Monthly Archives: March 2016

50th Anniversary Elvis Movie Pictorial – Frankie and Johnny

Frankie and Johnny Movie Poster

Frankie and Johnny opened on March 31, 1966, and was Elvis’s 20th film. Although the quality of his films had fallen off during the previous few years, the fans had kept the box office numbers respectable. But Frankie and Johnny followed a real clunker in Harum Scarum, and attendance dropped about 1/3 from the usual average.

It’s too bad, because this is an enjoyable little firm. And speaking from the male perspective, it had the greatest amount of cleavage of any Elvis movie.

Sue-Ane-Langdon-Donna-Douglas-Nancy-Kovack-in-Frankie-and-Johnny

The pretty blonde in the center is Donna Douglas, talking a break from the Beverly Hillbillies to play Frankie opposite Elvis’ Johnny. The redhead is Nancy Kovak playing Nellie Bly, the woman Johnny believes brings him good luck at the gambling casino in the riverboat where they all work as performers.

SS Mississippi Queen Riverboat from Frankie and Johnny

Frankie and Johnnt Starring on the SS Mississippi Queen

By the way, Elvis’ character has no last name in this picture. He is just Johnny. And he has two problems. Although he’s Frankie’s man, he has a wandering eye for the ladies.

Elvis Checking out the Ladies in Frankie and Johnny

And he has terrible luck at gambling.

Elvis Playing Poker in Frankie and Johnny

 

Naturally this causes many uncomfortable moments with Frankie.

Donna Fussing at Elvis in Frankie and Johnny

But there are lots of fun, happy moments for them, too.

Elvis and Donna Douglas in Dream Sequence in Frankie and Johnny

This is kind of like a dream sequence the film morphs into as Johnny sings a song to Frankie called “Beginner’s Luck.” If you study Elvis’ position for a moment, doesn’t it look like the most unnatural and uncomfortable one possible? Fortunately, he didn’t have to hold it for long.

Elvis and Donna Douglas Dancing in Frankie and Johnny

Frankie and Johnny looked like they really enjoyed doing this dance routine to the song “Petunia, the Gardeners Daughter.” That title might be one of Elvis’ worst, but the song is surprisingly good. I’m going back to my 2012 blog article called Dancing Elvis (in the Movies) to add this shot. And this one, too.

Elvis Dancing with Nellie in Frankie and Johnny

This shot is part of the Showboat’s production number “Frankie and Johnny”. The lyrics say, Johnny was doing Frankie wrong with Nellie Bly. The plot sets this situation up in real life (although mostly in Farnkie’s mind), and also has it as the theme of the production number. In the show, Frankie has had it with Johnny interest in Nellie, and she grabs her gun and shoots him.

Elvis and Riverboat Owner in Frankie and Johnny

This guy is Johnny’s boss, the riverboat owner who has claimed Nellie as his own and sees Johnny as a threat. The word gets to his goon who decides to put a live bullet in Frankie’s gun,

Blackie Puts a Real Bullet in Frankie's Stage Gun

So, when Frankie pulls the trigger, Johnny goes down and it looks like he’s bought the farm.

Donna about to Shoot Elvis in Frankie and Johnny

But, no. Johnny carries a good luck charm from Frankie near his heart, and it stopped the bullet.

Elvis' Lucky Cricket Pendant in Frankie and Johnny

We’ve seen this gimmick before, but it works here. Johnny is not hurt, and the near catastrophe makes them realize their love is meant to be. Happy ending.

 

Here are some additional pictures and my random thoughts.

Frankie Throwing Money Away

This is Frankie in costume for a nightime Mardi Gras party. She has just thrown $10,000 of Johnny’s gambling winnings out the hotel window. Tension and conflicts are necessary for a good movie, and this scene had them big time.

Elvis Singing Hard Luck in Frankie and Johnny

Johnny expresses his loss by singing a blues song “Hard Luck” accompanied by this young harmonica player. Of course, an invisible band of piano, bass, drums, and even trombones is soon heard. Those invisible bands are a staple of Elvis movies.

Elvis Fighting with his Boss in Frankie and Johnny

Another staple of all Elvis movies is a fight scene. Here he is slugging it out with his boss the riverboat owner.

