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"Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century."

(Leonard Bernstein)


"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)


"For a dead man, Elvis Presley is awfully noisy."

(Professor Gilbert B. Rodman)



"Absolute id crashed into absolute superego...as the uptightset man in America shook hands with just about the loosest."

(Mark Feeney on the 'Elvis meets Nixon' meeting)


"Elvis is everywhere"

(Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper)


"...especially in the South, they talk about Elvis and Jesus in the same breath"

(Michael Ventura, LA Weekly)


"The image is one thing and the human being is another...it's very hard to live up to an image"


(Elvis Presley, Madison Square Garden press conference, 1972)


"Elvis was a major hero of mine. I was actually stupid enough to believe that having the same birthday as him actually meant something"

(David Bowie)


"No-one, but no-one, is his equal, or ever will be. He was, and is supreme"

(Mick Jagger)


"I wasn't just a fan, I was his brother...there'll never be another like that soul brother"

(Soul legend, James Brown)


"Before Elvis there was nothing!"

(John Lennon)


"There were rock 'n' roll records before Heartbreak Hotel, but this was the one that didn't just open the door…it literally blasted the door off its rusted, rotten, anachronistic hinges...producing, no propelling, a fundamental, primordial and unstoppable shift in not only musical, but social, political and cultural history"

(JNP, BBC website)


"Elvis, the musician, is largely a relic belonging to the baby boomer generation...Elvis, the icon, is arguably one of the most potent symbols of popular culture"

( Dr. John Walker)


"It [rock & roll] was always about Elvis; not just because he was Elvis, but because he was the big star"

(Bono from U2)


"If they had let me on white radio stations back then, there never would have been an Elvis"

(Little Richard)


"Elvis loved opera, and he especially liked Mario Lanza. He would watch The Student Prince which was set in Heidelberg, over and over again. He loved the power of the big voices. And he loved big orchestras. He liked real dramatic things"

(Marty Lacker in 'Elvis and the Memphis Mafia')


"If life was fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead"

(Johnny Carson)

Elvis' #1 Pop Singles on Cashbox, USA:

Heartbreak Hotel (1956)

Don't Be Cruel (1956)

Hound Dog (1956)

Love Me Tender (1956)

Too Much (1957)

All Shook Up (1957)

Teddy Bear (1957)

Jailhouse Rock (1957)

Don't (1958)

Stuck On You (1960)

It's Now Or Never (1960)

Are You Lonesome Tonight? (1960)

Surrender (1961)

Good Luck Charm (1962)

Return To Sender (1962)

In The Ghetto (1969)

Suspicious Minds (1969)

Burning Love (1972)

(The Cashbox chart is now defunct)

Elvis Facts:

Elvis was 5' 11" tall


Elvis' natural hair color was dark blond


Elvis' blood type was O Positive


Elvis' shoe size was 11D


One of Elvis'( maternal) ancestors, Morning White Dove (born 1800, died 1835), was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian


Elvis' uncle, Noah Presley, became Mayor of East Tupelo on January 7, 1936


The Presley family moved to Memphis on November 6, 1948


Elvis was issued a Social Security card in September 1950 with the # 409-52-2002


In 1954 some of the shows played by Elvis & The Blue Moon Boys were at the Overton Park Shell; the Bel-Air Club; Sleepy-Eyed John's Eagle's Nest Club and the Louisiana Hayride


Elvis' first manager was Scotty Moore, then Bob Neal, before signing with Colonel Tom Parker


The first DJ to play an Elvis record was Fred Cook (WREC), not Dewey Phillips (WHBQ). However, Dewey had the distinction of being the first DJ to play an Elvis record in its entirety


Elvis once dated famous stripper, Tempest Storm


Elvis was filmed from the waist up only during his 3rd and final appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show


In the 50s Elvis was friendly with rising stars, Natalie Wood, Robert Wagner and Ty (Bronco Lane) Hardin


Gladys Presley was 46 years old when she died, not 42, as many books suggest


The Roustabout album sold 450,000 copies on its initial release, 150,000 copies more than any of the preceding three soundtrack LPs. It was Elvis' last "soundtrack" album to reach #1 on the major album charts in the US


Elvis received $1m for filming Harum Scarum (aka Harum Holiday). The film grossed around $2m in the US


Elvis and Priscilla married on May 1, 1967


They were officially divorced on October 9, 1973


Elvis earns nearly $3.5m in 1968 and pays just over $1.4m in income tax


Elvis' return to live performing in Las Vegas on July 31, 1969 was in front of an "by invitation only" audience. Stars in attendance included Wayne Newton, Petula Clark, Shirley Bassey, Burt Bacharach and Angie Dickinson


