Tag Archives: Elvis Allusions in th Movies

The Movie Theater: One Building Elvis Will Never Leave — Part 6

 Beifuss on Movies

There are several things I look forward to every Elvis Week – watching lots of Elvis movies, having the number of visitors to ElvisBlog spike, and reading a special column written by John Beifuss, Memphis Commercial Appeal Movie Critic.  It is his annual survey of Elvis references in movies.

Here is how Beifuss explains it:

“Every year, as I watch movies in my capacity as film reviewer for the Commercial Appeal, I take note of each reference I see or hear to Memphis’ favorite son, Elvis Presley.  In most cases, the Elvis allusion was brief: a photo of the famous face, a snippet of a song. But in some cases, the King made an impact — especially in “The Identical,” a film entirely inspired by the Elvis story.”

Let’s take a look at what Beifuss discovered.

The Identical:

The Identical Movie Poster

The inspiration for this movie’s plot was actually Elvis’ stillborn twin brother, Jesse Garon.  However, in the movie, both twins live but are separated.  One grows up to be a superstar singer known as “Drexel the Dream.” The other brother succumbs to his adopted father’s pressure to enter the ministry.  As the years pass, he is pulled by the urge entertain, and he begins to tour as a professional impersonator of “The Dream” (who he doesn’t know is his brother).  So, in the movie we have “The Dream” and “The Identical,” certainly an allusion to ”The King” and the Elvis Tribute Artists.


Big Eyes:

Big Eyes Movie Poster

The central characters of this film are Margaret Keane, the artist who created the popular portraits of strange big-eyed waifs, and her husband Walter, who took credit for them.  When Margaret walks into a Honolulu radio station, we see a copy of Elvis album “Blue Hawaii.”


Good Ol’ Freda:

Good Ol Freda Movie Poster

This is a biographical documentary that made the rounds of the independent movie festivals.  The title character is Freda Kelly, a teenager who in 1963became the Beatles’ first fan-club secretary in in Liverpool.  The office where she worked had pictures of Elvis on the walls, but she stressed that she “didn’t like” Elvis. Only the Beatles for her.



Wild Movie Poster

If you’ve seen this Reese Witherspoon movie, perhaps you noticed the soundtrack included “Don’t Be Cruel.”  Did you notice that the vocal wasn’t Elvis’?  In fact, it was Billy Swan’s cover version from his album Like Elvis Used to Do.  I have the CD, and Billy does a great job on all 14 Elvis songs.



Selma Movie Poster

In this film about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s voting rights campaign in Alabama, the Elvis reference is a strange one.  Army troops had been sent in to keep order, and one officer commented on the extremely mean local sheriff:  “If the Lord Jesus himself and Elvis Presley both came to him together and told him to go easy on the Negroes, he would beat the (crap) out of the two of them and throw them in jail.”


The Book of Life:

The Book Of Life Movie Poster

You can see the Elvis-inspired character right next to the big guitar in the poster above.  It is a Mexican matador-turned-mariachi named Manolo with Elvis hair and sideburns.  His love interest is there, too, holding a pig.  He serenades her with a version of “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.”


Horrible Bosses 2:Horrible Bosses 2 Movie Poster

Christoph Waltz plays a crooked, double-dealing entrepreneur who offers to bankroll production of the invention by the three guys in the photo.  Of course, he tries to squeeze them out.  We get a glimpse of his trophy room full of souvenirs, probably obtained illegally.  In addition to a Jimi Hendricks guitar, a Picasso painting, and a dinosaur skull, he was an Elvis jumpsuit.


Gone Girl:

Gone Girl Movie Poster 

In spite of its serious theme, this movie injects some perverse comedy, including a couple of flippant Elvis references in the dialogue. A good example is when the high-powered lawyer departs on an out-of-state mission, and Ben Affleck’s sister cracks, “Elvis has left Missouri.”


Strange Magic:

Strange Magic Movie Poster

A mysterious potion prompts a group of elves, goblins, imps, and fairies on an incredible adventure in this fantasy.  Believe it or not, the story was inspired by William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  From the picture above, it’s hard to believe the movie is filled with several renditions of love-themed pop songs, including a duet on “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”  The Elvis ballad was a popular choice for movies in the past year.


