LOVE ME TENDER -
Love Me Tender
premiered in New York City on November 15, 1956, at the Paramount
Theater. A fifty-too-tall cardboard picture of Elvis stood in front of
the theatre. On the same bill was
He Left Behind,
starring Tab Hunter and Natalie Wood. Thirty-five policeman and twenty
extra ushers were used for the premiere. Theater patrons began lining up
outside the box office as early as 08:00 A.M.
While filming in Hollywood, Elvis and his
parents stayed at the Hollywood Knickerbocker Hotel on Ivar Avenue.
Elvis rented the entire eleventh floor.
Elvis’s salary was a flat $100,000.
Debra Paget first appeared with Elvis on
The Milton Berle Show on June 5, 1956. She began her film career
at the age of fifteen in
Cry of the City (1948). Her career
voluntarily ended with the release of 1963's
The Haunted Place.
Contrary to popular opinion, Paget did not give Elvis his
first screen kiss. That honour went to Jana Lund, in
At the February 23, 1972 Elvis concert at
the Las Vegas Hilton, Richard Egan stood up and began an ovation while
Elvis was singing his closing number, Can't Help Falling In Love.
The opening scenes of Love Me Tender
took place on April 10, 1865, the day after General Robert E. Lee
surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomatox Court House in
Virginia, thus ending the Civil War.
$12,250 - Amount of the Union payroll
taken by the Reno brothers when they robbed a Louisiana & Western train
in Greenwood, Louisiana, on April 10, 1865. In actuality, the first
train robbery in U.S. history took place on October 16, 1866, when the
Ohio & Mississippi Railroad was robbed of $10,000 at Seymour, Indiana.
The gang that robbed the train was the Reno brothers.
East Texas Railroad - railroad line that
was taking the Reno brothers into Tyler, Texas, to stand before their
accusers in the Greenwhood, Louisiana, train station robbery. Their
former rebel friends helped them escape from the train.
When Elvis took his first screen test in
The Rainmaker, the producer Hal Wallis liked what he saw. He
said, "Elvis, in a very... modern way, had exactly the same power,
virility and sexual drive as Errol Flynn."
The producers of Love Me Tender
didn't want Tennessee hicks cutting the tunes for their movie, so they
insisted that Elvis replace his usual Memphis sidemen, Scotty Moore and
Bill Black, with session musicians that included the more genteel and
restrained Ken Darby Trio. Ironically, the hired hands sounded more
countrified and down-home than Elvis's own musicians on their recent
On the first day of shooting, Elvis came
to the set knowing his lines, Debra's lines, everybody's lines. On the
set, Elvis did his job, but his Southern politeness and natural
deference sometimes got in the way. In one particular scene, Elvis grabs
a pistol and heads for the door of the cabin, ignoring his mother -
played by Mildred Dunnock - when she snaps, "Put down that gun!" But the
first time Dunnock delivered her line, Elvis sheepishly muttered, "Yes,
ma'am" and dropped the gun. All the present crew laughed.
Critics thought the movie was awful and
accused Elvis of not knowing how to act. But Love Me Tender was
the 6th movie listed in 1957, which indicated the normal life of a
successful film. And it were "the powers that be" who have decided Elvis
shouldn't have acting lessons because, according to them, that "would
ruin his natural ability."
Shorty after the movie premiered and the
fans lined endlessly by the box-offices, the admissions quickly sold
out. A fan cried, desperate, because she couldn't get a ticket. When the
reporter asked her why she was so sad, she replied, "I couldn't get an
admission!" He assumed she hadn't seen the movie yet. But she had
already seen it 42 times!
On Elvis's first close-up scene, he is
ploughing the land with some horses and he sees his brothers coming from
afar. He pulls his hat to the back of his head and smiles broadly. It is
told that all the girls present in the movie theatres screamed during
that scene, which really upset the boys. The girls cried when Elvis died
at the end; the boys were happy and applauded.
Elvis had to cut wood and plough the
fields for the movie. Joking with the irony of the situation, dressed
with dirty clothes and real sweat, Elvis said, "I got into singing
because I didn't want to sweat too much! I spent one whole day ploughing
mules. Man, that was rough!"
Elvis couldn't resist the charm and beauty
of Debra Paget and fell for her and, because of her, he broke his habit
of addressing everyone by "Miss", "Ma'am" or "Sir". He called her
Debbie. When a reporter asked him if he had any-favourite actress, he
replied, "I've got one special gal, and she's the only gal for me. But
she keeps me 64,000 miles away." The reporter asked, "Who?" With a
boyish smile, Elvis sighed, "Debbie!" Debra Paget didn't deny the fact
that she kept him at distance and she even admitted that she thought he
was a moron, but she changed her opinion later on. Debra claimed that
Elvis proposed to her, but she refused him. She was dating Howard Hughes
at the time.
The footage of Elvis singing Love Me Tender at the end was shot after
preview audiences reacted badly to his character's fate. This new
footage created a continuity error as Elvis had dyed his hair black by
the time of the additional shooting, while in the movie his hair colour
was closer to blonde.