Everybody knows that Colonel Parker killed Elvis’ chances of becoming a serious actor. All Parker wanted was simple, light-weight plots with lots of songs. To him, the movies were simply a means to sell soundtrack albums. Of course, the films made a nice profit, too, for a long time, as the fans kept coming no matter what was served up to them.
What is not so well known is that Colonel Parker had a secret list of seven rules which all potential screenwriters had to comply with if they wanted their scripts to become Elvis movies. Recently, Parker’s secret rules list was uncovered, and a friend of ElvisBlog divulged it to us before anyone else. Let’s take a look at Colonel Parker’s seven rules for Elvis movies and note a few of the rare exceptions.
Elvis plays the main character in the movie. His occupation is one that allows him regular access to one of the following: race car, motorcycle, airplane, or speedboat. A racing contest in one of these vehicles will occur near the end of the film, with Elvis winning the contest.
Wow, how many Elvis movies can you think of that fit this rule perfectly? The Colonel really had those screenwriters trained, didn’t he? I can think of only one race Elvis didn’t win. Brutus, the 200 pound Great Dane, beat him in a race on the beach in Live A Little, Love A Little.
Elvis must have a strong, All-American, regular guy kind of name… like Lucky Jackson, Rusty Wells, Mike McCoy or Tulsa McLean.
Of course, four smart screenwriters figured out the best way to have the Colonel pick their screenplay was to use those exact names for Elvis’ characters in Viva Las Vegas, Girl Happy, Spinout, and G.I. Blues. My pick for the two worst names for Elvis characters are Toby Kwimper from Follow That Dream and Walter Gulick from Kid Gallahad. I wonder how those two slipped through.
Elvis’ character must be given ample instances to sing songs. There will always be one or more of the following: a party, carnival, soda shop, or public bazaar, thus giving Elvis an opportunity to perform in front of a crowd.
Well, as it turned out, there were other acceptable locations for Elvis to sing. Bars and clubs showed up in a lot of Elvis movies, and he sang in all of them. There were a few swimming pool scenes, too, and Elvis never missed a chance to sing there, either.
And, how about singing on the beach? Elvis did a lot of that. Sometimes it was at big parties, sometimes it was the more intimate two-people variety. Either way, the music of a full band, nowhere in sight, backed him up.
If the leading female character is not in love with Elvis at the beginning of the picture, she will be by the end of the film.
Although this rule was almost always followed, there was a strange variation of it that managed to get Colonel Parker’s approval. In Spinout, three women in love with Elvis early in the story all end up marrying other men at the end of the picture. It must have been one heck of a pitch that convinced Parker to go along with that odd development.
The movie may have one male supporting role whose function is to be either Elvis’ friend or rival, occasionally providing comic relief.
Spinout managed to overload that rule with two buddies and a rival.
Every business venture, contest, race, lottery, scientific inquiry, game of chance, or bar-room wager that Elvis enters must be won by Elvis.
Believe it or not, there actually was a scientific inquiry in one of Elvis’ movies. In Clambake, Elvis tried to find a special hard coating to help his speedboat win a race. He gave his invention a highly technical name: Goop.
There was also one business venture that bombed for an Elvis character. In Stay Away Joe, Elvis played a Native-American living on a reservation. His people received a herd of cattle from the government under a program to prove that Indians on reservations were not lazy, heavy-drinking, girl-chasing screw-ups and could care for and grow the herd. Unfortunately, Elvis and his Indian buddies had a big drunken party and barbequed their only bull. So much for growing the herd.
Elvis must engage in at least one fistfight per movie.
Usually, it was more than one fight in most of the Elvis movies. Can you name one film that did not have a fight? My favorite fight is in the soda shop scene in Loving You. Elvis knocks the local smart-ass around pretty good while Elvis’ hit “Got a Lot of Living to Do” blasts from the jukebox the whole time.
Who knows where Elvis’ acting career would have gone if it wasn’t for Colonel Parker. He even turned down a role for Elvis co-starring with Barbra Streisand in a major movie, A Star Is Born. I think Parker also had an unwritten rule: If anyone comes to Elvis with an idea for a serious acting role, kill it.
© 2009 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net
Editor’s Note: If you ejoyed this article, hopefully you won't be too upset to learn that it is a work of fiction. Colonel Parker did not have a list of rules for Elvis movies. However, James Allenspach at Empty-Handed.com had one in a blog article five years ago. It was the inspiration for this story. You might want to check out his site at http://www.empty-handed.com/archive/2004_03_22.html