On January 9, 1971, the national Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) announced Elvis as one of "The Top Ten Young Men of the Year". Elvis spoke at the official awards ceremony on January 16


"Elvis: Aloha From Hawai" made entertainment history on January 14, 1973, when it was beamed around the world by satellite. In the Philippines it drew 91% of the audience, in Hong Kong 70%. The viewing audience was estimated at more than 1 billion


For his 4 week Hilton Vegas season in August 1973 Elvis received $610,000

Sales of Elvis' 1973 album, Raised On Rock, were less than 200,000 units on its initial release


Elvis paid $2,959,000 in income tax in 1973


In December 1976 Elvis was sworn in as a special deputy sheriff of Shelby County (Memphis) by Sheriff Gene Barksdale


Elvis' final live concert was in Indianapolis on June 26, 1977

When Elvis died, he and his father Vernon, were embroiled in an FBI investigation called Operation Fountain Pen

More than 1,500 books have been published about The King in more than 30 languages


At Dec 2005 Elvis' biggest selling album in the US is the budget priced, Elvis' Christmas Album, with accredited sales of 9 million units (fingers crossed it reaches 10 million to give Elvis his first "Diamond" award)


By early2006, Sony BMG's "collectors label", Follow That Dream, had released more than 50 Elvis CDs


During the 1980s, tour guides at Graceland stated that Elvis' biggest selling album (globally) was Moody Blue, with sales exceeding 14 million


While Sony BMG estimates Elvis' global sales exceed 1 billion, the company is unable to substantiate this figure. Accredited sales worldwide are estimated to be less than 400 million
















































































































































































































































































Book Review:

Elvis Cinema and Popular Culture

Douglas Brode; McFarland & Company, Publishers; 2006; Softcover; 311 pages; ISBN: 0786425261

Elvis' body of film work is one which usually sparks dismissive bemusement. Yet is it really of such inconsequence?

While many film author's discuss the Elvis film within its commonly accepted prosaic framework, others dare to turn the argument upside down, shake out the cobwebs and don a new pair of glasses to reframe our focus. In so doing, film heretics like Douglas Brode offer a profoundly rich crystallisation and realisation of the changing realities which overtly and subtly constitute Elvis film.

Douglas Brode's scholarly examination of the sub-layers and political themes of Elvis' 33 motion pictures is a resonant revelation. Stripping away the routine, brazen classification that the Elvis film was simply an escapist diversion devoid of meaningful qualities, Brode brings vibrant life to what is in actuality a complex body of film art replete with multi-layered meaning and motifs.

The author adopts his own fresh classification system for Elvis' films, giving them a significance which traverses a broad and changing spectrum of the socio-political. Each film is examined in detail and also considered in the context of Elvis' full body of film work. Elvis may have originally died for our sins but in time he would again rock the establishment!

Elvis as auteur, Elvis as a mirror of socio-political forces, Elvis as star...these and other seminal themes are vividly drawn out and illuminated in a thought provoking exploration of forces at work in and outside the Elvis film.

Brode reflects:

Mojo Nixon overstated the situation when he argued that "Elvis wiped out four thousand years of Judeo-Christian uptightness about sex in fifteen minutes of TV". Still, that statement offers something of the situation's reality, as Elvis' TV appearances

intimidated the adults of America and drove their kids into a frenzy. Parents said Elvis was suggestive, lewd, a greaser. To kids that was just the point...He used his music as an open invitation to release, and [young people] took him up on it.

Many will enjoy the author's discussions on changing sexual politics in the Elvis film and its reflection of changing social mores. Similarly, when the author raises elements of religiosity, the Playboy type character, the changing face of villainy in the 60s, and race, our minds are opened to a plane of thought the misinformed would generally have us scoff at.

To fully understand Brode's argument the reader needs to place Elvis in several guises, using an underlying vision of Elvis as ancient mythic hero incarnate, a concept readily apparent in society's ongoing fascination with him through daily references in both the media and everyday life. Once this is accepted, the logical course that the symbolic Elvis takes in his films flows satisfyingly from one idea to another. And when intersposed with its arrival at a time of radical transition from "one America to another", Elvis film work assumes a significance which in its own way makes sense of the tensions and inconsistencies its visual and narrative text contains.

Using Elvis' films as a mirror of the King's life, Brode observes:

Priscilla's autobiography reveals with touching honesty her deep desire to make sense of what went wrong with their marriage; she only needed to watch Double Trouble to discover her husband's open admission as to his obsession with underage girls.

