Elvis at the Movies

A Short Biography

The King
Elvis Presley - The King
[All photos copyrighted by RCA Records]

Elvis (Aron) Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8, 1935. Growing up as an only-child, he sang Pentecostal church music, listened to Grand Ole Opry radio broadcasts, and heard blue singers. In 1954, he recorded a group of songs that enjoyed local popularity in Memphis, Tennessee on 5 singles, and the following year, the local record producer sold Elvis's contract to RCA Victor. Around this time, Elvis met a promoter named Colonel Tom Parker, who became Elvis's manager for the rest of his career. The rest, is history. In 1956, Elvis recorded Heartbreak Hotel, the first of 45 singles that would sell over a million copies each. Also in 1956, Elvis appeared in Love Me Tender, the first of more than 30 movies he made through 1972. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, after his 1960 discharge from the U.S. Army,

His earlier raucous rock and roll style was moderated over the years, and his rebel image was revised into a personification of American upward mobility. In 1968, the year in which he returned to television, he embarked on a Las Vegas-based touring act with a full popular orchestra and a gospel-like choir.... Presley's audience... continued to expand.... Presley, meanwhile, suffered a personal decline, battling public pressures on his life, middle-age weight gain, and dependence on drugs. The extent of his problems was not reported until after his sudden death...in Graceland [on August 16, 1977].

Movie Soundtracks
The covers of some of Elvis's movie
soundtrack albums

Elvis's career had three distinct phases:

  • His hit recording era, which resulted in 38 Billboard Top 10 Hits.
  • His movie career, which produced 34 feature films.
  • His later Las Vegas-style concert period.

TV Special
Elvis's 1968 TV comeback appearance

In each area, Elvis was The King. But it is his movies that are least appreciated. Granted, with the possible exceptions of the early Love Me Tender and King Creole, the Elvis movies aren't exactly Academy Award material. However, in their original releases and in almost endless TV reruns, those films brought a lot of enjoyment to his millions of fans. They also generated a whole set of songs that are almost totally ignored by the music critics. Among them, however, are some real gems, including Love Me Tender, King Creole, G.I. Blues, Blue Hawaii, Girls! Girls! Girls!, Return to Sender, and Viva Las Vegas.

In Las Vegas
Elvis, live in Las Vegas

For those who haven't seen Elvis's contributions to the history of American film, below is The King's complete filmography. Most are available at a video store near you or on your own television. Check them out! Behind the now-outmoded image of "middle America," you'll find hours of light entertainment and many fine songs that are part of Elvis's musical heritage.

| To the Elvis Movies |

For More Information

All of Elvis' movies are available on video and frequently air on various broadcast, cable, and satellite television networks. A few are also available on DVD.

For a good sampling of Elvis' music, look for the following CDs:

Elvis: 30 #1 Hits
RCA #68079-2
30 of Elvis' worldwide #1 Hits

Elvis: The Top Ten Hits
RCA #6383-2-R (2-CD set)
All 38 of Elvis' U.S. Top 10 Hits

Elvis Command Performances: The Essential 60's Masters II
RCA #66601-2 (2-CD set)
62 of the best songs from Elvis's movies

Elvis: NBC TV Special
RCA #61021-2
The soundtrack from Elvis' 1968 TV comeback special

Elvis: That's the Way It Is
RCA #54114-2
The soundtrack from the film of the same name,
and one of the best "Elvis live" recordings.

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Copyright © 1996-2015 Arnold E. van Beverhoudt, Jr.
Email comments or suggestions to: arnoldvb@islands.vi.
Last Updated: March 30, 2003