Archive for Elvis Presley

It’s a Weld, Wald, Wild World

Posted in FILM, literature, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , , on April 9, 2019 by dcairns

Did you know there’s an Elvis movie written by Clifford Odets? Because I did not know there’s an Elvis movie written by Clifford Odets. Nobody told me. Thanks a lot, my so-called friends.

WILD IN THE COUNTRY isn’t maybe as great as that makes it sound. Elvis actually acquits himself well, and gets to say “Hate’s a rattlesnake bitin’ his own tail,” the line he was born to say. But it clearly started life as just a straight drama and then they had to add songs when they cast the King. Fiona said, “Oh no, this feels weird,” when he first started in on the vocals. You needed Michael Palin in HOLY GRAIL guise to come in and shout, “No singing!”Inserting Elvis into a film opens up problems, it seems, despite him being a charismatic screen personality and a perfectly good, very natural actor. But the need to have him be Elvis on top of whatever he’s nominally supposed to be playing makes for an uncomfortable duality. And this bleeds over into the blurbs on the back of the DVD cases, which are a whole art form unto themselves —

Presley specialised in playing the bad boy, and this is Elvis at his baddest! ‘Wild in the Country’ features Elvis in one of his greatest and most overlooked roles; a rebellious backwoods delinquent gifted with a rare literary talent. Hope Lange is the sympathetic psychiatrist who tries to help Elvis […}”

That’s when I laughed out loud. I think the key to this form is to get Elvis’s name in as often as possible. I may try rewriting other movie synopses, inserting Elvis at every opportunity. If this Sunday [as I write this] continues to be so rainy, I may have to.

The Odets dialogue is not delivered quite as “hard and fast” as its author preferred (see SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS for an example of how it should be done) but is quite effective, hampered only by director Philip Dunne (“who never lets us down” – The Cleopatra Papers) and his devotion to sluggishness.

“[…] that’s an eventuality that won’t be eventuatin’.”

andTuesday: “I wanna get out of here. I’m young. I want a good time out of life.”

[I want to hotcha-cha-cha!]

Elvis: “Then do it, hon. Paint your toenails red and run away.”

Tuesday: “It needs a man to go to Hell with, because that’s what I want. Hours and hours of Heaven that just slides on down to Hell and we don’t care how or when it ends. You’re wild, Glenn, just like me. Unhappy wild!”

God I love Technicolor.

Here’s Sheila O’Malley’s majestic appreciation of the Elvis oeuvre, a field so rich WITC does not even rate a mention. But this is a superb piece.

WILD IN THE COUNTRY stars Toby Kwimper; Joanna Kersey; Sue Ann Stepanek; Anne Frank; Cpl. Crump; Cherry Valance; Astronaut Frank Poole; and Alfred the butler.

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Poolsideburns

Posted in Fashion, FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , on March 21, 2018 by dcairns

It is getting ridiculously cheap to buy second-hand DVDs in Leith’s charity shops. I can’t control myself. I thought the Blu-Rays of BICYCLES THIEVES, GREMLINS, PASOLINI and FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, all less than a pound, were insane bargains, but the biggest may have been the Polanski box set for 25p, working out at 5p per Polanski. Then again, when I tried to give away my resulting PIANIST duplicate copy, none of my students had a machine that could play discs.

One recent bargain was VIVA LAS VEGAS, which I recalled had zestful musical numbers, staged by George Sidney with proper MGM gusto and glitz. Fascinating to think you could see this and A HARD DAY’S NIGHT in the same year. And you still don’t have to choose.

This is certainly one of the best Elvis pics (I should see the Curtiz), and while the music isn’t exactly rock ‘n’ roll, it’s at least lively and not the lugubrious, glutinous ballad stuff that oozed from the Presley lips in other movies.

They have eye-tracking software, don’t they, that can record where a viewer is looking in a given shot? I must never allow myself to be subjected to such a procedure while watching The Lady Loves Me (But She Doesn’t Know It Yet) number in this picture. I could just about survive Ann-Margret’s entrance in the picture with my reputation intact, first seen from under a car as a pair of disembodied legs, the camera then sliding forward as grease-monkey EP and his buddy ease themselves out from under on their aptly-named car creepers (those trolley things you lie on when inspecting your undercarriage) to slowly reveal more and more of the Swedish torso, ending on the girlish/predatory grinning face and amber locks. When she then walks THROUGH the camera at navel level, the lens somehow emerging from her butt as she walks away (“director as proctologist,” someone said) I can plead innocent because the angle isn’t exactly giving us any choice where to look.No, it’s the swimsuit scene that would get me in trouble. Elvis, though impossibly-beautiful and eerie-looking, has a somehow mask-like face, even though it’s clearly mobile — he’s an uncanny valley mo-cap creature — “Elvis was behind a sheet of glass,” said Sidney — so I turn to the animated, perhaps over-animated Ann-Margret, who Sidney was evidently smitten with. And then I’m in trouble.

The King

Posted in FILM with tags , on February 26, 2018 by dcairns