Movie musicals have been around as long as there have been movies. Studios realized right away that a hit song from a movie could generate additional revenue which was certainly music to everyone’s ears. However, most classic movie musicals of the 30s, 40s and 50s could be counted on to maybe deliver one or two hit songs. Then along came that hip swinging sensation from Tupelo, Mississippi who once again changed the game. When Elvis Presley started making movies, the soundtrack albums in many ways became just as important as the movie content. This is where a long list of his number one hits was generated and it changed the way movie studios approached soundtrack albums forever.
A true collector of Elvis Presley vinyl will have mint condition examples of his entire movie career. Elvis journey into cinema got off to a rather curious start in the feature “Love Me Tender”. It was curious because the story was set during the time of the Civil War which doesn’t immediately lend itself to generating hit rock and roll music. However, anyone familiar with Elvis discography will know what an important role the song “Love Me Tender” played in Elvis career. To this day, that song stands as one of his most popular recordings.
For his next two movies, Elvis got to play the rebel audiences expected him to be. “King Creole” was directed by Michael Curtiz who also helmed the perennial favorite “Casablanca”. So, yes Mr. Curtiz went from Bogie to the King and helped Elvis deliver one of his most critically acclaimed film performances. Alongside the Creole was “Jailhouse Rock” and everyone knows what that movie soundtrack did for the sale of record albums.
When Elvis was drafted into the army, his movie and music career were put on hold for two years. Although the sale of his record albums remained steady there was no real chart busting hit until he returned to the big screen in “G.I. Blues”. Gone was the rebel and in its place was a clean-cut soldier who was just a good ol’ boy who liked fast cars, good looking women and had a chance to sing. In fact, one of his films “Flaming Star” proved to be a box-office disappointment because Elvis didn’t sing except for one song that was shot after the movie screened for test audiences.
If you flip through the Elvis Presley movie collection you’ll run across titles like “Blue Hawaii”, “Girls, Girls, Girls”, “Fun in Acapulco”, and “Clambake”. Each one had its own string of hits and firmly planted Elvis in popular culture. Although there are some that scoff at the fact that Elvis was really just redoing the same movie over and over again they are missing the point. These films have served as a time capsule for the King capturing at the pinnacle of his career. If Elvis was about fun and good music then his 25 movies certainly reflected that and his popularity as a star was certainly reflected in the sale of his record albums.
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