'Elvis: The Movies'

By Alan Hanson

Book Review by Piers Beagley

Elvis Presley's dream was to become a movie star, and the dream started well for him. His acting ability developed steadily throughout his first four movies. But, alas, it was the music which first gave him access to Hollywood, that proved the undoing of his acting career. The inevitable result was a long series of films with weak plots in which only the music mattered.

In the new book 'Elvis: The Movies' author Alan Hanson chronicles Elvis' cinematic career, combined with hundreds of stunning photos from Erik Lorentzen's exclusive collection.



But how could this improve on all the previous 'Elvis movie' books. EIN's Piers Beagley checks out this new deluxe production ...

A new 432 page book from Elvis author Alan Hanson in the Eric Lorentzen ‘Gold Standard’ series.

Having previously bought multiple books about Elvis and his movies, as well as deluxe photo books, I wasn't sure what to expect from this new publication. I suspect that a lot of fans will probably feel the same as I do, in that books about Elvis’ movie legacy have been done-to-death and perhaps we have seen all the photographs we need to see from that era.  But how wrong I was!

The book of course does feature individual articles about all of Elvis’ 33 movies but it also includes so much more, including a fascinating look about how Elvis’ movie contracts affected - and basically stifled - any artistic creativity plus examinations into the workings of Hal Wallis and Col Parker. In one chapter Parker in 1964 (see page below) tries to explain how the quality of Elvis' movies have fallen so low, blaming the studios, "Look - you got a product, you sell it. Me, I'm happy being able to buy groceries"!!

There are also extra chapters investigating how Elvis actually influenced Hollywood and their promotion of movies to the teenage market, Elvis' Paramount screen test, Elvis' time away in the army, the importance of Elvis's return and G.I Blues, and a concise look at the documentary ‘This Is Elvis’. There is even a chapter looking Elvis' competition and other movie idols from the time. There is plenty to read.



One of the differences in this book about Elvis' movies is that Alan Hanson eschews the commonly repeated descriptions of the ridiculous plots, Elvis's co-stars and which songs were in the movie etc, and instead looks more at the production side of the films, how the press reacted at the time and also Hanson’s own memories and recollections of what the films actually meant to him. While he only became an Elvis fan in 1962 he did get to see nearly every Elvis movie in the cinema and his contemporary recollections as an Elvis fan, compared to the newspaper reviews of the time, make a very interesting comparison.

The book starts with over 20 full-page rare photographs of Elvis from various movies, surprisingly beginning with a fabulous double-page spread of publicity photos from Clambake! These are all in great quality and make a lovely introduction being such an eclectic mix of photographs.

And while Paradise Hawaiian Style was a dreadful movie the publicity session photograph is in an unbelievably sharp quality and Elvis looks so mid-sixties cool. (Note that the above photo is from a personal low-res scan that I made of the page in my book - how sharp do you want it!)

Throughout the book Hanson raises some new, interesting, discussion points such as why King Creole was such a good film...

“Why did King Creole work so well for a young man who was still essentially an actor-in-training? It was more than Elvis' acting job, good as it was. A number of factors came together to make King Creole an effective vehicle for Presley. First, it was a near perfect role for Presley at that time in his career. Danny Fisher was a developing character that presented a challenge. It was natural for Elvis to conjure up that smoldering look and attitude that made his character believable. It helped, also, that Danny Fisher's love life played a minor role in the film. … As his later films were to demonstrate, it's hard to develop a character with girls hanging all over you.”


Or why Elvis's movies started going downhill so abruptly with Girls! Girls! Girls.

“In most of his previous film vehicles, Elvis had been surrounded by strong supporting casts. King Creole and Kid Galahad are two examples of how experienced co-stars helped enhance Presley's performance and provide his films with some credibility. With Girls! Girls! Girls! however, Hollywood began counting on Elvis to carry the entire weight of his films. Laurel Goodwin, playing Elvis' love interest, was a newcomer, and even the film's two name actors, Stella Stevens and Robert Strauss, were given very little to do. Ending the strategy of using Elvis as part of an acting ensemble meant that Presley movies from then on would be aimed basically at his loyal fan base and not to a wider audience.”


Of course the real delight here, compared to other Elvis movie books, is the abundance of fabulous photos to go with the text such as the three examples below from Kid Galahad, Roustabout and Girl Happy.

The book contains 432 pages with over 530 photographs and almost all of them not the regular images you've seen time and time again. Some of the photos with Parker on set are a little scary - and the one of director Hal Kanter showing Dolores Hart and Elvis how to kiss (see below) is unbelievable!

