

Speedway

Speedway is a 1968 action film musical film starring Elvis Presley as a racecar driver and Nancy Sinatra as his love interest.

Scenes were shot at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. The film features guest appearances by several of the top stock-car — better known now as NASCAR — drivers of the day.

This would be the final “formula” musical film of Presley’s career. His later films would be less musical and more adult in tone.

Although the film was completed in the early summer of 1967, it was not released in theatres until the spring of 1968. It was Elvis’s last real box-office hit.

Speedway is 1968 MGM car-racing film starring Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley, Nancy Sinatra and Bill Bixby costar in a musical comedy that features Elvis as stock-car champion Steve Grayson, a generous soul who is always sharing his winnings with people in need.

Partly due to his generosity and partly because of his manager’s love of gambling, Steve finds himself owing the government back taxes.

Sinatra costars as IRS agent Susan Jacks, while Bixby plays his bumbling manager, Kenny Donford. Susan attempts to put Steve on a budget that will allow him to pay off the government in installments. Steve tries to soften the all-business agent with romance and music, but she thinks him frivolous and irresponsible. But her tune changes when she realizes that Steve’s latest charity case is a former stock-car driver with five daughters who has fallen on hard times. Eventually Susan is able to keep Steve on a budget, while Steve is able to keep Susan on his arm.

Stay Away, Joe

In Stay Away, Joe, Elvis Presley stars as rodeo rider Joe Lightcloud, a Navajo whose family still lives on the reservation. Joe persuades his congressman to give him 20 heifers and a prize bull so he and his father, played by Burgess Meredith, can prove that the Navajos can successfully raise cattle on the reservation. If their experiment is successful, then the government will help all the Navajo people. But Joe’s buddy accidentally barbecues the prize bull, while Joe sells the heifers to buy plumbing and other home improvements for his stepmother, portrayed by Katy Jurado. Former leading lady Joan Blondell appears as tavern owner Glenda Callahan, whose daughter, played by Quentin Dean, can’t seem to stay away from the girl-chasing Joe.

Elvis Presley played a Native American for the second time in his career in the musical comedy Stay Away, Joe, based on a best-selling book by Dan Cushman. This time, however, instead of being a relevant commentary on prejudice – as was the superior Flaming Star – the film stereotypes American Indians as shiftless and irresponsible.

Elvis stars as rodeo rider Joe Lightcloud, a Navajo whose family still lives on the reservation. Joe persuades his congressman to give him 20 heifers and a prize bull so he and his father, played by Burgess Meredith, can prove that the Navajos can successfully raise cattle on the reservation. If their experiment is successful, then the government will help all the Navajo people. But Joe’s buddy accidentally barbecues the prize bull, while Joe sells the heifers to buy plumbing and other home improvements for his stepmother, portrayed by Katy Jurado. Former leading lady Joan Blondell appears as tavern owner Glenda Callahan, whose daughter, played by Quentin Dean, can’t seem to stay away from the girl-chasing Joe.

Harum Scarum

Harum Scarum, released in Europe as Harem Holiday, is a 1965 musical film and comedy starring Elvis Presley. The film is regarded by many Elvis fans as one of his worst, despite being the only film he received a million dollar salary for appearing in. Some of the film was based on Rudolph Valentino’s The Sheik released in 1921.

Produced on a very low budget by Sam Katzman, Harum Scarum features Elvis Presley as matinee idol Johnny Tyronne. A takeoff on Elvis himself, Johnny is a famous movie and recording star who makes the women swoon and the men jealous. On a personal appearance tour in Lunarkand — a fictional country somewhere in the Middle East — Johnny is kidnapped by a gang of assassins and suddenly thrust into a plot to kill King Toranshah.

Johnny escapes and falls in with a band of pickpockets and rogues, all the while rescuing damsels in distress and singing a variety of pop-styled tunes. Johnny falls in love with a beautiful handmaiden, played by Mary Ann Mobley; unbeknownst to him, she is really Princess Shalimar, daughter of King Toranshah. Johnny thwarts the assassination attempt on the king, wins the heart of Princess Shalimar, and returns to America with a new act.

Tickle Me

Tickle Me is a 1965 western comedy-musical starring Elvis Presley. It is also the only Elvis film released by Allied Artists Pictures. It is said to have singlehandedly saved the Allied Artists studio from financial despair.

