Elvis Presley, who died on this date in 1977 at age 42, starred in 31 scripted motion pictures beginning with 1956's "Love Me Tender" and ending with a thud with 1969's "Change of Habit."
Because so many of his later films were so bad, including such turkeys as 1965's "Harum Scarum," 1966's "Frankie and Johnny" and 1969's "Charro!," Presley is often given short shrift as a film actor.
Though he never found the film that really stretched him as an actor, Presley acquited himself quite nicely in several musicals and dramas working with such noted directors as
To commemorate the anniversary of his death, why not revisit some of these Presley films?
"Love Me Tender" (1956)
This sentimental Civil War tale is far from a classic. And Presley certainly proved no threat to Marlon Brando. But it's worthwhile because the family drama was the young Presley's feature film debut.
Presley had been signed earlier by veteran producer Hal Wallis to a contract. Wallis, who was at Paramount, loaned Presley's services to
Some reviews were less than tender, with Variety stating: "Appraising Presley as an actor, he ain't. Not that it makes much difference. There are four songs, and lotsa Presley wriggles thrown in for good measure."
"Jailhouse Rock" (1957)
Presley swiveled his hips over to MGM for one of his best flicks in a role that was tailor-made to his strengths. Playing a bad boy with a heart, he sings, dances, spends time in prison, get to emote and even falls in love. And who can't resist such lines as "That ain't cheap tactics, honey. That's just the beast in me."
The film boasts a memorable score by
"King Creole" (1958)
Presley was drafted during the making of this musical drama based on the
"Viva Las Vegas" (1964)
This sprightly romantic comedy was Presley's best film since "Jailhouse Rock," and many of his fans think it is his final good one. Directed by Sidney, who had helmed such classic musicals as 1945's "Anchors Aweigh" and the 1963 hit "Bye Bye Birdie," this film finds Presley turning on the charm as Lucky Jackson, a race car drive who has aspirations of winning the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
"Elvis — That's The Way It Is" (1970)
Afer his final scripted film, Presley made two documentaries, including this well-received look at his summer apperance that year at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. Directed by Denis Sanders, the film was shot by Lucien Ballard, who used eight Panavision cameras to capture Presley in all his musical glory.
And in 2001, a new version produced by Rick Smidlin debuted on Turner Classic Movies that featured less documentary material and more performance footage.