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Elvis Presley Movies

Change of Habit

Ending his days in Hollywood with the type of dramatic role Elvis Presley always craved gives an ironic twist to his movie career. Though not a particularly profound film, Change of Habit does represent a change of venue for Elvis. A drama instead of a comedy, the film featured only three songs. As Dr. John Carpenter, Elvis stars as a professional man for the first time in his career.

Dr. Carpenter heads a clinic in a ghetto area of a major metropolis. He is surprised to be offered assistance by three women. Unknown to him, the three are nuns in street clothing who want to aid the community but are afraid the local residents might be reluctant to seek help if their true identities were known.

Dr. Carpenter falls in love with Sister Michelle Gallagher, played by wholesome Mary Tyler Moore, but Sister Michelle’s true vocation remains unknown to Dr. Carpenter. Sister Michelle also has feelings for the doctor, but she is reluctant to leave the order. The film concludes with Sister Michelle entering a church to pray for guidance to make her choice -- the church or Dr. Carpenter.

Elvis and MTM during Change of Habit
Elvis Presley and Mary Tyler Moore during the filming of Change of Habit.

Behind the Scenes of Change of Habit

Change of Habit was very loosely based on the story of Sister Mary Olivia Gibson, who worked with children afflicted with speech handicaps. Sister Mary Olivia headed the speech clinic at Maria Regina College in Syracuse, New York. Part of her therapy involved using variations on theatrical techniques.

How much of her story was retained in the script was pondered by many critics in their reviews, but they all agreed that the material provided Elvis with a welcome change of pace. That it was too little too late was apparent by Elvis’ lack of interest in pursuing a film career. He had let his film contracts expire, and Change of Habit was his last commitment. He was eagerly awaiting his freedom so that he could return to live performances.

Cast of Change of Habit
Dr. John Carpenter Elvis Presley
Sister Michelle GallagherMary Tyler Moore
Sister Irene HawkinsBarbara McNair
Sister Barbara Bennett
Jane Elliot
Mother Joseph
Leora Dana
Lieutenant Moretti
Edward Asner
The Banker
Robert Emhardt
Father Gibbons
Regis Toomey
Doro Merande
Ruth McDevitt
Bishop Finley
Richard Carlson
Julio Hernandez
Nefti Millet
Laura Figueroa
Amanda Parker
Lorena Kirk
Miss Parker
Virginia Vincent
David Renard
Ji-Tu Cumbuka
Bill Elliott
1st Young Man
Mario Aniov
2nd Young Man
A Martinez

Songs Featured in Change of Habit

  • Change of Habit
  • Rubberneckin’
  • Have a Happy
  • Let Us Pray

Credits for Change of Habit

  • Universal Pictures
  • Produced by Joe Connelly
  • Directed by William Graham
  • Screenplay by James Lee, S.S. Schweitzer, and Eric Bercovici
  • Based on a story by John Joseph and Richard Morris
  • Photographed in Technicolor by Russell Metty
  • Music by William Goldenberg
  • Released November 10, 1969

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