Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Elvis Presley Movies

Loving You
Elvis Presley felt more comfortable in the role of Deke Rivers in Loving You than he had as Clint Reno since the role was based on his real-life career experiences. The musical drama opens as Deke -- a truck driver with a natural talent for really belting out a song -- teams up with press agent Glenda Markle, played by Lizabeth Scott, in hopes of becoming the next singing sensation.

Deke begins his new singing career as the opening act for a down-and-out country-and-western band headed by Glenda’s ex-husband. It soon becomes apparent that the female faction of the audience just can’t get enough of Deke either on stage or off. Glenda capitalizes on Deke’s sensual appeal by providing him with customized costumes and arranging publicity stunts.

Deke is torn between the attraction he feels toward Glenda and the genuine affection he has for the band’s lead singer, Susan, played by Dolores Hart in her film debut. When Deke discovers that Glenda has been manipulating him personally and professionally, he becomes confused and runs away. A wiser and more mature Deke returns just in time to perform at a major televised concert, which serves as his introduction to the big time.

Elvis Presley, as Deke Rivers, rocks an audience while Lizabeth Scott, as
Glenda Markle, watches the crowd’s reaction.

Behind the Scenes of Loving You

Elvis’ acting had definitely improved by the time he completed the role of Deke Rivers. Partly, he was more experienced this time out, but also the role had been tailor-made for the young singer. The film showcased Elvis’ best musical talents, and the plot was loosely based on his own life -- a practice producer Hal Wallis would continue in the future.

At the time, this practice proved invaluable to Elvis’ career. Since Elvis was so maligned in the press as a figure of controversy and rebellion, the people in charge of his career took on the task of remolding his image. By telling parts of Elvis’ life story through the familiar form of the Hollywood rise-to-success film, older audiences saw that the singer was not all that different from entertainers of the past.

To ensure that the film captured the essence of Elvis’ life as a performer, Wallis sent director/co-scriptwriter Hal Kanter to observe Elvis’ live appearance on the radio program "Louisiana Hayride" on December 16, 1956. Kanter followed Elvis around for a few days in Memphis and then in Shreveport, Louisiana, where the "Hayride" program was based. Kanter was able to capture the chaos, exhilaration, and confusion that surrounds an up-and-coming popular singer.

Lobby Card from Loving You
An original lobby card from Loving You.

In addition to capturing the highs of an entertainer’s life, Kanter also worked a number of lows into the storyline, suggesting a "price of fame" theme. While Deke is dining in a restaurant, for example, fans interrupt his meal to ask him to perform, and they then become resentful when he refuses -- a reference to Elvis’ own real-life lack of privacy. In another scene, fans write love notes in lipstick on Deke’s car, which recalls the many times fans had ruined the finish on Elvis’ vehicles by leaving similar testimonies in lipstick and nail polish.

To further equate Elvis with Deke, Kanter and Wallis allowed some of Elvis’ family and friends to appear in the film in cameos and bit roles. His parents, Vernon and Gladys, appear as members of the audience in the final production number. Real-life band members Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and DJ Fontana have bits as Deke’s band members.

The most obvious similarity between the real-life Elvis and the fictional Deke was the controversy both generated because of their performing style. The film explains that the controversy surrounding Deke is based on a misunderstanding involving miscalculated publicity stunts. This was central to the production team’s attempt to make Elvis more acceptable to mainstream audiences.

Showing Deke as misunderstood implies that Elvis was also misunderstood. Structuring Deke’s success along the same formula as other films about entertainers implies that Elvis’ real-life success is just a variation on the same theme. Just as Glenda tells the community leaders in
Loving You that Deke’s music is as fun and innocent as the Charleston was in the 1920s, so the producers of Loving You were telling 1950s America to relax -- the Deke Rivers/Elvis Presley story was really just a modern-day version of the Al Jolson story.

Cast of Loving You
Deke Rivers
Elvis Presley
Glenda MarkleLizabeth Scott
Walter (Tex) WarnerWendell Corey
Susan JessupDolores Hart
Carl MeadeJames Gleason
Jim TallmanRalph Dumke
TeddySkip Young
SkeeterPaul Smith
WayneKen Becker
Daisy BrickerJana Lund
Harry TaylorVernon Rich
Mr. CastleDavid Cameron
Mrs. GundersonGrace Hayle
Mr. JessupWilliam Forrest
Mrs. JessupIrene Tedrow
SallyYvonne Lime
Eddie (Bass Player)Bill Black
Musician (Drummer)D.J. Fontana
Musician (Guitar Player)Scotty Moore
BitBarbara Hearn

Songs Featured in Loving You

  • Got a Lot o’ Livin’ to Do
  • (Let’s Have a) Party
  • (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear
  • Hot Dog
  • Lonesome Cowboy
  • Mean Woman Blues
  • Loving You
  • Dancing on a Dare (sung by Hart’s character)
  • Detour (sung by Hart’s character)
  • The Yellow Rose (sung by Hart’s character)
  • Candy Kisses (performed by the Rough Ridin’ Ramblers)

Credits for Loving You

  • Paramount Pictures
  • Produced by Hal B. Wallis
  • Directed by Hal Kanter
  • Screenplay by Herbert Baker and Hal Kanter
  • Based on a story by Mary Agnes Thompson
  • Photographed in VistaVision and Technicolor by Charles Lang, Jr.
  • Music by Walter Scharf
  • Vocal accompaniment by The Jordanaires
  • Choreography by Charles O’Curran
  • Released July 30, 1957

To learn more about Elvis, see: