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Elvis movies mix & quiz

August 10th, 2017 Leave a comment Go to comments

What it says in the title… A mix of songs from Evis movie — one from each — and guess the Elvis movie from the synopsis. Clue: all the movies referred to in the quiz were made after Elvis served his fatherland. The answers are in the comments section (if some of the comments seem old, it’s because I first posted it in 2008). Not that I expect anybody but the greatest Elvis fan to know most of the answers; the fun resides in the questions. When Elvis went to Hollywood, he hoped to inherit James Dean’s mantle of rebellion. As these questions may suggest, he didn’t even inherit Bing Crosby’s mantle of casually whistling acquiescence.

1. Elvis is a singing heir to a pineapple plantation in Hawaii who becomes, as you do when the future holds a panama hat, a tour guide. He falls in love and sings 14 (count ’em) songs, including that ghastly tune ignorant people tend to call “Wise Man Say”.

2. Elvis is a singing swimming pool lifeguard who couldn’t cut it in the circus. He falls in love. With a bullfighter. Alas, it was not an edgy message movie fighting a culture of homophobia well ahead of its time. The bullfighter is — and the shrewd reader guessed it — a woman.

3. Elvis is a singing rodeo rider. Looking for gold, he falls in love and — don’t say you didn’t see that one coming — gets married to his lady love. Aaah!

4. Elvis is a singing racing driver working as a bus boy (which means, he clears tables, not speed through the streets in a doubledecker). He falls in love with a swimming instructor. And — spoiler alert — together they win a talent competition. Hurrah!

5. Elvis is a singing charter boat pilot in Hawaii who is torn between two girls. In the end (spoiler alert redux!) he goes — gulp — for the good girl.

6. Elvis is a singing bush pilot who takes care of a little Chinese kid. He then, yes, falls in love.

7. Elvis plays a non-singing (!) gunslinger come good. He fails to sing, but — phew — he does fall in love (else what movie would there be?). With a dance hall queen, as you do.

8. Elvis is a singing rodeo rider (again), but with an ethnic twist: he is of Native-American descent. This time, Elvis doesn’t so much fall in love but play the field, going for a mother and daughter combo. Off-screen Elvis preferred the teenage daughters; will he go for the MILF on-screen?

9. Elvis is, but of course, a singing racing driver who, plausibly enough, falls in love with a singing government agent in go-go boots. The story we all have to tell.

10. Elvis is a singing boxer who is supposed to take a fall. But he does fall. In love. With the love interest from movie (1).

11. Elvis is a navy frogman. Oh, but he is. And the kicker is, at night he sings in a nightclub. Oh, but he does. The unbelievable plot device here: Elvis fails to fall in love but goes treasure hunting instead. Will he find the treasure?

12. Elvis is a singing helicopter pilot. And guess where. No, really, please do take a wild stab in the dark. Why, he’s a singing helicopter pilot in Hawaii. But this movie is not like all the others in which Elvis is a singing action man who falls in love with a pretty girl while being pursued by the town harlot. Here he doesn’t fall in love with one or two women, but romances three, count ’em, of them.

13. Elvis is a singing racing car driver. Incredibly, the thing isn’t called Deja Fuckin’ Vu. Elvis again has three women to choose from, as he did in movie (12) which preceded this one (the 1960s morals had loosened, evidently). And they have some pretty ordinary jobs: drummer, self-help author, heiress…

14. Elvis is a singing heir, to a rich Texas oilman, who roughs it a bit as a waterski instructor (doing it fully clothed!). Among his clients is a woman who is looking for a rich husband. Oh, the hilarious complications that arise when Elvis falls in love. How will Elvis get out of this one?

15. Elvis is an occasionally singing photographer of stylish advertisements and of nudie pics (nobody showed the Colonel that script, I bet) who experiences psychedelic trips involving people in dog costumes (actually, was Tom Parker at all awake?). Yup, there is a love interest, seeing as you ask.

16. Elvis is a singing US soldier who falls in love with a dancer and sings a German folk song to a puppet.

17. Elvis is a ghetto doctor who doesn’t sing an awful lot. But he falls in love. With a nun. Oh naughty Elvis. But how could he know of her profession when she is swanning about in civvies. No wimple warning. There isn’t even a happy ending: we never learn whether the nun, played by a TV legend, goes with Big El or with Big Al. No wonder this was the last Elvis movie (a couple of documentaries apart).