Red West in Frankie and Johnny Cameo

One of my favorite things to do when watching an Elvis movie for the fifth or sixth time is to try to spot some of his buddies in the background. See Red West at the table? Supposedly, George Klein had a cameo in the movie, too, but I couldn’t find him. Maybe I will when I watch for the seventh time.

Frankie and Nellie in Same Costumes in Frankie and Johnny

One of the plot points of the story had Frankie and Nellie wearing identical Madam Pompadour costumes to the Mardi Gras party. Frankie wanted to test Johnny by pretending to be Nellie. After about 30 seconds of coaching, Frankie carries on a substantial dialog with Johnny where she sounds exactly like Nellie. Of course, it was Nancy Kovak dubbing her lines. This was the second time it happened to Donna Douglas in this movie. All of her singing parts were dubbed by someone else.

Elvis in his Gambling Clothes in Frankie and Johnny

One thing I noted was all the different outfits Elvis wore in the movie. We have already shown six or seven. Here are some more.

Leading Parade in New Orleans

 

Frankie & Johnny

 

As usual, we will end this Elvis movie pictorial with him kissing his leading lady.

Elvis Kissing Donna Douglas in Dream in Frankie and Johnny

This kiss took place in the dream sequence and was sweet and tender.

Elvis Gets a Surprise Kissing Donna Douglas in Frankie and Johnny

Elvis’ surprised look here is because he thought he was kissing Nellie but he quickly realized it was Frankie.

Elvis Kissing Donna Douglas in Frankie and Johnny

Here they are later when Frankie’s mask is off and they both enjoy it much more.

 

Editor’s notes:

Donna Douglas died on New Year’s Day 2015. Click here to read more about her.

Nancy Kovak was featured in a 2009 ElvisBlog article titled Star Trek Elvis Connection — Part 2 about actresses that starred in both Star Trek episodes and Elvis movies.  Click here.

 
© 2016 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Elvis and the Grammy Awards — Revisited

Grammy Awards

Something weird happened on ElvisBlog two days ago. I can’t figure out why, but I’ll sure take it. Thursday, March 17, 2016, will forever rank as the day when the most people came to the blog – 11,370 visitors!!!

 

ElvisBlog March 17,2016 Stats

This chart shows the ElvisBlog visitors for the past month. Look how March 17 dwarfs the others (which represent the normal daily totals of 700-900 visitors).

 

ElvisBlog March 17, 2016 Pages Viewed

My blog software showed that about 95% of the total came from searches for “Elvis won only three Grammy Awards,” which is the exact wording in the first line of a 2006 ElvisBlog article. The search results had the article, Elvis and the Grammy Awards, at the top of the list.

I did some research to see if there was something in the news about Elvis’ Grammies that would have sparked this spike in interest. I found nothing.

Then I realized a lot of todays’ regular readers might not have ever read the post from 2006, so I am reproducing it here. Several formatting changes and new pictures have been added to bring it up to the style used today.

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Elvis and the Grammy Awards

 

Elvis Presley's Three Grammy Awards

Most fans are aware Elvis won only three Grammy Awards, and that they were all for Gospel recordings. There’s a lot more to the story.

How could the King of Rock & Roll not win any Grammys for his rock & roll records? One big reason is that the Grammy awards did not start until 1958. In 1956 and 1957, Elvis changed the sound of popular music and had hit after hit. If there had been Grammy Awards for those years, Elvis surely would have won a cabinet full of trophies. There is no way he could have been denied the award for these categories:

Best Vocal Performance, Male

Best Performance by a Top 40 Artist

The same goes for his hit singles. An Elvis song would have been a shoo-in for Record of the Year in 1956 with choices like:

“Heartbreak Hotel,”
“Love Me Tender,”
“Hound Dog,”
“Don’t Be Cruel.”

The Album of the Year for 1956 would undoubtedly have gone to Elvis’ first RCA album, Elvis Presley.

 

In 1957, there would have had to be a winner in this list for Record of The Year:

“Too Much,”
“All Shook Up,”
“Teddy Bear,”
“Jailhouse Rock”.

Elvis’ Christmas Album was the definitive rock & roll Christmas album of the period and would have been a strong contender for Album of The Year in 1957.

 

Elvis was off in Germany in the Army when the Grammy Awards were created in 1958, and he had no nominations. However, the next year he received three.

