Elvis Movies: DOUBLE TROUBLE

Guy Lambert (Elvis Presley) departs for Belgium in 1967's DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

Guy Lambert (Elvis Presley) departs for Belgium in 1967’s DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

“[F]or the most part, Elvis movies take place in Elvis Land, a time outside of time, a time where Elvis is King, there is no outside world, there is no larger context – because when you have Elvis, that’s all the context you need. He justified films merely by being in them. You can imagine how that could be a disheartening experience for someone so competitive as Elvis, someone so determined to do well, but it is just one of the elements that make him fascinating as a performer.”
-Sheila O’Malley, 2012, The Sheila Variations

In his lifetime, Elvis Presley released 31 narrative movies and 2 documentaries. At the height of his film career in the 1960s, he was cranking out 3 movies a year.

When I was a teen, the local video rental store had dedicated sections for Action, Drama, Romance, Musicals, Horror, Science Fiction, and the like. It also had an entire section called Elvis Movies, with shelves full of VHS tapes of many of his films and concerts. Like Monster Movies or Superhero Movies, Elvis Movies really are their own genre. As writer Sheila O’Malley aptly notes above, they also occur in their own little reality.

As a second generation Elvis fan, and a child of the late 1970s and 1980s, my first exposure to Elvis Movies was not in the theater or even on VHS, but on broadcast television. A local, independent UHF channel would show a mini-marathon of themed movies on Saturday afternoons. On some Saturdays, for instance, I watched a double or triple feature of Monster Movies like King Kong vs. Godzilla (1963). On other Saturdays, I watched two or three Elvis Movies on this station. I can still hear the announcer excitedly proclaiming, “Up next, more Elvis in Harum Scarum!”

Though there are occasional exceptions, Elvis Movies are usually not remarkable achievements from an artistic perspective. Near the end of his film career, Elvis admitted that his movies made him “physically ill.” Though I cannot confirm the authenticity of this next quote, Elvis is also purported to have once said, “The only thing worse than watching a bad movie is being in one.”

As a child, though, I loved watching Elvis Movies with my family. They were fun, and Elvis played any number of characters of interest to an 8-year old: A racecar driver, a cowboy, a boxer, an Army man, etc. Elvis was the ultimate action hero, destined to win every fight and every girl. Elvis had a natural comedic flair, and there were also action scenes, often involving karate, that kept me interested as well. Of course, music was ever-present. The quality of many of his movie tunes were subpar, to say the least, but I didn’t really notice this back then, either. Elvis Movies were complete fantasy packages, as entertaining to young me as watching Godzilla and King Kong duke it out.

At some point, I suppose in my early adulthood, I began to see Elvis Movies in a different light. Maybe it was slogging through those dreadful movie tunes as I began exploring his entire catalog of music. Maybe it was reading about how much he disliked making them. Maybe it was the constant re-running of his movies on cable stations every January and August. At some point, I began to find it harder to sit through Elvis Movies. The completist in me has collected all of them on DVD, and I have watched each at least once. I don’t return to most of them too often, though. I love movies almost as much as I love music. I watched nearly 100 movies last year, but only one Elvis Movie.

In the spirit of that 8-year-old who watched a string of Elvis Movies on Saturday afternoons so long ago, I’ve decided to rewatch Elvis Movies over the next few years. I’m going to approach this in a random fashion, for that is how I first watched them. Along the way, I plan to blog about them. While I won’t go as deep into the details of these movies as someone like Gary Wells over at the Soul Ride blog might, I’ll hit what I consider the highlights as well as quirky tidbits that jump out at me, often on a personal level. Up first is Double Trouble.


“Elvis takes mad mod Europe by song as he swings into a brand new adventure filled with dames, diamonds, discotheques, and danger!!”

Double Trouble

Double Trouble (MGM)
Release Date: April 5, 1967
Starring: Elvis Presley, John Williams, Yvonne Romain, Annette Day
Screenplay By: Jo Heims
Story By: Marc Brandel
Music Score By: Jeff Alexander
Produced By: Judd Bernard and Irwin Winkler
Directed By: Norman Taurog
Running Time: 92 Minutes


You would be forgiven if, based on the movie’s title or the fact that he appears twice on its poster, you expected Elvis Presley to play dual roles in Double Trouble, his 24th film. Alas, this is not the case, for he had already performed that schtick a few years earlier in Kissin’ Cousins (1964). The double in the trouble represents our hero, singer Guy Lambert (Elvis), being torn between two love interests – the innocent but zany Jill (Annette Day) and the seductive Claire (Yvonne Romain). The movie isn’t really about any of that, though. While Guy seems intrigued by Claire, his heart is obviously with Jill – despite his own misgivings, including a subplot involving Jill’s age that is cringe-worthy by today’s standards.

