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LOVING YOU - Historical Analisys


The Formative Years 1956-1958

 

Id like to prove myself as an actor, but Im still not sure of my ability. Elvis Presley on film.


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In early 1957 shooting began on Loving You, which was directed by Hal Kanter, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Herbert Baker, from a story by Mary Agnes Thompson. Hal Wallis was on hand in his first assignment as producer on an Elvis Presley film. His co-stars in the film were Wendell Corey and Lizabeth Scott, both players of some merit. Coincidentally, Corey had featured in the previous year's The Rainmaker - the film on which Elvis had undertaken his screen test. Dolores Hart, in her first of two films with Elvis, played Susan, the love interest in the story.

The music in the film is raw and exciting. Visually, it was put over extremely well, giving cinema-goers the first real opportunity to witness the unique stage performance of Elvis Presley. At twenty-two years of age, Elvis was vibrant and extremely physical in his performance, and in the film, displays clear examples of his ability. The soundtrack featured classic songs like Teddy Bear, Mean Woman Blues, and Lonesome Cowboy. Overall, it was an excellent soundtrack, and still stands up very well today.

By the time Elvis started his second film, the famous jet-black hair adorned his head. His own much lighter hair had been seen (albeit in monochrome) in Love Me Tender and was only ever seen again in two of his three films for the United Artists company, namely Follow That Dream and Kid Galahad. He wore a (very obvious) blond wig in Kissin' Cousins, but other than on these occasions, he continued with the dyed black hair look for his whole film career, and indeed beyond, until the time of his death.

The semi-biographical Loving You was rather well chosen at his first full starring feature. The parallel with his own career was obvious: small-town truck driver is plucked from obscurity and after some misadventures and stormy times, makes it to go to the Big Time. Elvis's characterizations in his pre-Army films were aggressive and rebellious - filled with underlying menace. This, in a sense, seemed a natural progression from his stage image - after all, if American parents were shocked and outraged by his overtly suggestive gyrations as a stage performer, then why shouldn't they be upon his transition to the silver screen? Strangely, and despite the fact that this brooding persona seemed natural to Elvis, the studio decided that a change was necessary. When he resumed his film career in 1960 after demobilization from the Army, Elvis became, with little more than three exceptions, of note, the all-American nice guy in twenty-five more feature films.

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