LOVING YOU, Elvis Presley’s second movie and first starring role (he’d been 3rd-billed in Love Me Tender), and while critics mewled, the public cheered, making it a hit in 1957. Sniffing, rock-averse reviewers didn’t get The King’s appeal: this spirited outing captured some of it, helped greatly by his slamming out a number of exuberant tunes, including a few perennial fan faves. His moves are downright elastic: no wonder prudes went purple. Unlike most of his future tamed-down movie gigs, this is lip-curlin’, leg-quakin’, attitude Elvis. *
Musician manager ‘Glenda Markle’ (Lizabeth Scott) can’t get much going for client and ex-husband ‘Tex Warner’ (Wendell Corey) and his country-western band. Then she spies delivery boy ‘Deke Rivers’ (Presley), sees him swagger, hears him sing, watches girls go crazy, and signs him up. Deke’s star rises as Tex’s wanes.
“We’ll give you a special name, like Tab or Rock.”
Directed by Hal Kanter, who co-wrote the script with Herbert Baker (The Girl Can’t Help It, King Creole), it was partially inspired by Kanter’s having observed Presley’s final live performance on the Louisiana Hayride program, and it plays with the real life crowd-frenzy generated by the young sensation’s appearances.
Scott’s beaming, even when putting up with the charm-evasive Corey. Elvis is clearly learning on the job, but he’s honest and likable, and slays heck out of the musical numbers. Sweet-natured Dolores Hart, 18, makes her grownup debut (as a child she’d been in 1947’s epic Forever Amber, uncredited) and came off so well that she was cast again with Elvis in King Creole.
Songs—the title tune, “Let’s Have A Party”, “Got a Lot o’ Living To Do”, the odd but winning “Lonesome Cowboy”, “Mean Woman Blues”, followed by the first of Elvis’s fistfight eruptions, unleashing some wildly energetic roundhouse punches, and “Teddy Bear” (a million seller).
“You gotta big mouth! The only thing’s it’s good for is keepin’ your teeth in!”
With Paul Smith, James Gleason, Jana Lund, Ken Becker, Skip Young (borrowed from being ‘Wally’ on The Adventures Of Ozzie and Harriet), and Madge Blake (Batman‘s ‘Aunt Harriet’). Presley’s backup boys get some screen time: Scotty Moore, Bill Black, J.C. Fontana and The Jordanaires. Even Elvis’s parents, Gladys & Vernon, show up for a few seconds. 101 minutes.
* The gross of $10,600,000 placed it #17 for the year. El’s 3rd, Jailhouse Rock, released four months later went four notches higher. Amusingly, Loving You was in a dead tie with with safe competitor Pat Boone’s first movie, Bernardine. Boone’s second, also in ’57, April Love, likewise did well, and he scored hit records from those movies, but the future belonged to Presley, at least until some brats showed up from England or wherever…