Instead, Double Trouble tries to be a madcap comedy/thriller. Most of the comedy external to Elvis doesn’t really work (I’m looking at you, Wiere Brothers).

Annette Day is Jill Conway and Elvis Presley is Guy Lambert in 1967's DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

Annette Day is Jill Conway and Elvis Presley is Guy Lambert in 1967’s DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

Double Trouble doesn’t really work as a thriller, either. Someone wants Guy and/or Jill dead. Though the ultimate mastermind of the murder plot might come as a surprise, this revelation comes about through the hackneyed explanation of a hired killer right before he is going to off his victim. Guy, of course, saves the day, and the would-be killer ends up succumbing to the very trap he had planned for his target. Death is rare in Elvis Movies, but it does happen.

1967’s DOUBLE TROUBLE includes multiple murder attempts (MGM)

Double Trouble is also rare among Elvis Movies in that it takes place in Europe. The film opens in London, England, and then takes us to Belgium. Not really, though, as Double Trouble was filmed in Culver City, California.

In Double Trouble, the Belgian police drive Volkswagen Beetles. The interesting thing about this, for me, is that, as a child, I was obsessed with wanting a red VW Beetle. I drew pictures of one throughout my elementary school years, often including a police siren on top and other special devices, like spotlights and ejection seats. Though I have no memory of picking up this particular fascination from an Elvis Movie, sure enough, a red VW Beetle police car appears during a chase sequence.

A Volkswagen Beetle police car appears in 1967’s DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

Double Trouble marks the acting debut of Annette Day (Jill). You wouldn’t know it from the film, as she does a commendable job in both comedic and dramatic scenes. I love watching her observe and then mimic Elvis’ movements as he sings “Old MacDonald” to her. Unfortunately, this is Day’s only movie.

Jill Conway (Annette Day) snaps along as Guy Lambert (Elvis Presley) sings "Old MacDonald" in 1967's DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

Jill Conway (Annette Day) snaps along as Guy Lambert (Elvis Presley) sings “Old MacDonald” in 1967’s DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

I enjoyed watching many of the songs in the context of this film far more than I do listening to the soundtrack album in isolation. Elvis does appear quite stiff at times, though, particularly during his opening number, the title song. Incidentally, I really enjoyed the funky instrumental opening to the film and wish that ambience had been present on the actual Elvis music.

I admitted long ago that I’m a fan of Elvis’ version of “Old MacDonald” but the beautiful “City By Night” and “Could I Fall In Love” are Double Trouble‘s musical highlights.

A child (portrayed by Laurie Lambert) and Guy Lambert (Elvis Presley) ride a carousel as he sings “I Love Only One Girl” in 1967’s DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

If you go with the flow, as is necessary with most Elvis Movies, Double Trouble is entertaining.


Boldly Go

Stanley Adams plays Captain Roach in Double Trouble. Adams is known to fellow Trekkies for his portrayal of Cyrano Jones in the Star Trek episode “The Trouble With Tribbles” (1967) and the animated Star Trek follow-up episode “More Tribbles, More Troubles” (1973).

Stanley Adams is Captain Roach in 1967's DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

Stanley Adams is Captain Roach in 1967’s DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

Leonard Nimoy is Mister Spock, Stanley Adams is Cyrano Jones, and William Shatner is Captain James T. Kirk in the 1967 STAR TREK episode "The Trouble With Tribbles" (Desilu)

Leonard Nimoy is Mister Spock, Stanley Adams is Cyrano Jones, and William Shatner is Captain James T. Kirk in the 1967 STAR TREK episode “The Trouble With Tribbles” (Desilu)


Double Trouble Tote Board

  • Kisses: 13
  • Karate Chops: 9
  • Songs: 8
  • Karate Kicks: 4
  • Broken Windows: 2
Elvis Presley is Guy Lambert in 1967's DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

Elvis Presley is Guy Lambert in 1967’s DOUBLE TROUBLE (MGM)