The film was first released onto the home video market in the VHS format in the early ’80s in a limited version from Allied Artists Home Video. It was issued again by CBS/Fox video in 1985, 1987 and 1992. Its final VHS issue was from Warner Home Video in 1997. In the summer of 2007, the film was released for the first time on DVD, in the wide-screen letterbox format.

Elvis stars as Lonnie Beale, a singing rodeo cowboy who moonlights as a handyman at a beauty spa. Though several women try to catch the attention of Lonnie, including spa owner Vera Radford, played by Julie Adams, the rodeo rider falls for Pam Merritt. Pam, portrayed by Jocelyn Lane, is visiting the spa to investigate a nearby ghost town where her grandfather has supposedly hidden a cache of gold.

Pam enlists the help of Lonnie and his sidekick Stanley, played by Jack Mullaney, to recover the treasure. Unscrupulous locals, also looking for the gold, try to frighten the hapless trio into leaving the territory, but the three eventually prevail. Lonnie and Pam marry at the end, marking one of the few times that one of Elvis’s characters actually weds on-screen.

Viva Las Vegas

Viva Las Vegas (1964) is an American romantic musical motion picture co-starring Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret.

The movie is regarded by fans as one of Presley’s best and is noted for the on-screen chemistry between Presley and Ann-Margret, plus 10 musical numbers.

Lucky Jackson (Elvis Presley) goes to Las Vegas, Nevada to participate in the city’s first annual Grand Prix. However, his race car is in need of a new engine in order to compete. Jackson raises the money but mislays it when distracted by a local swimming instructor, Rusty Martin (Ann-Margret). Soon, Jackson’s main competition arrives in the form of Count Elmo Mancini (Cesare Danova), who attempts to steal both the race and Rusty.

Lucky, a race-car driver whose car desperately needs a new engine, arrives in Las Vegas for the Vegas Grand Prix. Sporting the impossibly comic-book perfect names Lucky Jackson and Rusty Martin, the two stars forge a romance against the backdrop of the Vegas Grand Prix, which Elvis, naturally intends on winning. Lucky Jordan arrives in Las Vegas for the big Grand Prix race, but has engine trouble. He also falls in love at first sight, with a girl, Rusty Martin. Not knowing her name or address and assuming she is one of the showgirls in Las Vegas, Lucky and his racing rival, Count Elmo Mancini, search various nightclubs for the girl.

Ann-Margret was Elvis Presley’s leading lady, playing Rusty Martin to his Lucky Jackson in the movie. They had a brief romance and then remained friends throughout Elvis’ life. The Swedish born singer/actress was raised in Illinois and was discovered by George Burns. She had appeared in ‘Pocketful of Miracles’, State Fair’, and the Elvis-inspired musical ‘Bye, Bye Birdie’ prior to being cast in ‘Viva Las Vegas‘. She went on to receive numerous accolades including ten Golden Globe nominations with five wins and five Emmy Award nominations. She also received two Academy Award nominations, one for her work in ‘Carnal Knowledge’ and the other for ‘Tommy’.

Kissin’ Cousins

Kissin’ Cousins is a 1964 musical film starring Elvis Presley in two roles, one as an American soldier, the other his lookalike hillbilly cousin.

Elvis’ fourteenth film was 1964’s Kissin’ Cousins. In this film Elvis played the dual role of look-alike cousins: Josh Morgan, a dark-haired air force officer, and Jodie Tatum, a blond mountain man. Elvis Presley plays a dual role in Kissin’ Cousins, an extremely low-budget musical comedy set in the hills of Tennessee but mostly shot on Hollywood sets. As Air Force officer Josh Morgan, a dark-haired Elvis plays a responsible military man; as blond-haired Jodie Tatum, he appears as a girl-chasin’, guntotin’ mountain Romeo. Josh is assigned the task of persuading the Tatums, his distant relatives on his mother’s side, to sell their land for use as a missile site.

When he visits the Tatums, Josh runs into his blond-haired double as well as two beautiful country cousins, Azalea and Selena. The two girls, played by Yvonne Craig and Pam Austin respectively, both vie for Josh’s affections. Josh eventually chooses Azalea but not before pairing off Selena with his best friend. In the meantime, Jodie takes up with Midge, a beautiful but fiery WAG played by Cynthia Pepper. Josh persuades Pappy Tatum to sell one side of his mountain to the government as long as the military does not interfere with Pappy’s moonshining on the other side.