Once again, it is time to thank John Biefuss at GoMemphis.com for the research he does each year which makes possible this series of ElvisBlog articles. As the movie critic for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, he sees every movie that comes to town. And since that town is the home of Elvis Presley, he makes note of every Elvis connection in those movies. Each year during Elvis Week he presents his “Elvis Allusions in the Movies” column. An allusion can be an Elvis song in the soundtrack, a picture of Elvis in a scene, a Jumpsuit or other Elvis-related item.
Here are ten movies that had Elvis allusions in the past year. Unfortunately, there are none where Elvis was actually a character in the film like in “Lonely Street” last year. Likewise, there are no films just loaded with Elvis like Duane Johnson’s comedy “The Game Plan.” We’ll have to settle for more obscure Elvis connections.
This is one of the five movies on the list I have actually seen. I wanted to see how Elvis’ granddaughter Riley Keough did in her small part as the sister of Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning), the lead singer for the band. Riley did a creditable job as Marie Currie, who stays home and takes care of their ailing dad, while Cherie goes off on tour with the band. In a couple of scenes, Riley’s beautiful face showed a resemblance to Priscilla. She certainly looks more like him than Elvis. Riley has now done a couple more films, including the next Mad Max sequel. This girl is going to be a movie star.
Dakota Fanning and Riley Keough
The Elvis allusions in “The Runaways” are verbal. Early in the movie, Joan Jett is wearing a rockabilly outfit, and she asks a friend, “Who am I?” The friend answers, “Elvis.” The band has a flamboyant, creepy record producer guiding their career. In one of his motivational rants he says, “Elvis and Priscilla got divorced, the president is a prowler, and all the housewives are talking to the plants.” I’m really not sure that would inspire anybody in real life, but it did in the movie.
Looking For Eric:
This movie also uses an Elvis allusion as a motivational device. Real-life soccer star Eric Cantona plays a sort of ghostly, inspirational, magical muse. He points at a stereo, and Elvis’ “Blue Suede Shoes” starts to play.
Up In The Air:
The Elvis allusion in this film is so small and is on screen for just a second, so John Biefus must have the most incredible powers of observation. I watched “Up In The Air” on DVD, and it took the use of rewind and pause for me to find what he saw. In the movie, George Clooney’s sister is getting married, but the couple couldn’t afford to go on a honeymoon. So, months ahead of time, they gave three-foot photo cutouts of themselves to all wedding guests and asked them to photograph it in front of any place they travelled. Clooney got several shots, including in front of the St. Louis Airport and the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. At the wedding, all the photos were pinned to a large bulletin board. When Clooney pinned up his photos, one was right next to a shot in front of the gates of Graceland. It would have been better if that had been one of his photos.
When in Rome:
In this screw-ball romantic comedy, Kristen Bell plays a young curator at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and she is in charge of putting on a very important exhibit. All of her romantic entanglements seem destined to sabotage the project, and her boss, Angelica Houston, keeps telling her she will lose her job if a key artwork doesn’t get there in time. At her peak of frustration, Houston says, “I’ll see that the only artwork you’re ever allowed near are the velvet Elvis paintings on sale in Times Square.” I never knew that Velvet Elvises were sold in Times Square, but that pretty cool news.
I never saw this one, but John Biefus describes it well. “In the insufferably cute looking-for-love semi-documentary “Paper Heart,” comic Charlyne Yi visits the Graceland Wedding Chaopel in Las Vegas, where Elvis impersonator Brandon Paul presides. He reappears at the very end of the film, after the credits to say ‘Thank yuh very much.’ Also in Vegas, we see the Little White Chapel, where you can pose for pictures in a car labeled ‘A Tribute to Elvis.’”
Percy Jackson and the Olympians:
I really liked this combination of comedy, road trip, and sci-fi. When Percy and his friends arrive in Las Vegas and head into the Lotus Hotel Casino, the soundtrack blasts Elvis’ remixed version of “A Little Less Conversation.” It cut off a little too soon to suit me.
She’s Out of My League:
The Elvis allusion in this romantic comedy is pretty minor. Before a trip to Branson, Missouri, the obnoxious girl friend of the lead character announces, “On Saturday night, we’re going to see both of the Elvis tributes.” Sounds like a great night to me.
A Single Man:
During a classroom sequence set in 1962, a college professor laments, “Fear is taking over the world.” He disparages several phony worries like fear of minorities and fear of Communists. He should have quit there, but he went on to include the fear of Elvis Presley’s hips. Then he made it worse by saying, “Actually, that one may be for real.” Actually, that one is stupid.
An Elvis song is featured in this violent comic-book adaption. There is a climactic action scene where the teen superhero named Kick-Ass is wearing a jet pack and flies into roaring flames to rescue Hit-Girl from the treacherous Red Mist (love these names). Believe it or not, Elvis’ version of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” plays during this for comic effect.
I haven’t seen this vampire movie, but the plot description has me intrigued. In the future, vampires have taken over the world, but now they are running out of mortals for their food supply. Of course, there is a pocket of non-dead survivors led by Willem Defoe who could save the human race. Defoe’s character is nicknamed Elvis, and at one point he sings a few lines of lyrics from “Burning Love.” Dafoe later talks about how vampires can be killed by the daylight, and says, “Elvis once said, ‘Truth is like the sun – you can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t going away.’” I can’t wait to watch a movie where a man named Elvis is the last hope to save humanity.
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