Elvis at the Movies
A Short Biography
[All photos copyrighted by RCA Records]
Elvis (Aron) Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8, 1935. Growing up as an only-child, he sang Pentecostal church music, listened to Grand Ole Opry radio broadcasts, and heard blue singers. In 1954, he recorded a group of songs that enjoyed local popularity in Memphis, Tennessee on 5 singles, and the following year, the local record producer sold Elvis's contract to RCA Victor. Around this time, Elvis met a promoter named Colonel Tom Parker, who became Elvis's manager for the rest of his career. The rest, is history. In 1956, Elvis recorded Heartbreak Hotel, the first of 45 singles that would sell over a million copies each. Also in 1956, Elvis appeared in Love Me Tender, the first of more than 30 movies he made through 1972. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, after his 1960 discharge from the U.S. Army,
His earlier raucous rock and roll style was moderated over the years, and his rebel image was revised into a personification of American upward mobility. In 1968, the year in which he returned to television, he embarked on a Las Vegas-based touring act with a full popular orchestra and a gospel-like choir.... Presley's audience... continued to expand.... Presley, meanwhile, suffered a personal decline, battling public pressures on his life, middle-age weight gain, and dependence on drugs. The extent of his problems was not reported until after his sudden death...in Graceland [on August 16, 1977].
Elvis's career had three distinct phases:
In each area, Elvis was The King. But it is his movies that are least appreciated. Granted, with the possible exceptions of the early Love Me Tender and King Creole, the Elvis movies aren't exactly Academy Award material. However, in their original releases and in almost endless TV reruns, those films brought a lot of enjoyment to his millions of fans. They also generated a whole set of songs that are almost totally ignored by the music critics. Among them, however, are some real gems, including Love Me Tender, King Creole, G.I. Blues, Blue Hawaii, Girls! Girls! Girls!, Return to Sender, and Viva Las Vegas.
For those who haven't seen Elvis's contributions to the history of American film, below is The King's complete filmography. Most are available at a video store near you or on your own television. Check them out! Behind the now-outmoded image of "middle America," you'll find hours of light entertainment and many fine songs that are part of Elvis's musical heritage.
For More Information
All of Elvis' movies are available on video and frequently air on various broadcast, cable, and satellite television networks. A few are also available on DVD.
For a good sampling of Elvis' music, look for the following CDs:
Elvis: 30 #1 Hits
Elvis: The Top Ten Hits
Elvis Command Performances: The Essential 60's Masters II
Elvis: NBC TV Special
Elvis: That's the Way It Is
1996-2013 Arnold E.
van Beverhoudt, Jr.