As Eric Lorentzen explained (see interview) he deliberately kept away from previously seen photographs to try and find new delights or, if not, better quality full-page images.


For comparison’s sake I checked photographs of both Wild In The Country and Flaming Star from my previously purchased ‘Elvis Files Vol.3 1960-1964’ book just to confirm that only two photographs were repeated in this book - but that they were now full-page and from better quality negatives.

If I have any complaint it is that I wanted this book to be even bigger with more Elvis photos, but you can’t have everything! 


Overall Verdict: I am more than delighted to add this book to my collection. Erik Lorentzen’s idea of combining his movie photos with Alan Hanson’s text works perfectly. For Elvis movie fans this book is a real gem with over 400 pages of Elvis looking fabulous on nearly every page. For Elvis book collectors it is a treat to discover a different kind of Elvis movie book since this does not feature the usual list of cast members or musical numbers but instead give you plenty to read and, in that way, help understand how Elvis’ Hollywood career changed along with wonderful photographs to match.  The fact that so many of the images are rare or unpublished makes it even more desirable. For Elvis movie fans this is a top-notch production

and PLEASE see EIN's exclusive interview with author Alan Hanson for even more pictures

To purchase“Elvis – The Movies” click here to 'Elvis Files' website. €129 including shipping Worldwide

Please check with YOUR local Elvis Shop - they may have a better deal with local postage.

NOTE Elvis Fans in the U.S. can buy personally signed copies direct from Alan Hanson. Please email him through his website contact - CLICK HERE.


EIN note, most images used in this interview are my personal low-res scans - the photos in the book are far sharper.

Review by Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN January 2018
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.

Click here to comment on this Book Review

Alan Hanson 'Elvis: The Movies' Interview: Respected Elvis author Alan Hanson, along with Erik Lorentzen, has just published 'Elvis - The Movies', 432 pages examining all of Elvis' movies and including some sensational photos.
Elvis Presley's dream was to become a movie star, and the dream started well for him. His acting ability developed steadily throughout his first four movies. But, alas, it was the music which first gave him access to Hollywood, that proved the undoing of his acting career. The inevitable result was a long series of films with weak plots in which only the music mattered.
Author Alan Hanson chronicles Elvis' cinematic career, combined with hundreds of stunning photos from Erik Lorentzen's exclusive collection. But what does this book offer that other Elvis Movie books don't?
EIN's Piers Beagley interviewed author Alan Hanson to find out more..
(Interviews, Source;ElvisInformationNetwork)

'Elvis '57: The Final Fifties Tours' Book Review: In 1957 Elvis performed in eighteen cities, including a short tour of Canada. 'Elvis ’57: the Final Fifties Tours' by Alan Hanson is a detailed look at these tours which started in Chicago and ended with the headline grabbing sensation of the LA Pan Pacific concerts and the final Hawaii trip in November. These would be Elvis' last live appearances before he left for his army stint and would help cement his place in Pop culture forever. This book is a sensational investigation into the phenomenon of Elvis in the fifties presented from a brand new perspective. The reviews from the time are exhilarating . . 
"He clutches the mike and begins to sing, twitching all over. . . Up and down the stage he goes, dragging the mike like a captive, undulating, shouting feverishly.... Then his face sets, his lips curl back and seizing the mike by the scruff of the neck he prowls like a panther up and down the platform, snarling and driving his worshippers crazy."
EIN suggests that all discerning Elvis fans should invest in this thrill-ride. Go here for full review and photos.

(Book Reviews: Source;EIN) 

Alan Hanson talks to EIN: Elvis' tours in 1957 were his last before entering the Army. Alan Hanson, author of Elvis '57: The Final Fifties Tours recently sat down to talk with EIN about this incredible year in the Elvis story.

In his stimulating and highly informative interview, Alan discusses what is in his critically acclaimed book, the height of Presleymania and the controversy around it, the Nudie Gold Suit designed for Elvis, why the Montreal concert was cancelled, the little known concert Elvis did essentially for military personnel and a lot more about Elvis on tour in 1957. (Dec 2007)


Go here for other relevant information:

'Elvis Music FAQ' - Book Review

'Elvis Films FAQ' Book Review

'Elvis: Walk A Mile In My Shoes' - EIN Review

100 Things Elvis Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die - Book Review:

The Dark Side of the Colonel


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Elvis Presley, Elvis and Graceland are trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises.
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