 

Elvis Hit - A Fool Such as I

“A Fool Such As I” was a 1959 nominee for Record of The Year, but got beat by Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife,” a really huge hit.

 

Elvis Hit - A Big Hunk of Love

“A Big Hunk of Love” received two nominations in 1959. However, Nat King Cole won Best Performance by A Top 40 Artist for “Midnight Flyer” (I can’t say that I even remember the song), and Dinah Washington won Best R&B Performance for “What A Difference A Day Makes.”

 

Elvis Hit - Are You Lonesome Tonight

1960 was Elvis’ best year for Grammy nominations with five, but he was up against Ray Charles who was having a huge year. “Are You Lonesome Tonight” had three nominations: Record of the Year, Best Vocal Performance, Male, and Best Performance by a Pop Singles Artist. “Theme From a Summer Place” by Percy Faith won the Record of the Year, and Georgia On My Mind” by Ray Charles took the other two categories. He won a total of four Grammys in 1960.

 

Elvis presley - G.I. Blues Album

Elvis also had two album nominations in 1960, both for GI Blues. However, Ray Charles beat him again. The Genius of Ray Charles took the award for Best Vocal Performance, Male, Album. The Best Soundtrack Album award went to Ernest Gold for Exodus.

 

Elvis Presley - Blue Hawaii Album

Elvis had another shot at Best Soundtrack Album in 1961 with the nomination of Blue Hawaii. Ray Charles didn’t beat him, but Henry Mancini did with Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

 

For the next five years, Elvis’ priority was making movies, and none of his songs or albums received Grammy nominations

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Elvis Presley - How great thou Art Album

In 1967, he finally won a Grammy for Best Sacred Performance for the album How Great Thou Art, which sold over a million copies and reached #18 in the Top Albums Chart.

In 1968, he was nominated again in the same category for the single “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” but the award went to Jake Hess for “Beautiful Isle of Somewhere.” This was ironic because Hess had been a big influence on Elvis.

As the lead singer for the Statesman Quartet, Jake Hess made an impression on young Elvis at the monthly “All-Night Gospel Singing” at Ellis Auditorium in Memphis. Elvis particularly admired Hess’ powerful voice and unique styling. One year before beating Elvis in the singles category, Hess was part of The Imperials who did backing vocals during the recording session for Elvis’ Grammy winning album How Great Thou Art. In 1977, Jake Hess was part of an elite group of Gospel music stars to sing at Elvis’ funeral service.

 

Elvis Prslet - He Touched Me Album

In 1972 Elvis won his second Grammy when his album He Touched Me took the Best Inspirational Performance award.

 

Elvis Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis

In 1974 Elvis won this category again for his third and last Grammy. But instead of winning for a single or an album, Elvis won for the live version of the song “How Great Thou Art” from the album Elvis Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis.

 

Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

It should be noted that the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences partially rectified their earlier snubs of Elvis by granting him their Lifetime Achievement Award in 1971.

 

If you would like to read more about Elvis’ Grammy Awards, you can check out the Elvis Awards section on Graceland.com. or the Graceland Blog article Elvis Presley and the Grammy Awards.

 

 

© 2016 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

Living Like a King at the Guest House at Graceland

Guest House at Graceland Entrance

Last week we looked at the 430 regular one and two-bed rooms available when the Guest House at Graceland opens in October. Today, we’ll take a peek at the four choices in special, luxurious suites. Warning, they’re budget busters, especially the eleven suites on the top floor, nicknamed “The Upstairs.”

The first step up is the Living Room Suites, and all four of them have a courtyard view. Although they feature only one bed, their open floor plan is touted as the special attraction of these suites. They all have a view of the courtyard.

TCB Suite and Living Room Suites at Guest House at Graceland

It’s hard to tell in this rendering (and the reservations lady had no idea), but it looks like that might be the king-size bed behind the partition holding the TV. If that is the bed against the back wall, we can assume there is another TV on the opposite side of the partition.

The hotel website says there is a separate living room area, and you can see two chairs or maybe it’s a chair and a couch, plus a coffee table. Hopefully there is more seating that we can’t see beyond the area shown in the rendering. The reservations lady said the suite also included a Keurig coffee station, microwave and mini-refrigerator. I guess they are over near the bathroom, which is out of frame.