Songs In Double Trouble

  1. “Double Trouble” (1966), written by Doc Pomus & Mort Shuman
  2. “Baby, If You’ll Give Me All Of Your Love” (1966), written by Joy Byers
  3. “Could I Fall In Love” (1966), written by Randy Starr
  4. “Long Legged Girl” (1966), written by J. Leslie McFarland & Winfield Scott
  5. “City By Night” (1966), written by Bill Giant, Bernie Baum, & Florence Kay
  6. “Old MacDonald” (1966), written by Randy Starr, based on the traditional composition
  7. “I Love Only One Girl” (1966), written by Sid Tepper & Roy C. Bennett, based on the traditional composition “Auprès de ma blonde
  8. “There Is So Much World To See” (1966), written by Sid Tepper & Ben Weisman

The Mystery Train’s Double Trouble Scorecard

  • Story: 2 (out of 10)
  • Acting: 5
  • Fun: 6
  • Songs: 5
  • Overall: 4 (For Elvis Fans Only)

TMT Files: Guy Lambert

Click image for larger, full-color version

 


“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
Colossians 3:17

Now Available: Warner Brothers releases THAT’S THE WAY IT IS – SPECIAL EDITION on Blu-ray

Today, Warner Brothers releases Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Special Edition on Blu-ray. This 2000 revision of the original 1970 documentary has been available on DVD since 2001, but this marks the first Blu-ray release – featuring high definition video quality and upgraded sound. The Blu-ray is presented in a “digibook” format similar to the 2010 release of 1972’s Elvis On Tour.

THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION Blu-ray (2014)

THAT’S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION Blu-ray (2014)

Early reviews (here and here) have revealed new information about this release. Despite a Warner Brothers press release indicating otherwise, the 1970 theatrical version of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is apparently does not appear on the Blu-ray disc. Instead, it is only provided on the accompanying DVD disc. In addition, outtake footage provided as a bonus feature on the Blu-ray disc is apparently of poor quality – despite comments in June to the contrary by a Warner Brothers executive.

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc)
2001 Special Edition
Special Features:
“Patch It Up: The Restoration of ‘Elvis: That’s The Way It Is’”
12 Outtakes – song/nonmusical sequences:

1.) “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” (Rehearsal-July 14)

2.) Eating Sequence (July 14)

3.) “Cattle Call,” “Baby Let’s Play House,” and “Don’t” (Rehearsal-July 29)

4.) “Farther Along” (Rehearsal-August 4)

5.) “Oh Happy Day” (Rehearsal-August 7)

6.) “I Just Can’t Help Believin'” (Live-August 11 Dinner Show)

7.) “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” (Live-August 11 Midnight Show)

8.) “I’ve Lost You” (Live-August 12 Dinner Show)

9.) “Sweet Caroline” (Live-August 12 Midnight Show)

10.) “Little Sister”* (Live-August 12 Midnight Show)

11.) “Stranger In The Crowd” (Live-August 13 Dinner Show)

12.) After Show Party (August 10 Opening Show)

*The “Get Back” portions of this live medley were edited out of the 2007 DVD release and also apparently do not appear on the 2014 Blu-ray.

Disc 2 (DVD)
1970 Original Theatrical Version
Special Features:
12 Outtakes – song/nonmusical sequences (same as listed above)

To promote the Blu-ray, a limited-engagement theatrical run of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition begins on August 16 in Memphis and expands to much of the US the following day.

Warner Brothers provides details on THAT’S THE WAY IT IS Blu-ray outtakes

[August 5, 2014 Update: A July 21 email request for more details from George Feltenstein at Warner Brothers thus far remains unanswered. However, early reviews of the Blu-ray (here and here) have provided the following:

  • The theatrical version of the film does not appear on the Blu-ray disc. It only appears on the DVD, which is the same version as previous releases.
  • The outtakes on the Blu-ray are about the same poor quality as they were on the 2007 DVD. No significant improvements in video or audio.
  • The live version of “Get Back” does not appear in the Blu-ray outtakes. Only the “Little Sister” portions of the medley appear – as on the 2007 DVD release.

Unfortunately, it seems that’s the way it is.

Thank you to LSP-4445 amd rgray_69 at the For Elvis CD Collectors forum for providing the review links.]

July 20, 2014 Original Post

In a recent Graceland.com podcast, Warner Brothers Senior Vice-President of Catalog Marketing George Feltenstein provided more details on the 12 outtakes included as special features on the That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition Blu-ray due out on August 12. The film follows Elvis in the summer of 1970.