Earlier in Elvis Cinema the author dissects the Elvis film character in the definitional construct of "poor white trash", lifting the bar for his analysis to a new level when discussing the Toby Kwimper character in Follow That Dream:

Even here, though, there's as much of Li'l Abner to Toby as Wyatt Earp. When the gangsters import hit men, Toby mistakes them for visiting hunters. An American innocent, this Candide of the canebrake unknowingly defeats them while trying to help what he believes to be likeable lost fellows. Elvis embodies a notion of the yokel as wise fool that cuts back through Al Capp's comic strips to the first Toby carciature from the twentieth century's early days.

Another salient argument surfaces in considering the re-invention of work and changing value systems in the early 60s:

Follow That Dream illustrates [Malcolm] Forbes' thesis: Work was then being re-invented, both by white collar youth (Blue Hawaii) and blue collar (this film). Elvis' entire generation rebelled against 1950s consumerism and wanted to enjoy the process of getting rich as much as the rewards.

In addition, Brode deftly argues a cogent case for the Elvis film as art. Placing it within the structural and defining elements of creative expression of self, social significance and semiotics, he offers an innovative view on its meaning in both a linear and lateral sense.

In arguing for Elvis Cinema as art, he implicitly and explicitly is also talking about popular culture. It is an sad comment on society and media commentators that we often devalue those things which are not considered, politically, to have intrinsic value, yet which are the very things that provide meaning to, and motivational gel in our lives.

Elvis Cinema and Popular Culture may sound as though it is high brow, and in one sense it is. However, what is particularly appealing about the author's narrative is that it is easily accessible to a spectrum of readers.

Mixing innocence and primal change, Brode takes us on a fascinating journey to examine where the "reel" ends and the "real" begins.

Verdict: Douglas Brode's Elvis Cinema and Popular Culture challenges our preconceptions of what Elvis' film work was all about. It lifts our thinking beyond the prosaic and myth infused, and in so doing opens up our horizons to a wonderfully coherent and brightly technicolored filmic feast. Recommended.

Buy "Elvis Cinema and Popular Culture"

Comment on this review



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"Elvis Presley is the supreme socio-cultural icon in the history of pop culture"

(Dr. Gary Enders)


"Elvis is the 'glue' which holds our society together....which subconciously gives our world meaning"



"Eventually everybody has to die, except Elvis"

(humorist Dave Barry)


"He is the "Big Bang", and the universe he detonated is still expanding, the pieces are still flying"

(Greil Marcus, "Dead Elvis")


"I think Elvis Presley will never be solved"

(Nick Tosches)


"He was the most popular man that ever walked on this planet since Christ himself was here"

(Carl Perkins)


"When I first heard Elvis' voice I just knew I wasn't going to work for anybody...hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail"

(Bob Dylan)


"When we were kids growing up in Liverpool, all we ever wanted was to be Elvis Presley"

(Sir Paul McCartney)


"You can't say enough good things about Elvis. He was one of a kind"

(Johnny Cash)


"And don't think for one moment he's just a passing fancy....he's got enough of it to keep him on top for a long time"

(R. Fred Arnold, Fury magazine, Aug 1957)


"It isn't enough to say that Elvis is kind to his parents, sends money home, and is the same unspoiled kid he was before all the commotion began. That still isn't a free ticket to behave like a sex maniac in public"

(Eddie Condon, Cosmopolitan)

Elvis records reaching #2 & #3 on the Cashbox Pop Singles chart:

#2: A Fool Such As I (1959)

#2: A Big Hunk Of Love (1959)

#3: Hard Headed Woman (1958)

#3: One Night (1958)

#3: (You're The Devil) In Disguise (1963)

Elvis Facts:

Tickets for Elvis' show on March 29, 1957 in St. Louis cost $2.00 to $2.50

While in Germany Elvis was hospitalised with tonsillitis in October 1959

Despite being an illegal immigrant, photographic evidence shows Colonel Tom Parker traveled to Canada with Elvis in 1957

Elvis strongly believed there weren't enough good songs in King Creole to justify releasing a soundtrack album. RCA initially agreed, releasing two very successful EPs from the movie. A soundtrack LP eventually followed

During the 1960s Elvis had his own football team, Elvis Presley Enterprises, which played in the Memphis touch football league. In the 1962 final, EPE narrowly lost to Delta Automatic Transmission, 6-13

In Clambake, (Elvis) Scott Hayward's driving licence shows February 23, 1940...taking 5 years off Elvis' real age

In the 1970s Elvis was offered $5m to stage a concert in front of the Pyramids in Egypt. When the Colonel declined the offer, Saudi billionaires raised the offer to $10m