The cost for Sunday through Thursday bookings is $349 (plus $30 more for weekends, and that hefty 21% taxes). This compares to $179 for the basic room with the view. It seems like a big premium for a rather small living area. You certainly couldn’t do much hanging out with friends with so little seating.

 

Lobby at Guest House at Graceland

Artist’s rendering of the Lobby at the Guest House at Graceland

 

Next, we take a big jump up to the TCB Suites. Big price jump, anyway. The Guest House website shows the exact same rendering for these eleven suites as for the Living Room Suites above. The reservation lady could offer no explanation for this, and to be fair, she hasn’t seen any rooms yet, as they are still under construction.

So it could be that the TCB Suite picture is correct, and that there is much more space beyond what it shows. The website says it contains a separate living room with a sofa and dining table and is perfect for entertaining. There is no kitchenette to prepare meals, however, just the Keurig coffee station, microwave and mini-refrigerator.

Considering the price, we can probably assume there is much more floor space and seating than is shown. The tab is $549 plus $30 for weekends, and the taxes. That’s $370 more than the basic room. They will probably book out early for Elvis Week and other big occasions at Graceland, because they work well as hospitality suites. But, on the off days, especially in the middle of week, it’s not hard to imagine many of the TCB Suites sitting empty. Who knows?

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Now, if you want to do some serious entertaining, the choice for you could be one of the two Vernon and Gladys Suites. These look like party central.

Vernon and Gladys' Suite at Guest Guest House at Graceland

Again, there is just one bedroom, but surely there is at least one extra bathroom. You can host a lot of people in 1,100 square feet. So, there must be more space we can’t see in this rendering. The website says there is a dining room table, which we can immagine holding a big buffet spread of food. You can see the wet bar on the left. Needless to say, there is a view of the courtyard.

The décor is inspired by the colors in Elvis’ parents’ room at Graceland. What do you think? I think the lobby picks up the colors better. Scroll back and check it out.

Elvis' Parents' Room at Guest House at Graceland

The tab for a night in a Vernon and Gladys Suite is $1,049 (plus 21% taxes), so booking it for a few days will cost a bundle. Wouldn’t you love to go to Elvis Week or the Birthday Celebration and get invited to a party here? That would be so much fun.

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Finally, the top of the line are the two King’s Suites, one styled after Elvis’ bedroom, and the other with a Las Vegas theme. The hotel website describes them as luxurious and one-of-kind.

King's Suite - Las Vegas Style at Guest House at Graceland

This picture shows the Las Vegas design. The website says it features “a royal blue and purple color palette with plush fabrics and furnishings, vintage touches and contemporary twists.” I guess I’m too decorating-challenged to appreciate how this reflects a Las Vegas vibe.

That really doesn’t matter because the suite looks so great. There are two bedrooms with king-size beds, a dining room (visible behind the couch), and a living room. A separate wet bar is not shown. Naturally, these suites have a view of the courtyard.

So far, there is no rendering of the Elvis’ Bedroom option, which “draws inspiration from Elvis’ master bedroom at Graceland and features rich red and black tones with metallic gold and silver finishes and a custom draped canopy bed, with TVs overhead.” I’ll bet that will be spectacular. Because it “provides guests with an unparalleled opportunity to live like The King,” I predict it will be way more popular than the Las Vegas version.

The King’s Suites contain 1,540 square feet (that’s more than my first house with three bedrooms and two baths). They could certainly be used for entertaining, but I envision them as the place where a well-healed guest wants to stay in maximum luxury while on an Elvis pilgrimage. And he will have to shell out $1,379 a night to do it.

 

Artist’s Rendering of the Lobby Bar at the Guest House at Graceland.

Artist’s Rendering of the Lobby Bar at the Guest House at Graceland.

 

I’ve been to Graceland five times in the last twenty-three years (four times were during Elvis Week). I’ve stayed at the Days Inn just down from the Car Museum, Wilson’s World Hotel (before it became Heartbreak Hotel), the Peabody Hotel downtown twice and the Holiday Inn Airport once. If I ever get back, I’m staying at the Guest House at Graceland. And I’m going to hang around the Vernon and Gladys Suite to see if there is a party going on I can crash.

 

Tip on Making Reservations.  The listed number is 800-238-2000, but this is the regular Graceland number.  To save time listening through the series of prompts about tickets, gift shop, Elvis Insiders, etc, simply push O,O,O. 