Love and Mercy:

Love and Mercy Movie Poster 

This story about the Beachboys’ Brian Wilson has a brief mention about Elvis.  Hal Blaine, a famous Southern California session drummer, is outside the studio in one scene talking to Wilson.  He says, “We’ve played with everyone, Sinatra, Dean Martin, Elvis, Phil Spector … Sam Cooke … everyone.  But you — you gotta know that you’re touched, kid, and it’s blowing our minds.”


I look forward to Elvis Week 2016 when John Beifuss will again report on all the Elvis allusions he found in the year’s movies.


To read all of the articles in this series, click here.



©  2015    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 Allusions in Commercials

New Heineken Ad

If you watch much television you certainly have seen the new ad for Heineken Beer set to the music of a remix of Elvis’ hit “Bossa Nova Baby.” In it, a guy embarks on a search for a mysterious beautiful woman with only the some enigmatic cards to guide him. Each card takes him deeper into the heart of the city and eventually leads him to the girl of his dreams.

New Heineken Ad Conclusion

That girl has a considerable resemblance to Priscilla. I wonder if it was intentional. You can view the entire two-minute internet version of the commercial by clicking here and scrolling down a bit.  The ad runs 30 or 60 seconds on TV.


You probably remember that Elvis’ songs or his image have been used in other commercials over the years. This prompted me to do a little research on Google to find them. ElvisBlog has done Elvis Allusions in the Movies for years, so now we will look at Elvis Allusions in Commercials.


BBC 2 – 2008:

Elvis and Cheryl Crow on BBC 2 Commercial

Sorry for the fuzzy picture, but that’s the best I could pull off of YouTube. The girl in this photo is Cheryl Crow, supposedly playing bass guitar on stage with Elvis. The theme of this one minute ad for BBC2 in Great Britain was a superstar band backing Elvis in concert. The producers used footage from Elvis’ Aloha from Hawaii concert and digitally added Stevie Wonder on piano, Keith Moon (The Who) on drums, and Marvin Gay as back-up singer.

 Jimmy Page and Elvis -- BBC2 Commercial

The two guitar players supposedly backing Elvis were Noah Gallager (Oasis) and Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin).


Sirius Radio – 2009:

Elvis, He Changed Music -- Serius Commercial

We get both Elvis’ image and his music on the ad. “All Shook Up” plays throughout the 30-second spot that uses film stills from the ’68 Comeback Special. Three other icons that have changed their specialty are shown: Michael Jordan –sports, Richard Prior – comedy, and Howard Sterns – talk radio.

We're Changing How You Listen to It -- Sirius Commercial


Heineken Beer – 2011:

Bar Scene -- Heiniken Ad

Those Heineken people are getting their money’s worth for whatever price they paid to use “Bossa Nova Baby” in their commercials. Three years ago, they presented a one-minute ad with another theme of a guy trying to connect with a girl.

 Close-up of couple in Heineken Ad

This time he’s trying to do it at an airport bar, and he resorts to a little trick to pull it off.


Energizer Batteries — 2006:

Elvis Driving into a Gas Station -- Eveready Batteries Commercial

There’s a nifty little story line of this 30-second ad. A guy working the counter at a gas station is a big Elvis fan. He sees Elvis drive a Caddy in and start to fill up. An Elvis look-a-like is used for most of the shots, including this one from the gas tank POV.

Elvis in Gas Tank POV -- Eveready Ad

The fan grabs his camera and goes outside to take Elvis’ picture. Here they insert an actual shot of Elvis’ face. When the guy tries to snap his photo, the camera’s batteries are dead. Bummer.


Brisk Iced Tea – 2011:

James Brown and Elvis -- Brisk Iced Tea Ad

This 35-second animated commercial is very creative. In the shot above, Elvis is in a jail cell and James Brown pushes up a book cart. Naturally, “Jailhouse Rock” accompanies the action, which also includes Coolio and Willie Nelson.

Willie Nelson -- Brisk Iced Tea Ad

I enjoyed this one so much, I watched it three times.


