ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER QUESTION ON QUORA about Elvis that needed answering. The question was, “I watched Speedway today. Why did Elvis make such a terrible movie?” More than forty years after his death, that remains a difficult question to answer. Most people—even fans that should know better—blame the Colonel. Once, I did, too.
But I have been an Elvis fan for a looooong time and see things a lot differently as a mature, older man (actually, as a just plain old man) than I did back at the time he was making these movies and recording their often immediately forgettable soundtrack songs. Here is my answer to the question:
“I have been an Elvis fan for sixty years. I paid money to sit in nearly-empty theaters in 1966–1969 to watch many a wretched Elvis movie. Once upon a time, I blamed Parker, too, but nobody forced Elvis to make a single one of those lame movies and no one forced him to record those limp songs.
Despite using modifiers such as ‘limp’ and ‘lame’ to describe many an Elvis movie, I actually pulled my punches writing this answer.
As Presley did not keep a diary/journal, nor did he write an autobiography, nor did he give lengthy, thoughtful interviews, we will probably never know why he didn’t put his foot down after G. I Blues or It Happened at the World’s Fair or Girl Happy and say, ‘Enough!’
What we do know is that, for years, millions of people bought tickets to those movies and hundreds of thousands of them bought those records, so he kept churning them out. When the lame movies and the limp records stopped making big bucks, he started making better movies and better music.
Make of that what you will . . .”
Despite using emasculating modifiers such as “limp” and “lame,” I actually pulled my punches writing this answer: I didn’t use “terrible” or “atrocious” or “piece of schidt. (And, yes, I know the last one isn’t an adjective).
Should you want to read the piece on Quora and follow any comments made there, click here.Despite using modifiers such as ‘limp’ and ‘lame’ to describe many an Elvis movie, I actually pulled my punches writing this answer. Click To Tweet
FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page was cropped from this photo, which is a scene from Speedway. The Turner Classic Movies website sums this movie up as “A race car driver tries to outrun the beautiful tax auditor out to settle his account.” How did they fail to mention he is a singing race car driver?
Presley’s female co-star was Nancy Sinatra, who—as likable as she was—had almost zero “screen presence,” as anyone who sat through The Wild Angels a couple of years earlier should have known.
Finally, this mini-article is dedicated to another long-time Elvis fan, Mr. Joe Spera . . .