As suspected, the content mirrors that of the 2007 2-DVD set, except with a new twist. On DVD, the outtakes were presented in abysmal quality, but on Blu-ray, they will be pristine. In the June 20 podcast, Feltenstein explained:

“The Blu-ray has high-definition, incredible new presentation, [and an] all-new master, but we also have, with really impressive quality, additional songs that were not included in the Special Edition. They were on a prior DVD but with, really, not very impressive quality because that’s the best that we had at the time, and it really was disappointing to fans. So, we were unable to locate the actual master tapes that had the outtakes that we intended to use in 2007, and, finally, now, that tape was located, and that is now on the Blu-ray. So people will be able to see the – I think there are about ten – additional performances, and they’re going to look and sound much better than they did on the 2007 DVD – which was really a heartbreaker for us because we always want to give the consumers the best thing we can, and now we can do that, and it’s very, very exciting. We are always looking for new ways to make Elvis fans happy.”

The outtakes are:

1.) “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” (Rehearsal-July 14)

2.) Eating Sequence (July 14)

3.) “Cattle Call,” “Baby Let’s Play House,” and “Don’t” (Rehearsal-July 29)

4.) “Farther Along” (Rehearsal-August 4)

5.) “Oh Happy Day” (Rehearsal-August 7)

6.) “I Just Can’t Help Believin'” (Live-August 11 Dinner Show)

7.) “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” (Live-August 11 Midnight Show)

8.) “I’ve Lost You” (Live-August 12 Dinner Show)

9.) “Sweet Caroline” (Live-August 12 Midnight Show)

10.) “Little Sister”/[“Get Back”*] (Live-August 12 Midnight Show)

11.) “Stranger In The Crowd” (Live-August 13 Dinner Show)

12.) After Show Party (August 10 Opening Show)

*The “Get Back” portions of this live medley were edited out of the 2007 DVD release. It is unclear as of yet whether they have been restored for the 2014 Blu-ray release.

Elvis rehearsing on August 7, 1970

Elvis rehearsing on August 7, 1970

According to a Warner Brothers press release, here are the product details:

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc)
2001 Special Edition
Special Features:
“Patch It Up: The Restoration of ‘Elvis: That’s The Way It Is’”
12 Outtakes – song/nonmusical sequences
1970 Original Theatrical Version

Disc 2 (DVD)
1970 Original Theatrical Version
Special Features:
12 Outtakes – song/nonmusical sequences

A limited-engagement theatrical run of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is begins on August 16 in Memphis and expands to much of the US the following day.

A week prior to the Blu-ray, Sony will release 10-disc and 2-disc expanded versions of the Elvis: That’s The Way It Is album on August 5.

Reserve your seat now for ELVIS: THAT’S THE WAY IT IS – SPECIAL EDITION, coming to US theaters in August

Elvis in THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

Elvis in THAT’S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

As hoped, Warner Brothers is bringing a newly restored version of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Special Edition to theaters across the United States in August. Playing in 40 states, the limited engagement promotes the August 12 release of the documentary on Blu-ray.

Elvis: That’s The Way It Is was a 1970 MGM documentary that captured Elvis on stage and off during his third concert series at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. In 2000, the “Special Edition,” a completely new edit of the film, made its debut in Memphis. It hit stores the following year on VHS and DVD. The Special Edition used elements of the original movie as well as previously unseen footage. In some ways, it was an improvement upon the theatrical version, while in other ways, it was inferior.

For the purposes of this 2014 theatrical screening, Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Special Edition is admittedly the best choice for sharing with the “general public” and even casual Elvis fans. After the previously announced August 16 premiere at the Orpheum Theater in Memphis, other US theaters will begin showing the film the week of August 17.

This will mark the third time I have seen Elvis in theaters, dating back to an edit of the ELVIS “Comeback Special” in 2004 and Elvis On Tour in 2010. Each of those previous times, I remember thinking, “This is great, but I really wish I could see That’s The Way It Is like this.”

For me, That’s The Way It Is represents Elvis Presley at his very best. I was only two when Elvis passed away, so he was gone before I ever had a chance to see him in concert. This is a dream-come-true, next best thing for me. I can’t wait! Accept no imitations. This is the real deal.

Be sure to check out the brand-new trailer below or over on USAToday.com.

