Elvis Cinema and Popular Culture

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About the Book

Though Elvis Presley’s music is widely credited as starting a sea change in American popular culture, his films are often dismissed as superficial. Beyond the formulaic plotlines and the increasingly weaker songs, however, the films are rich with resonance to the changing times in which they were produced (roughly 1955–1970). They were also a means by which Elvis communicated deeply felt autobiographical material to his fan base, although in the guise of lighthearted escapist fare. This work takes a new stand, maintaining that Elvis’s 31 Hollywood features and two documentaries reveal a profound statement from the star and auteur. Analyzing each film in detail and exploring the body of work as a whole, Brode reveals the Elvis persona as a contemporary Candide, attempting to navigate an ever-changing social and political landscape.

About the Author(s)

Douglas Brode, novelist, screenwriter, playwright, film historian, and multi-award-winning working-journalist, teaches courses on various popular culture subjects at the Newhouse School of Public Communications, Department of Radio, TV and Film, at Syracuse University. The author of more than thirty-five books on the visual and performing arts, he regularly appears on national radio and TV shows as a special guest.

Bibliographic Details

Douglas Brode

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 319
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2526-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0548-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction: All Singing! All Dancing! All Elvis!      1

1. Elvis Died for Your Sins      13
Love Me Tender (1956)      13
2. Alive and Well in TV Land      24
Loving You (1957)      24
3. Of Music and Money      35
Jailhouse Rock (1957)      35
4. Fathers and Sons      48
King Creole (1958)      48
5. You Can’t Go Home Again      58
G.I. Blues (1960)      59
Blue Hawaii (1961)      64
6. Mired in the ’50s      73
Flaming Star (1960)      74
Wild in the Country (1961)      81
7. Poor White Trash      88
Follow That Dream (1962)      89
Kissin’ Cousins (1964)      98
8. The Sexual Revolution      103
Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962)      105
Fun in Acapulco (1963)      111
9. Up the Establishment!      118
Kid Galahad (1962)      120
Roustabout (1964)      126
10. From Marginalization to Mainstream      133
It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963)      134
Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966)      141
11. A Mid–’60s Masterpiece      148
Viva Las Vegas (1964)      148
12. Out of It      162
Girl Happy (1965)      165
Tickle Me (1965)      171
13. Everything New Is Old Again      175
Harum Scarum (1965)      176
Frankie and Johnny (1966)      181
14. Hot Wheels and Wild Women      188
Spinout (1966)      190
Speedway (1968)      197
15. The Summer of Love      205
Easy Come, Easy Go (1967)      206
Double Trouble (1967)      214
16. The Cowboy Way      220
Stay Away, Joe (1968)      222
Charro! (1969)      228
17. The Last Temptation(s) of Elvis      231
Clambake (1967)      233
Live a Little, Love a Little (1968)      239
18. Pilgrim’s Progress      245
The Trouble with Girls (1969)      246
Change of Habit (1969)      250
19. Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used to Be      259
Elvis: That’s the Way It Is (1970)      262
Elvis on Tour (1972)      267

Conclusion: “50 Million Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong!”      273
Notes      285
Bibliography      295
Index      303

Book Reviews & Awards

“Elvis fans will welcome Brode’s study, which makes the case for more significance in the Presley musicals than most critics have yet seen. You’ll never watch Love Me Tender or Spinout the same way again (and again!).”—Linda Ray Pratt, author, Elvis, or the Ironies of a Southern Identity.