Thirty-five years after his death, Elvis’ connection with movies shows no sign of ending. As a teenager, Elvis worked as an usher at Loew’s State Theater in downtown Memphis. In the late 50s, he started his career in movies, and it continued until 1969 for a total of 31 films. In the 70s, we had the Elvis theatrical documentaries “Elvis on Tour” and “Elvis: That’s the Way It Is.” In the later years were had movies about Elvis like “Heartbreak Hotel.” “Bubba Ho-Tep,” and “Lonely Street.”
However, Elvis’ name, image, songs, iconic accessories and famous quotes continue to be found in movies year after year. These are called Elvis allusions, and John Beifuss, movie critic for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, has chronicled them for seventeen straight years. He watches every movie that comes to town and makes notes on any allusion to Elvis. He posts them on the newspaper’s website during Elvis Week each year. Here are the most significant ones in John Beifuss’ 2012 Elvis Allusions in the Movies.
Men in Black lll
As this series gets into even more bizarre science fiction, Agent J (Will Smith) must take a trip into the past in order to save both the future and his partner Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). So how does Agent J describe the appearance of his missing partner? He says K has, “sort of a surly Elvis thing happening with him…”
Actually, the allusion in this movie is to Scotty Moore and Elvis’ first single. Channing Tatum plays a music producer who dislikes computer-affected music and cites Elvis early Sun recordings as his ideal: “The records I like have life and warmth and soul – like the slap-back on Scotty Moore’s guitar on ‘Mystery Train’… Come on, you can’t get the Sun Sessions on your laptop.”
The title character is an Irish cop with a taste for alcohol, drugs, and hookers. But, he turns out to be a good guy and an Elvis fan. One line of dialog has him asking, “D’ya know where I’d like to be? Tupelo. Birthplace of the King.”
The Pirates: Band of Misfits
Aardman Animations, those talented folks who gave us Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run have come up with another stop-motion winner. In the movie, there is a competition for the “Pirate of the Year” award. An interesting group goes after it, including the Pirate King, who wears (what else?) a pirate jumpsuit.
The movie’s website says, “He’s Elvis and a hurricane rolled into one.
God Bless America
This movie went straight to video, so technically it doesn’t fit the movie theater analogy in this article’s title. The poster above hints that it’s not a very pleasant story. In it, the guy teaches the teenage girl to shoot guns by popping a bunch of teddy bears nailed to trees. He says, “I think Elvis would be proud.” Well, we know Elvis loved shooting his guns, but I think he would have drawn the line at teddy bears.
the Killer Elite
The first Elvis reference in this badass action thriller is rather gruesome. After an assignment, an assassin confirms, “He’s dead. He’s dead as Elvis.” The second line is better: “Stop the car. We gotta be sure Elvis has left the building.”
Another Aardman Animations gem, but computer-generated this time. And, it contains yet another variation of the famous line about Elvis. On Christmas Eve, an announcement echoes through the North Pole toy factory: “Santa has left the building.”
Which brings us back to the theme of this article. The movie theater is one building Elvis has never left.