Covering THAT’S THE WAY IT IS through the years

 

THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION Blu-ray cover (concept art)

THAT’S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION Blu-ray cover (concept art)

Warner Home Video has released the cover art for the August 12 Blu-ray release of That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition (above). The documentary captures Elvis in the summer of 1970 in rehearsals and performances for his third concert series at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.

There are also at least two versions of the related press release floating around on the Web. As this version comes directly from Warner Brothers, this is likely the most accurate as far as preliminary product details:

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc)
2001 Special Edition
Special Features:
“Patch It Up: The Restoration of ‘Elvis: That’s The Way It Is’”
12 Outtakes – song/nonmusical sequences
1970 Original Theatrical Version

Disc 2 (DVD)
1970 Original Theatrical Version
Special Features:
12 Outtakes – song/nonmusical sequences

That’s The Way It Is represents my personal favorite of all of Elvis Presley’s projects, so I am thrilled it is finally coming to Blu-ray. Based on Warner Home Video’s partial mangling of the 2010 Elvis On Tour Blu-ray release, among other prior Elvis video issues, I am trying to remain cautious, however.

Content-wise, this appears simply to be a Blu-ray version of the 2007 2-DVD reissue of the Special Edition. However, the potential for dramatic improvement in video and audio quality that Blu-ray offers should be a strong selling point. I suspect that only the 2001 Special Edition, which represents a completely different edit of the film than the original theatrical version, is garnering the full upgrade treatment. I hope I am wrong, however, as both versions deserve it.

I hope that Warner spent more time on the films than it did the cover art, for something about it looks slightly familiar. Join me for a trip down Memories Lane for a look at previous home video cover art related to That’s The Way It Is.

Original Home Video Releases (Circa. 1987)

THAT'S THE WAY IT IS home video covers (circa. 1987)

Note the error on the left cover promoting “The Wonder of You” as being included in the movie. Though Elvis name-checks the song, it did not appear in the actual film. A performance of “The Wonder of You” from that engagement did not appear on video for another five years. It was also added to the Special Edition version in 2001.

1988 VHS Re-release

THAT'S THE WAY IT IS home video cover (1988)

Lest there be any doubt, Elvis did not wear a pink jumpsuit in That’s The Way It Is. As a child of the 1980s, I have to love the vintage cover art style, though.

1992 VHS Release of The Lost Performances

THE LOST PERFORMANCES home video cover (1992)

The original photo of the same Elvis pose made an appearance on the cover of Elvis: The Lost Performances, a release that helped define my Elvis fanhood. It featured outtakes from That’s The Way It Is and Elvis On Tour. While the main Elvis photo is unfortunately a reverse image, this is still one of my all-time favorite covers. Maybe it is because I loved that video so much, though. Looking back, I do have to wonder if using similar cover art caused consumer confusion. Many that already had the 1988 video release of That’s The Way It Is may very well have believed this was the same content under new packaging – despite the “lost” title.

 1997 VHS Re-releases and First DVD Release

1997 VHS editions of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS and THE LOST PERFORMANCES; 1997 DVD edition of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS

As The Lost Performances had (temporarily) taken over the Elvis pose first used for That’s The Way It Is on VHS in 1988, striking new cover art for That’s The Way It Is made its debut for the 1997 VHS and DVD editions of the film. The Lost Performances VHS cover also received a slight redesign for 1997, though, sadly, it did not receive a DVD issue.

2001 Special Edition VHS and DVD Releases

2001 VHS and DVD editions of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

A new edit of That’s The Way It Is, marketed as That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition, made its debut in limited theatrical runs in 2000. In 2001, it hit home video with VHS and DVD releases. Unfortunately, Warner had to excise bonus features at the last moment due to not obtaining proper clearances. A performance of “Are You Lonesome Tonight” over the closing credits also had to be replaced. The original version of the film was not included. For the cover art, Warner went back to the tried and true Elvis pose first used in 1988 – despite the fact that this was a different version of the film from the original. Again, fans who already had previous versions with similar covers probably did not bother to buy this one. The “special edition” also featured only a few of the songs from The Lost Performances.

2007 DVD Re-release

2007 DVD edition of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

By 2007, the original theatrical version of That’s The Way It Is was out-of-print on DVD. A 2-DVD re-release of That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition included the original film and some of the excised bonus features from 2001 on the second disc. Bonus features were in embarrassing video quality for a mainstream release. While definitely watchable, the 1970 theatrical cut was also in lesser condition relative to the 2001 edit.

