Saturday, September 27, 2014

Elvis the Actor

Elvis was king of rock 'n roll, but he also had the chops for acting.  He wanted to get beyond his teenage heart-throb fluff movies.  He wanted to sink his teeth into some serious roles.  It's just too bad that he never got that chance - or couldn't recognize it when it passed under his nose.  There were only a couple of times that he got to scratch at the surface with Love Me Tender (1956) and Charro (1969).

He had agreed to do Charro because he had read the script and it was a movie that he didn't have to sing.  He was disappointed when he got on the set the first day and found out that the script had been completely overhauled to his disliking.  It would've been interesting to see him in movies that didn't simply rely on his personality and presence.  I would've liked to have seen Elvis get that chance, with a good script and a good director.

Elvis might've let that chance slip from his fingers.  He was offered the role John Norman Howard in the 1976 remake of A Star is Born that eventually went to Kris Kristofferson.  Elvis didn't like the idea that he would have to portray such a weak man.  Hey Elvis, IT'S CALLED ACTING!   I really believe the part was written for him.  If he wanted to break out of the typecasting, the rut he had been wedged in all those years, he should've taken that part and play weak.  You also have to throw Colonel Tom Parker in the mix, making any possibility of accepting  or getting the role impossible.

Kristofferson played the part well, but I believe A Star Is Born could've been a Hollywood benchmark movie if Elvis Presley had taken that role.  Sure he would've had to have sung a little, but this wasn't going to be the same template of his past films.  I believe he would've taken the audience deeper by putting a little more flesh on that character.  I believe his personal appeal and connection with the audience down through the years would've played to his advantage in this story.  He really could've done something with that part, but let it go for a silly reason so as to not appear a vulnerable and flawed man.

But maybe, just maybe Elvis didn't want to take that role because the character was in fact a little too real for him, a little too close to home.  Looking at his life; what he'd just been through as an artist, surviving the British Invasion, his coming back, maybe he thought he might lose ground.  But maybe, just maybe his comeback to movies would've been even more a triumph if he'd thrown himself into that John Norman Howard character.  This is just my conjecture.

We'll never know.
  Elvis died in 1977.  He went out big even though he never made his imprint on film like he wanted to do.
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