No actor has been less appreciated than Elvis Presley; no group of films has been more belittled than Elvis’ musical comedies. In countless Presley biographies and career overviews and in most rock ‘n’ roll histories and analyses, Elvis’ movies have been written off as mindless, unrealistic, formulaic, and trite.
Yet, no Presley picture ever lost money, and through the benefit of cable television and video, audiences still enjoy his 31 features and two concert films, as well as the many documentaries and TV shows and miniseries about his life.
This contradiction points to the narrowness of the standard view concerning Elvis’ Hollywood career while simultaneously calling for a reevaluation of his films by placing them in context. Rather than bemoaning Elvis’ squandered talent and reflecting on the missed opportunities of his film career, it is more fruitful to accept what Elvis offered.
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