Nike – 2002:

Ship Housing Secret Tournamant -- Nike Ad

Remember when “A Little Less Conversation” became a big hit? And we read about how the remix version by Junkie XL was created for Nike’s 2002 World Cup advertising campaign. I can’t remember ever seeing the commercial – I think it was shown only in Europe. Anyway, it is on YouTube and it lasts for three minutes. The picture above is from the start of the footage, and the small boats approaching the big ship each contain a three-man team of soccer players.

Goal in Nike 2002 Ad

The athletes are supposedly playing in a secret tournament in a cage-like arena inside the ship. See the dark area in the bottom right corner. That’s the goal.

Players in 2002 Nike Ad

The ad probably could have been cut to two-minutes or less, but if you like soccer, it is full of spectacular scoring moves you won’t see in real matches.


I found all of the last six commercials linked together in a YouTube video containing forty Elvis commercials (the others were for Elvis albums, DVDs, etc.). Click here to watch them. They are all numbered, so click on 1, 2, 3, 4, 16, and 19 in sequence.


Leeker Beer (Dutch) – 2014:

Old Elvis -- Lekker Beer Ad

This is supposed to be Elvis as an older man. He is living a secret life of leisure on a tropical island, along with several other dead entertainers. Here are Curt Cobain and John Lennon.

Curt Cobain and John Lennon -- Lekker Beer Commercial

Others enjoying this shared seclusion are Bruce Lee, Marilyn Monroe, and Tupac.

Curt, Marilyn, Elvis, John -- Lekker Beer Ad

When a boat sails into view, the group avoids discovery by a most unique plan. Click here to see what it is.


Axe Anarchy – 2012:

Can't Help Falling in Love with You -- Axe Anarchy Ad

How do you like this look of pure yearning? It is part of an ad for Axe Anarchy deodorant that features Elvis’ “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” playing in the background. Numerous other couples suffer this same craving for the opposite sex, resulting in a strange sequence of events.

Traffic Crash -- Axe Anarchy Ad

It’s hard to believe this type of chaos would make anybody buy deodorant. Click here to see if it works for you.


There were several other good ads featuring Elvis’ songs or his image, and new ones seem to come along regularly.  So, maybe someday we’ll have an Elvis Allusions in Commercials, Part 2.

© 2014 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.


The Ultimate Movie for Elvis Allusions

For the past three years I have done an annual review of Elvis allusions in the movies.  Each time I explain that these allusions can be many different things:  like his name being used in dialog, or his image on video clips visible in a scene, or his songs playing in the background (or over the credits), or familiar Elvis trappings like jumpsuits and those famous sunglasses, or even his well-known moves and mannerisms.  But when it comes to Elvis images and memorabilia items used to decorate a room, there is one movie we must call the undisputed all-time champ.

It is Into the Night, which ran on one of the cable movie channels earlier this week.  This 1986 comedy/drama/romance stars Michelle Pheiffer and Jeff Goldblum.  They are sort-of on the run together, and she takes him to her brother’s apartment so they can hide out.  It turns out the brother is a successful Elvis impersonator, and his pad has wall-to-wall Elvis photos, albums, posters, and magazine covers.  Here are a few shots to give you an idea.

Then, the brother comes home – in costume.


Do you know who this actor is?  His name is Bruce McGill, and he has been in dozens of movies and TV shows over the past thirty-five years.  His break into the business was as “D-Day” in the cult classic Animal House.


He looks better in a jumpsuit and without the mustache, don’t you think?

So, add a white jumpsuit to the Elvis allusions in Into the Night.  But there is still one more.

As a famous Elvis impersonator, the brother travels around in a Cadillac convertible emblazoned with “The King Lives.”

Elvis never owned a 1959 Caddy convertible.  (He was in the Army over in Germany at the time.)  But this model seems so intrinsically Elvis, that Graceland has one in their Car Museum in spite of that little discrepancy.   Seriously, if I ever win the lottery, I want one of these.

And, if you want to watch a pretty good movie with lots of Elvis allusions, get Into the Night, and enjoy.


©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net



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

The Movie Theater: One Building Elvis Will Never Leave — Part 5

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.”

Scene from “Heartbreak Hotel”


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…”


The Vow

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 Guard


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.”


Arthur Christmas

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.


Note:  If you would like to read more about all the Elvis allusions in the movies for the past five years, click here, here, here, and here.


©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net


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