Last week we started our look at Elvis’ presence in the movies. Not the old films where he was an actor, but new ones where an allusion is made to Elvis. The research for this was done by John Beifuss, movie critic for the Memphis Commercial Appeal. We can presume his job enabled him to see just about every movie that came to town, and since that town is the home of Elvis, he noted every connection to him in these films.
Each year, John Beifus would update his “Annual Survey of Elvis Allusions in the Movies” on the website www.GoMemphis.com/news/movies . Here are more movies from recent years that remind us — Elvis is everywhere.
He’s Just Not That Into You:
As you can see from the DVD cover, this movie featured an all-star cast including Ben Affleck, Scarlett Johansson, Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Jennifer Connelly and others. Two stars that are not on the DVD cover, Jennifer Anniston and Kris Kristofferson appear in a scene with two Elvis references. While Anniston is taking care of her recuperating father (Kristofferson), Elvis can be heard in the background singing “I’ve Got A Woman.” Then another character looks through the dad’s collection of LPs and finds an Elvis album.
We get a little lesson in the history of Elvis music in Dreamgirls. The singers’ ambitious manager, played by Jamie Foxx, asks a song writer, “Who was the first artist to sing “Hound Dog?” The songwriter show his ignorance when he answers, “Elvis.” Foxx corrects him, “Big Mama Thornton.”
On May 10, 2009, I wrote an ElvisBlog commentary on legendary guitarist Hank Garland and how he deserved to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the Sideman Category. Garland recorded with Elvis on a dozen hits, including four #1s. He also recorded with seven other performers in the Rock Hall. Garland had an interesting life, but he had a car crash in 1961 that put him in a coma for months, pretty much ending his career. The movie Crazy tells the Hank Garland story, and it is full of Elvis references. Two great lines are in a scene when Garland comes home from a concert tour and tells his wife, “The King’s in town. I gotta go to the studio.” When she complains that he just got home, he responds, “But Elvis is the King, babe.”
The Brave One:
Directors never seem to tire of playing Elvis songs as background music in their movies. And, sometimes they even use fairly obscure ones. A good example would be “You Don’t Know Me,” which plays during a dinner featuring Jodie Foster and Terrance Howard in The Brave One. Elvis sang the song in the movie Clambake, and when it was released as a single it did not break the Top 40.
This is another movie with a music business theme, and like most of them, it contains an Elvis connection. Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac are Photoshopped into a 70s Elvis picture, which is seen on the wall at a party.
I wouldn’t mention this movie if this lame Elvis connection was the only one in it. The film opens with tribute artist El Vez, who bills himself as the Mexican Elvis, singing “It’s Now or Never.” The other Elvis allusion occurs when the party animals wake up in an amnesiac stupor in a hotel suite that includes a mysterious infant, a Bengal tiger and an Elvis jumpsuit. Come to think of it, that’s a pretty lame connection, too.
In the wonderful Pixar animated hit Cars there are dozens of vehicles with names like Sally the Porsche and Mater the Tow Truck. There is also one called the King, and it has sideburns and a Southern dialect, so John Beifuss decided it was an automotive caricature of Elvis. However, because King was voiced by Richard Petty, the animators may have had a different idea.
The Game Plan:
John Beifuss says it best about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as football quarterback Joe Kingman in The Game Plan. “Kingman – nicknamed “The King,” like his idol – is an avid Elvis fan whose bachelor apartment is decorated with football trophies and Elvis memorabilia, including a red jumpsuit. Kingman’s cell phone has a “Jailhouse Rock” ringtone, and his front door chime plays “Love Me Tender.” When Kingman scores a touchdown, the P.A. system at his home stadium blares “Jailhouse Rock.” Kingman watches the Elvis diving sequence from “Fun in Acapulco” on TV, and sings “Burning Love” into a mirror. When the playboy superstar becomes saddled with the 8-year-old daughter he never knew he had, he asks his King Creole poster: “Any advice?” Later, he strums the guitar and serenades the girl with “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” … The movie opens with the Paul Oakenfold remix of Elvis’ “Rubberneckin’” and the end credits find the cast dancing and singing to Elvis’ recording of “Burning Love.”
Of course, there are two recent movies where Elvis was a character with significant screen time. Walk the Line and Lonely Street have both been covered previously on ElvisBlog. Click on the links to read lots more about Elvis’ parts in these movies.
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