Elvis Presley’s last two films were concert documentaries -- 1970’s “Elvis: Thats The Way It Is” (re-edited in 2001) and 1972’s “Elvis on Tour.”
Both films show Presley at his full artistic maturity, highlighting the expansive, encompassing idea of American music that is inarguably his most valuable and lasting legacy. From there it was a slow-motion decline into the bloated “Elvis Has Left the Building” touring years. (MGM)
Elvis Presley as Toby Kwimper in the 1962 musical drama “Follow That Dream,” which was set in Florida and costarred Arthur O’Connell, Anne Helm, Joanna Moore and Jack Kruschen. ()
“Loving You,” Presley’s second movie, tells a familiar tale of stardom. It’s a loose telling of Presley’s own rise to stardom. (Heide Brandt)
His last two films before entering the Army in 1958, “Jailhouse Rock” and “King Creole” (the latter said to be his favorite), go a long way toward making that goal a reality, ranking as his most complete and fulfilling efforts even among those who otherwise dismiss his work. (File photo)
Presley entered the U.S. Army in Memphis, Tenn. in 1958. The pop icon served in Fort Hood, Texas, and was sent to Germany between 1958 to 1960, where he shot “G.I. Blues” on location and he was officially discharged from the Army Reserve in 1964. In the successful 1960 romantic musical comedy, Presley starred as serviceman Tulsa McLean alongside Juliet Prowse, Robert Ivers and James Douglas.
Though he took on more serious acting roles in 1960’s “Flaming Star” and 1961’s “Wild in the Country,” the success of “G.I. Blues” solidified the musical comedy format for Presley. He later played numerous roles as servicemen mimicking “G.I. Blues” style in “Blue Hawaii” (1961), “Girls! Girls! Girls!” (1962), “Fun in Acapulco” (1963), “Kissin’ Cousins” (1964) and “Clambake” (1967). (EPE Daily)
This 1962 musical was a remake of a 1937 film of the same name. The conventional narrative of Presley’s life begrudgingly allows for the Hollywood era, when he was making roughly three pictures a year from 1960 to 1969, as a necessary low to set the stage for his triumphant reemergence in music with the television program now popularly known as his “’68 Comeback Special,” which led to his revival as a live performer until his death on Aug. 16, 1977. (Associated Press)
“Viva Las Vegas” is the only Elvis movie that understands itself as being an “Elvis Movie.” Directed by George Sidney, who also cast Ann-Margret, the star of his Elvis-parodying “Bye Bye Birdie,” the film has a kicky self-awareness missing from any of Presleys other pictures. (LACMA)
Presley with Ann-Marget in the 1964 film. Throughout the ‘60s, filming and soundtrack work often kept Presley from recording much additional music, so the main engine for his success began to slow. (File photo)
Suzanna Leigh and Elvis Presley costarred in 1966’s “Paradise, Hawaiian Style.” Leigh was one of Presley’s many female costars who organized a gathering in Memphis, Tenn., of actors, actresses and others who worked on Presley’s movies to mark the 30th anniversary of the singer/actor’s death.
His final movie role came in 1969 when he played Dr. John Carpenter in “Change of Habit.” The singer included fewer songs in this mostly straight acting film that costarred Mary Tyler Moore as an undercover nun, Barbara McNair, Jane Elliot, Leora Dana and Edward Asner. (Suzanna Leigh / Associated Press)