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.
Behind the Scenes of Loving You
Elvis Presley, as Deke Rivers, rocks an audience while Lizabeth Scott, as
Glenda Markle, watches the crowd’s reaction.
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.
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.
An original lobby card from Loving You.
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
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 Markle||Lizabeth Scott|
|Walter (Tex) Warner||Wendell Corey|
|Susan Jessup||Dolores Hart|
|Carl Meade||James Gleason|
|Jim Tallman||Ralph Dumke|
|Daisy Bricker||Jana Lund|
|Harry Taylor||Vernon Rich|
|Mr. Castle||David Cameron|
|Mrs. Gunderson||Grace Hayle|
|Mr. Jessup||William Forrest|
|Mrs. Jessup||Irene Tedrow|
|Eddie (Bass Player)||Bill Black|
|Musician (Drummer)||D.J. Fontana|
|Musician (Guitar Player)||Scotty Moore|
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: