I recently found something interesting on the website for a Rock and Roll memorabilia auction. It was a movie theater lobby card from Elvis’ 1957 film Loving You. Most Elvis movie cards and posters show pictures of him with one or more of his lovely female co-stars, but this one included Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana, his original guitarist and drummer. I would guess neither man ever knew this lobby card existed, so I am sending copies to their webmasters.
Lobby Card showing DJ Fontana (far left) and Scotty Moore (far right)
Loving You was Elvis’ second movie, his first in color, and also the first of several (many?) where Elvis’ character was a singer. There are elements in this film that are considered auto-biographical. Elvis’ character, Deke Rivers, parallels Elvis’ start as a truck driver; for a beverage distributor in the movie and for an electric company in real life. Once he starts singing in the movie, all the famous frenetic leg-gyrations and hip-swinging are there to produce loud squealing by the young girls in the audience. There is even a female Col. Parker-like manager who gets Deke to sign a personal services contract giving her 50%.
The lobby card reminded me that all three of Elvis’ original bandmates, Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana and Bill Black, have considerable screen time in the movie, so I checked it out again to note all their appearances. Within seconds after the opening credits finish, they are up on a town square stage, in a country band providing music for a political candidate. DJ, unfortunately, is directly behind Scotty, and is not seen much.
Scotty Moore and a Politician – Bill Black in Background
After a few minutes of dialog by other characters, it’s back to the bandstand where we get a similar, but longer look at Scotty and Bill. In fact, Scotty gets his best screen time in any of the Elvis movies — fifteen seconds in a close shot, standing beside the politician.
About seven minutes into the picture, Deke Rivers is persuaded to get up on the stage and sing a song. He chooses “Got A Lot of Livin’ To Do.” This song is now used in Viva Elvis in the big trampoline sequence, which is generally considered one of the highlights of the Cirque du Soleil show.
Bill Black and Scotty Moore flank Elvis during “Got A Lot of Livin’ to Do”
At the eighteen minute point of Loving You, Elvis’ character is now a full time member of the band. He sings “Let’s Have a Party.” Scotty again fares best with screen time, followed by Bill, and last again, DJ.
Bill, Scotty, Elvis, and DJ Playing “Let’s Have A Party”
However, DJ has a solo scene five minutes later when he comes out of a high school after a spring hop and removes the sign that announced the performance they just finished.
DJ Fontana in His Solo Scene
Seconds later, the band is presenting Elvis’ character a new guitar. Check out Bill Black, looking very dapper as he chomps on a long stogie.
Bill Black Watching Elvis Get a New Guitar
About five minutes later, we see what is in essence a 1957 version of a music video. The beginning is striking, thanks to some very imaginative lighting used on Elvis. The song, “Lonesome Cowboy,” changes mood and pace several times, and the three bandmates all get lots of screen time. The bad news is they are now a little farther back behind Elvis and in dimmed lighting. Near the end, DJ is clearly visible behind Elvis in a close shot, but you’ll never notice him, because Elvis does that incredible eye thing of his. This is where he bends his head down and looks out of the top of his eyes. Elvis’ presence in this scene is very powerful.
Elvis Singing “Lonesome Cowboy”
The next song in the movie is “Hot Dog.” For a few seconds, the camera shot cuts off the actor members of the band and shows only Scotty, DJ, Elvis and Bill. It’s fun to watch Scotty, because smiles so much and seems to be having a wonderful time. It is during this song that the manager creates a fake riot, very reminiscent of some of Col. Parker’s publicity stunts.
Scotty, DJ, Elvis and Bill Black Playing “Hot Dog”
The next appearance of Scotty, DJ, and Bill is in the scene that produced the lobby card. The band is killing time on the road, and DJ and Scotty are at a table, playing cards with some other guys. Bill Black is nearby in an armchair. He actually gets two lines of dialogue, including, “Hey, Deke. See the picture in the paper of the gals fighting over you?”
Bill Black Delivering his Speaking Part in Loving You
About 45 minutes into Loving You, Scotty, DJ, and Bill make their last appearance. Elvis’ character sings “Teddy Bear.” Although the band is visible, they are well behind him, and again the lights are dimmed until the song finishes. In this scene, as others, the bandmates move their lips as though singing. In truth, all the very fine vocal accompaniment in the movie came from the Jordanaires, an arrangement that would continue in many more Elvis films.
Taking a Bow after Singing “Teddy Bear.”
Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana and Bill Black also had significant screen time in Elvis’ third and fourth movies, Jailhouse Rock and King Creole. It would be so cool to find lobby cards showing them in these films as well. I’ll keep looking.
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