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  Loving You The King Is Alive
Year: 1957
Director: Hal Kanter
Stars: Elvis Presley, Lizabeth Scott, Wendell Corey, Dolores Hart, James Gleason, Ralph Dumke, Paul Smith, Kenneth Becker, Jana Lund, Grace Hayle, Skip Young
Genre: Musical, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Glenda Markle (Lizabeth Scott) is managing the band of her ex-husband Walter Warner (Wendell Corey) and has secured him a gig providing the entertainment for a prospective governor. Walter isn't happy, but it's better than nothing and offers the band regular work, but he is reluctant to admit he might be over the hill. At one event, Glenda is impressed by the look of one young man delivering the crates of beer, and it turns out his name is Deke Rivers (Elvis Presley) - if only he could sing. But wait - it turns out he can, and very well at that...

Loving You was Elvis's first film in colour, and only his second screen role (for some reason his movies went back to black and white after this). If you couldn't get to a concert to see the megastar in 1957, then watching him here was the next best thing, especially if you didn't live in the United States as he would never tour abroad. And to witness him with his newly dyed, jet black hair in this was quite something, especially as the musical numbers were very much patterned after his live shows, quite unlike the cinematic efforts that followed.

The story is intended to be a lightly fictionalised version of Elvis's actual rise to fame, so instead of sinister svengali Colonel Tom Parker (who is listed as technical advisor in the credits) being the manager, you are offered Lizabeth Scott as a hard-headed yet considerably more sympathetic character. It is Glenda who discovers Deke and persuades him to join Walter's band, and soon the public is impressed with this gyrating singer and turning up to see him in their droves, giving him a taste of success that being a delivery boy would not.

The plot is somewhat flimsy, but it does include some of the problems as well as the benefits the real Presley would be having: obsessed fans, jealous boyfriends, dealing with the establishment's opprobrium, that sort of thing. As with just about every one of his films afterwards, he ends up in a fistfight (he could certainly throw a punch), which interestingly is shown to be sexually exciting to the girlfriend (Jana Lund) of his opponent, leading to the star's first screen kiss. He does have a proper romance which doesn't really get off the ground until the last five minutes, however.

The object of his affection is not Glenda, although there is some tension in that department, but with one of the other singers with the band, Susan (Dolores Hart, the rising star who left Hollywood at the height of her success to become a nun). But Walter feels envious that Deke is getting all Glenda's attention, leading to some hackneyed plotting that merely fills time between the songs, which is what most of the audience would be wanting to hear anyway. Among those recognisable tunes are the title track, Teddy Bear and Got a Lot o' Living To Do, and if Elvis is wooden elsewhere, then he has true electricity when he performs his music. His parents appeared as extras in the final concert, leading him to never watch this again after his mother died, a bit of trivia that is probably more interesting than the drama in Loving You, though it did record the man in his fifties prime.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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