18. Elvis is a singing insurance salesman who moonlights as a lion tamer and falls in love with the circus clown’s daughter.

The movies were mostly terrible (and yet strangely alluring in a camp sort of way), and not infrequently so was the music. Still, there were some stomping numbers, few more so than Bossa Nova Baby (watch great the excerpt from Fun In Acapulco here) with its sample-worthy keyboard line. Written by the legendary Leiber & Stoller, who just a decade earlier had written Hound Dog and other rock ‘n’ roll classics, it was first recorded in 1962 by Tippie & the Clovers, whose version the song’s composers preferred over Elvis’. Why the bossa nova sounds Mexican and, in fact, nothing like a bossa nova is anybody’s guess.

Another Leiber & Stoller composition, one that hints at Elvis’ affection for gospel, is I Want To Be Free, from Jailhouse Rock. It has been an Elvis favourite of mine since I first heard it on 4-disc set of our boy’s rock ‘n’ roll recordings which I bought when I was 12. The version featured here is the one from the film, not that from the soundtrack (which, it must be said, is superior).

Elvis might have gone soft on us after returning from the army, but on his version of Ray Charles’ What’d I Say, he rocks out. From 1964’s Viva Las Vegas, it was the b-side of the excellent title track. And on G.I. Blues Evis even revisits Blue Suede Shoes. And here’s the thing: the cover of the first cover is note-for-note faithful, the arrangement is he same, but it lacks the ejaculatory power of the 1956 version. The army demonstably had emasculated Elvis.

From 1962′ Girls Girls Girls, Return To Sender sounds like it might have featured in a pre-army movie. In fact, it sounds like a good companion piece to King Creole. It was co-written by Otis Blackwell who had previously written All Shook Up, Don’t Be Cruel, Fever (all recorded by Elvis) as well as Jerry Lee Lewis Great Balls Of Fire. Look out for Blackwell’s own version of it on a mix next week.

For a perfect fusion of Cool Rock ‘n’ Roll Elvis and Cheesy Movie Elvis, one may turn to What A Wonderful Life from 1962’s Follow That Dream, in which Elvis plays the singing son of a vagabond heading down Florida way et cetera.

There was a period when the crapness of Elvis’ music coincided with the shittiness of his movies to create a sewerage of artlessness. I would locate that point at 1965/66. Some argue that Harum Scarum in 1965 was the nadir, and it is a perfectly defensible position; I propose that this was just a stop before the all-time low: Spinout in 1965. There are no redeeming songs at all from that wretched movie. But rules are rules and I had to include one from each film. So you have the pleasure to sample the misogynistic Smorgasbord wherein our hero narrates his philandering ways by way of comparing his conquests to Scandinavian fingerfood. It’s so bad, it really is bad.

Things improved shortly, though not without further humiliations. You Gotta Stop from the following film, Easy Come, Easy Go is a few steps up from his nordic epicurean adventure, and then we get Long Legged Girl (With the Short Dress On) from Double Trouble (you remember Double Trouble, don’t you?), which is a fine performance, poor lyrics notwithstanding. Not that it saved poor Elvis’ dignity. In the same movie he was made to sing Old McDonald Had A Farm. Apparently he stormed out of the studio upon being told that the King of Rock & Roll was required to sing that. But sing that he did, on record and in the movie. It is a pathetic spectacle.

But improve the things did. In 1967’s Clambake — another cinematic triumph —  Elvis sang Jerry Reed’s Guitar Man, getting deep into his country roots. On Stay Away, Joe (everybody remembers that) he reconnects with the blues, in a manner, with All I Need Is The Rain; and in 1968’s Live A Little, Love A Little, he hits on a career highlight with A Little Less Conversation (a song that returned him to the charts almost 40 years later).

As always, CD-R length, home ducktailed covers included. PW in comments.

