Treat Yourself: Go See ‘Elvis’ the Movie

by on June 29, 2022 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Colleen O’Connor

Stressed out?  Feeling drained?  Angry or a little anxious about all the chaos?

You are not alone. The whole world shares your pain.

According to a new Gallup Poll, the world is “more stressed out than ever.”

“In 2021, four in 10 adults worldwide said they experienced a lot of worry (42%) or stress (41%), and slightly more than three in 10 experienced a lot of physical pain (31%). More than one in four experienced sadness (28%), and slightly fewer experienced anger (23%).”

Already at or near record highs in 2020, these experiences of stress, worry and sadness ticked upward in 2021 and set new records.”

Fear not, Hollywood had given us a $10 solution. Go to the movies. Escape.

Covid-19 brought us Downton Abbey, Death on the Nile and Dr. Strange. Great cinematography and storytelling.

Now we can enjoy Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick. This is a super tech-laden, wishful-thinking movie, about America’s military still being the best, fastest, and most intelligent in the world.

Even the critic site Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 97 score. An absolute summer blockbuster hit.

While so many wars have gone so wrong—and still are—it is a great sensation to believe again.

Next, Elvis, the movie, just opened last week and tied Maverick at the weekend box office take.  This movie, too, is a blessed relief from all the bad news headlines.

While it scores far less that the popular Maverick 78 v. 97, something about it makes it more moving; more memorable; and made for this moment.

Start with the guaranteed Oscar-winning star performance by Austin Butler. His flawless, jaw-dropping rendition of Elvis’ rhythmic contortions (worthy of Olympic gold) and his mesmerizing vocals of Elvis’s iconic hit songs, all returns the audience to another time.  A wistful, albeit conflicted, time.

My memory of Elvis was the 1956 appearance on the family-friendly Ed Sullivan show.  Sullivan, the beloved TV host felt the singer was “unfit for family viewing” and even said publicly that Presley “was not my cup of tea.” U.K.’s Express.

Sullivan famously announced to the expectant audience that Elvis would sing but would be filmed only from the waist up.  No suggestive wiggles here.  65 million viewers tuned in to see the most famous singer on the planet.

Sullivan booked Elvis for three shows.

That time of the late fifties, sixties, seventies is covered in the film. Fear of Communism, Vietnam, Civil Rights, the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK — when America was likewise beset with violence, riots, and once unfathomable hate.

The wistful part of the film comes with the moving, literate condolences from LBJ after the death of Bobby Kennedy and Jimmy Carter’s memorial to Elvis’ passing — both delivered to console a grieving nation.

Elvis, the movie, contains some errors (no spoiler alert here) but, earns extra kudos for chronicling Elvis’ debt to the Black culture of Memphis, Tennessee.  To the soulful songs in Black churches, singers, songwriters and performers that pioneered R&B, jazz, and Rock’n roll tunes that Presley made popular with white audiences; all in the midst of segregation and tumultuous Supreme Court rulings.

Paraphrasing here, the remark that “if you can’t say what you want– sing.”

Sing it out loud with passion and energy and dance and praise the Lord with gospel songs.

Elvis did all that, but his life was filled with sadness, drugs, infidelity, and loneliness.  Addicted to the adoration of his screaming fans. And to his singing. That is where he felt himself to be himself.

So, treat yourself.  Go see Elvis and enjoy the “King of Rock ‘n Roll.”















{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page June 29, 2022 at 1:14 pm

I’m not much of a theater goer anymore but I will definitely watch for this when I can get it at home. Thanks for the review.

I remember the 1956 concert. We were living in Hawaii and I was five and a half years old. It was a big enough deal that I remembered it. The whole family was gathered in the living room to watch it. Elvis opened by saying he was going to sing a sad song and then broke into Hound Dog. I think he got to where he sang “I ain’t nothing but a hound dog…” when a storm blew out the power on nearly the whole island. This was 1956 and Hawaii wasn’t even a state yet. By the time the power came back own the whole show was over.

Thanks to today’s amazing technology, that performance can be seen here:


Frances O'Neill Zimmerman July 1, 2022 at 2:55 pm

No question, good movies are the cure for what ails us after a terrible week. The Pandemic may yet destroy traditional movie-going, so do find “Elvis” at a theater near you and enjoy this wild Baz Luhrman film. Next up for me are Tom Cruise and the Minions.

Over two days, I saw “Elvis” on a huge Lot screen and watched a Netflix CD “House of Gucci” (2020) at home on my television set. I’m still thinking about them both. (“Gucci” has Adam Driver, Lady Gaga, Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino and Jered Leto, is directed by Ridley Scott and includes Italian elegance, fashion, fancy cars and houses, espressos al fresco and murderous plotting.)

The best parts of “Elvis” were the scenes of Memphis’ Beale Street Black music clubs and depictions of rural Black evangelical tent gatherings that were Elvis’ most profound influences and his heart’s true musical home. Elvis’ impressionable cracker White youth stood in poignant contrast to the world of cut-throat conventional commercial success and excess enabled by his exploitive manager’s (a weird Tom Hanks) recording contracts, television specials and ultimately a death-dealing endless Las Vegas casino gig. I’d always dismissed Elvis as an early cultural appropriator, but he was the real deal. I see him differently now, thanks to this film.


Douglas Blackwood July 1, 2022 at 10:16 pm

Heard “Hound Dog”; on my way to summer camp, wow that was rock power we had never experienced. I too saw Elvis on: Ed (reallly big shew) Sullivan on the floor with my sibs; I wanted to get right in front of the speaker, cause I knew my Dad was volume control. Dad stated, “That’s not music!”
Never paid attention to another thing he said.
Forever transformed: ” my life was saved by rock’n roll”.


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