 

 

© 2016 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

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First Look – -The Rooms at the Guest House at Graceland

GuestHouse at Graceland

Back in July 2014, ElvisBlog reported EPE’s announcement that they would be building a 450-room luxury hotel in Memphis. It was be located across Elvis Presley Blvd from the Graceland Crossing shops and Heartbreak Hotel.

For some reason I never followed up with any additional news as construction went on. The photo below shows the progress on the Guest House at Graceland as of December 2015.

Guesthouse at Graceland under construction

We can be sure EPE had hoped it would be completed by Elvis Week this year, but they must have recently accepted the reality that it wasn’t possible. So, last Thursday they made the official announcement that the Guest House will open on October 27. They also posted on Elvis.com/news renderings of what the rooms would look like and what they would cost.

 

King Size Bed in Basic Room at Guest House at Graceland

This is the basic room for two people. You can see the king-size bed with two small night stands on either side. Between the bed and the window there is a chair, ottoman, floor lamp, and a small modernistic table with a square glass top. The rate on Sunday through Thursday nights is $159. For an additional $20 you can get a room with a view of the courtyard.

Pool Area at Guesthouse at Graceland

The Courtyard is this area between the two wings in the back. It seems like it would be worth the extra $20. The first picture above shows that the other rooms look out over the front parking area or wooded areas on each side.

 

Wide View of Basic Room at Guest House at Graceland

Here’s a view of the basic room as you come in the door. There is a Keurig coffee machine and lots of beverage choices on the left. At the end of the room you can see the back of a desk chair at a desk with a Bluetooth-enabled media hub. The room rate for Friday or Saturday nights is $30 higher.

 

More Desk in Basic Room at Guest House at Graceland

This is a picture from the opposite direction with a better view of the desk. There is a smart-phone charger just out of sight. As you come in the door, there is the closet on your left and the bathroom on the right. There is nothing unusual about this room floor plan. Pretty standard. For $10 over the base rates you can get connecting rooms.

 

Bed and Chair in Basic Room at Guest House at Graceland

I like the jumpsuit picture on the wall. I wonder if every room has the same one.

 

Elvis Inage on Shears in Basic Foom at Guest House at Graceland

Here’s another image of Elvis printed into the window shears.   It copies the one on the gates of Graceland.  Very nice touch.

 

Bathroom in Basic Room at Guest House at Graceland

And here is the bathroom featuring a terrific looking walk-in shower with a Kohler overhead rain shower and wall-mounted body spray that features 120 jets of water.

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There are four taxes added to the room rates – state tax, local tax, tourism tax, and occupancy tax – totaling another 21%. Man, everybody gets a cut. So that weeknight rate for the room without the courtyard view at $159 actually costs you $192. And the weekend rate with a view jumps from $219 to $265.

 

Two Bed Basic Room

However, if you take kids with you and want everyone to stay in the same room, you can get one with two queen-sized beds. You get an extra chair and a bigger night stand between the beds. On weeknights (Sun – Thurs) the rate is $189 plus the 21% taxes. Just like the one-bed room, add $30 for weekends, $20 for the view and $10 for connecting.

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There is one more goodie you can add to your room reservation. For $20 per person more, you can have the Breakfast Package. If that is supposed to save you something compared to just paying at the restaurant, meals must be pretty pricey at the Guest House.

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 A price break is available to all senior citizens, whether AARP members or not. It is just $7 for the rooms with one bed and $8 for the rooms with two, but it helps a little. You can also save $15 if you want the Advanced Deposit Rate. But, if you cancel your reservation, you get no refund. That extra $15 in the regular rate allows cancellation up to 6pm the day prior, so if you make your reservation many months in advance, this might be good insurance to have in case of unforeseen circumstances.

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In addition to the 430 regular rooms, there are nineteen specialty suites, eight of which are on the top floor called “The Upstairs,” a name inspired by the part of the Elvis’ mansion we aren’t allowed to see on the tour – Upstairs at Graceland.

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Next week we will take a look at these fabulous suites what kind of money it takes to stay in them.

 

Guest House at Graceland Logo

For more information on the Guest House, click here.  (Disreguard the lobby picture. omebody screwed up.  That is the one for Heartbreak Hotel.)  To make room reservations, click here.

 

© 2016 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.