2014 First Blu-ray Release (and beyond?)

2014 Blu-ray edition of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

Hundreds of incredible photos are available of Elvis during the filming of That’s The Way It Is, but the Warner Home Video art department remains firmly fixated on the same image featuring Elvis after audience members have ripped his jumpsuit and mussed up his hair during an impulsive walk through the crowd.

THAT’S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION coming to Blu-ray in August

Elvis Presley performs live in August 1970

Elvis Presley in THAT’S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION (1970/2000)

From ElvisMatters:

An exclusive screening of the world premiere of Warner Bros.’ newly-remastered version of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Special Edition will be held at the Orpheum Theatre [in Memphis, Tennessee]. The Elvis concert documentary will be available for the first time on Blu-ray on August 12. Fans will be treated not only to the newly-remastered film, but will also get to experience an outtake performance or sequence never-before-seen on the big screen. In addition, the screening will feature an on-stage performance by Terry Blackwood and The Imperials and “Elvis: That’s The Way It Is” related artifacts on display in the lobby, direct from the Graceland Archives.

I have not yet been able to find confirmation of this on the official Elvis.com or Graceland.com sites, but it is not unusual for them to be behind on even their own news. I even tried the Orpheum site.

If this pans out, I would not be surprised if additional screenings are added across the United States via Fathom Events, as was done to promote the Elvis On Tour Blu-ray in 2010.

Perhaps Warner will be more accurate in its product descriptions for That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition Blu-ray than they were for the Elvis On Tour Blu-ray.

Update: Graceland.com has now confirmed the screening and Blu-ray release for August, though the press release is unclear on certain product details. Look for plenty of coverage here in coming months.

Cinematic Justice: NOBODY short film to focus on 18-year-old Elvis Presley

“He said he was a singer. I said, ‘What kind of a singer are you?’ He said, ‘I sing all kinds.’ I said, ‘Who do you sound like?’ He said, ‘I don’t sound like nobody.'” –Memphis Recording Service office manager Marion Keisker recalling her Summer 1953 meeting with Elvis (1)

Elvis, circa. 1953

Elvis, circa. 1953

“My ultimate goal with Nobody is to give Elvis Presley the cinematic justice he deserves, even if only through an independent short film,” said William Bryan, writer/director/producer of Nobody. The film, currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, will portray Elvis in the waning days of his senior year in high school. A key event will be his performance at the April 1953 Humes High School talent show, which gave the shy singer enough confidence to walk into Memphis Recording Service just weeks later to record a demo.

Bryan, an Elvis fan since he was 11-years-old, has made an annual visit to Memphis for the last ten years. While studying at Columbia College Chicago, he made numerous short films. His goal for Nobody, which is also produced by 2011 Columbia College graduate Tom Radovich, is that it inspire today’s dreamers.

“Sure, this might sound a bit romanticized,” Bryan explained, “but think about who Elvis Presley was at the time of our story. He was a senior in high school who wasn’t the sports hero, didn’t have a girlfriend…he really was a nobody.”

While Nobody focuses on early Elvis, Bryan does not limit his fandom to that era. “I’ve been listening to a lot of ballad numbers that Elvis recorded between 1969 and 1971. ‘I’ll Never Know’ and ‘I’ve Lost You’ have been two of my favorites this week,” he said.

Nobody‘s Kickstarter campaign ends on June 1. If it can secure enough funding to proceed, the independent production promises a new look at Elvis compared to previous dramatizations of his life. “With all due respect to the filmmakers who have come before me and already told an Elvis story, many of the ‘Hollywood’ productions have unfortunately been less-than-tasteful, historically inaccurate, or worse, both,” said Bryan.

Reference

(1) ELVIS: The Biography by Jerry Hopkins, Plexus, London, 2007, p. 41.


Considering that as recent as four days ago, I noted that I no longer care to watch dramatizations of Elvis’ life, you may wonder why I chose to cover this particular story. I believe Nobody has a chance to distance itself from many of the other films made about Elvis over the years due to the most important ingredient in any creative endeavor: Passion. Bryan seems to have a strong passion for the subject, which will hopefully translate into a special film.

As with all Elvis dramatizations, though, another important aspect will be casting. This is even more important for a short film, I would say, because there is less time for the audience to connect with the character. For a movie such as Nobody to be taken seriously, a strong actor needs to be cast – not someone doing an Elvis caricature.

This should be a fun story to keep an eye on in the coming months. My thanks to William Bryan for taking part in an email interview for this article.