1. We’re Gonna Move (Love Me Tender, 1956)
2. Got A Lot O’ Livin’ To Do (Loving You, 1957)
3. I Want To Be Free (Movie version) (Jailouse Rock, 1957)
4. Hard Headed Woman (King Creole, 1958)
5. Blue Suede Shoes (G.I. Blues, 1960)
6. Flaming Star (Flaming Star, 1960)
7. I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell (Wild In The Country, 1961)
8. No More (Blue Hawaii, 1961)
9. What A Wonderful Life (Follow That Dream, 1962)
10. I Got Lucky (Kid Gallahad, 1962)
11. Return To Sender (Girls, Girls, Girls, 1962)
12. They Remind Me Too Much Of You (It Happened At The World Fair, 1963)
13. Bossa Nova Baby (Fun In Acapulca, 1963)
14. Kissin’ Cousins (Kissin’ Cousins, 1964)
15. What’d I Say (Viva Las Vegas, 1964)
16. Wheels On My Heels (Roustabout, 1964)
17. The Meanest Girl In Town (Girl Happy, 1965)
18. Put The Blame On Me (Tickle Me, 1965)
19. So Close, Yet So Far (From Paradise) (Harum Scarum, 1965)
20. A Dog’s Life (Frankie And Johnny, 1966)
21. Hard Luck (Paradise, Hawaii Style, 1966)
22. Smorgasbord (Spinout, 1966)
23. You Gotta Stop (Easy Come, Easy Go, 1967)
24. Long Legged Girl (With The Short Dress On) (Double Trouble, 1967)
25. Guitar Man (Clambake, 1967)
26. All I Needed Was The Rain (Stay Away, Joe, 1968)
27. Let Yourself Go (Speedway, 1968)
28. A Little Less Conversation (Live A Little, Love A Little, 1968)
29. Charro! (Charro!, 1969)
30. Clean Up Your Own Backyard (The Trouble With Girls, 1969)
31. Have A Happy (Change Of Habits, 1969)

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  1. AMD
    December 5th, 2008 at 08:52 | #1

    PW = AMDWHAH

    The answers:
    1. Blue Hawaii (1961)
    2. Fun In Acapulco (1963)
    3. Tickle Me (1965)
    4. Viva Las Vegas (1964)
    5. Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962)
    6. It Happened At The World Fair (1963)
    7. Charro! (1969)
    8. Stay Away Joe (1968)
    9. Speedway (1968)
    10. Kid Galahad (1962)
    11. Easy Come, Easy Go (1967)
    12. Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966)
    13. Spinout (1966)
    14. Clambake (1967)
    15. Live A Little, Love A Little (1968)
    16. GI Blues (1960)
    17. Change Of Habit (1969)
    18. ah, I made that one up. Let’s call it Stinking in Las Hawaii.

  2. Peter
    December 6th, 2008 at 05:54 | #2

    I answered “Viva Las Vegas” to everything, so I got at least one right.

  3. Layla
    December 8th, 2008 at 00:08 | #3

    This may be my favorite post ever. Personally I’m partial to Clambake and Kissin’ Cousins (even though it’s a real drag as a film, there’s something about missiles, Pappy, and Elvis in a blonde wig). Thanks, AMD. I’d forgotten how great Bossanova Baby is!

  4. Dane
    December 8th, 2008 at 07:05 | #4

    “Elvis is a singing racing car driver. Incredibly, the thing isn’t called Deja fuckin’ Vu.”That made me laugh really hard.

  5. JohnnyDiego
    August 10th, 2017 at 14:59 | #5

    Of course I saw Love Me Tender, Jailhouse Rock, and King Creole. These were made before Elvis went into the army. After reading Peter Guralnick’s two volume biography of Elvis I became convinced that I made the right decision in stopping where I did. Colonel Tom Parker used Elvis’ movies as just another money making commodity and demanded publishing rights to the songs Elvis sang. No wonder the movies were so terrible (I’ve tried to watch a few on TCM but was never able to finish one), and Elvis was so loyal and drug addled that he just went along with whatever Parker decided.
    But over the years I have come to appreciate and love the music Elvis made after his stint in the army. This is a fine mix and I thank you for your work.

  6. rekkids
    August 10th, 2017 at 17:32 | #6

    Thank You !

  7. RhodB
    August 11th, 2017 at 23:18 | #7

    Thanks Amd

    A great share so classic tunes here

    Regards

    Rhod

  8. Russ Mercado
    August 16th, 2017 at 09:31 | #8

    the password doesn’t seem to be working for me. AMDWHAH just keeps getting nixed. am I doing something wrong? great post by the way.

  1. December 16th, 2008 at 15:52 | #1
  2. August 16th, 2017 at 19:30 | #2