Elvis – Love Me Tender 1957

Elvis Presley’s first film. This is the only film he made where he didn’t get Star Billing – he played second fiddle to Richard Egan and Debra Paget.

After watching  Elvis Presley’s debut film in its entirety and in widescreen, and I think it’s a good deal better than it’s usually given credit for. Richard Egan plays Vance Reno, who is serving in the Civil War and returns home after the war ends to join his family and reunite with his lover (Debra Paget). But a tragedy ensues when it’s learned that while he was away, his young brother Clint (Elvis) fell in love with and married his girl, after hearing that Vance had died. Also factoring into the trouble is that Vance has kept some Union cash which he never delivered to its destination when he found out the war had ended in the interim.

This turned out to be a good, solid story with fine performances, especially by Richard Egan. But again, Elvis is very good as a completely first-time novice actor. He always wanted to be on the big screen from youth, after admiring James Dean, Marlon Brando and Tony Curtis. For a film fan who never had any professional acting training or experience, he’s really quite good as Clint Reno. Though he didn’t want to sing in this film, Presley was already a big recording star so of course there had to be songs in the movie. The title tune is a classic and it’s very emotional as performed within the context of the film. I also like the singalong ditty “We’re Gonna Move”, which is performed by Elvis on the front porch “1950s-style” with his family, even though it’s 1865. Other songs include “Let Me” and “Poor Boy”.

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