Best Elvis Movies

Everyone knows Elvis was a singer, but not many people know he could act as well (or at the least, think his acting was limited to fluffy musicals where he sang to little children and animals). Elvis did, in fact, have considerable acting talent - one of the greatest travesties in film is that it was never fully realized. This list sums up his top best movies.
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1.
King Creole (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Having flunked graduation for a second time and needing cash to support his crabby (and thus unemployed) father... (116 mins.)
Director: Michael Curtiz
“ Elvis' fourth movie. The King always considered this his favorite - no wonder: it's the first and only film he was truly allowed to act in with a real script, real plot, and a real director (Michael Curtiz of "Casablanca" fame). This was when Hollywood was starting to take his abilities seriously. Unfortunately, Elvis was drafted and on his return would never be given quite as good a role again.

The songs are very cleverly woven in, no random moments here, and they're all stellar examples of his early rock 'n' roll greatness (Crawfish, King Creole, Hard Headed Woman, Dixieland Rock, etc). 10/10 his best movie. ” - mburtley
 
2.
Follow That Dream (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
When the Kwimper family car runs out of gas on a new Florida highway and an officous state supervisor tries to run them off... (109 mins.)
Director: Gordon Douglas
“ Elvis's best musical comedy. Here's why: a fantastical plot that works in the same vein as Jimmy Stewart's "Mr. Hobbes Takes a Vacation," the few but catchy songs, and the relieving absence of scantily clad bimbos running all over creation.

This is just simple, but good, hilarity and shows E could have been great at light comedy. A breath of fresh air for those used to his bland '60's formula movies! Strongly recommended for a first Elvis film. ” - mburtley
 
3.
Jailhouse Rock (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
After serving time for manslaughter, young Vince Everett becomes a teenage rock star. (96 mins.)
Director: Richard Thorpe
“ Tied for #2 with "Follow That Dream" and contains the famous, fun and catchy "Jailhouse Rock" song and dance number.

This one uses overtones of the from-nobody-to-somebody mega stardom plotline that was first used in "Loving You." I almost felt this one focused a little too much on Elvis's character - in "Loving You" the other characters help to balance out his screen time without breaking up the overall flow. Not quite what we get in "Jailhouse Rock," oh well - he still is able to hold his own with the rebel-jerk role.

That aside, this is the King in the role closest to his pre-Hollywood persona: the "dangerous," hip-swinging, young and fun rock 'n' roll Elvis that mothers sought to shield their daughters from. By 1950's standards, it's a little surprising knowing that words like "sexy" actually passed the censorship code (perhaps the scene of him and co-star Judy Tyler both lying on a bed was what grabbed everyone's attention?).

Judy Tyler and her husband died shortly after filming ended, resulting in Presley never watching the completed movie. ” - mburtley
 
4.
Flaming Star (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
West Texas in the years after the Civil War is an uneasy meeting ground of two cultures, one white. The other native American... (101 mins.)
Director: Don Siegel
“ Tied for #3 with "Wild in the Country." Actually, his performance here is better than the former and I haven't been able to figure out why.

E plays a biracial man in a mixed family caught between the whites and the Native Americans of his mother's heritage. The cover poster makes you think this is a western romance, but don't be fooled - the most romantic moment with co-star Barbara Eden is probably a minute long, and it's anything but intimate (that's history for the books, considering the bulk of his films have him kissing every pretty woman who throws herself at him).

He sings only one song here, and that's at a beginning party scene. Another movie that will have you wonder why his acting talent wasn't better utilized. ” - mburtley
 
5.
Wild in the Country (1961)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A troubled young man discovers that he has a knack for writing when a counselor encourages him to pursue a literary career. (114 mins.)
Director: Philip Dunne
“ The lukewarm reception this film and "Flaming Star" received from critics and audiences is what ultimately destroyed Elvis's dreams to be acknowledged as a serious actor.

Why was this movie so overlooked in 1961? Was it because it wasn't like the popular, tame and fluffy "G. I. Blues" preceding it that fans loved and critics dissed? Perhaps. Was the ending too upbeat for an otherwise sardonic movie? Who knows.

There are only two short songs throughout (not including the beginning title song over the credits), but this is definitely more Tennessee Williams territory - not much room for singing. You can see Elvis was still working hard to prove he could act in serious roles. Again, a huge shame it was not recognized. ” - mburtley
 
6.
Change of Habit (1969)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
An incognito nun tries to help a doctor clean up an inner city ghetto, with the pair growing closer as time goes on. (93 mins.)
Director: William Graham
“ Elvis' last film in which he plays a doctor working in a welfare clinic. He hires three new assistants, unaware that they are nuns, and finds himself falling for one of them.

As with every Elvis film that stands out in some particular way, this one has the benefit of depicting some of the social turmoil of the day - something of the "real world" that is in sharp contrast to the anachronistically carefree atmosphere of "Tickle Me," "Spinout," "Blue Hawaii," etc. In "Change of Habit," there is no ocean, beach, pool, speedway or exotic location to excuse the impossibly fast hookups or merit the presence of bikini airheads (thank god). What we have instead is a poor ghetto district and the people who live in it.

However, this is still a movie with music (no dancing and not enough songs to make it a musical). There are about four or five songs that include the title theme, the addictive Rubberneckin', Have a Happy and Let Us Pray, which apparently is only one of two gospel numbers he ever sang in film.

Elvis and the entire cast really do a credible job here. Maybe he was in a good mood knowing that this would be his last. Had he been given more material like this before the musical fluff jaded him, things might have been far, far different (or, at the very least, if he'd disobeyed his stupid manager, he may have had a huge breakthrough in the projects that were offered him: "West Side Story" and "A Star is Born"). ” - mburtley
 
7.
Love Me Tender (1956)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
At the end of the Civil War, a Confederate team is ordered to rob a Union payroll train but the war ends leaving these men with their Union loot, until the Feds come looking for it. (89 mins.)
Director: Robert D. Webb
“ Elvis's first movie. It makes a place on this list because his enthusiasm and, consequently, early promise as competent thespian is so easy to see.

It's typically said of Elvis that he started as a poor actor (who doesn't?), improved quickly, but then the roles/movies started getting worse, hence leaving future posterity to bewail such a waste of acting talent.

It's good to bear in mind that Elvis never had any previous acting experience, attended an acting school, received training or mentorship in the field. So what we see on screen is pretty much self-taught, and let's be honest, how many famous actors were able to learn so quickly on the fly (his best movie was his fourth) as Elvis did?

While not incredibly good or bad, his role in "Love Me Tender" is decent, albeit minor - it's the only movie in which he didn't get top billing, the only movie in which his character is married, the first movie in which his character dies and the only one he is seen dying in (fan reaction was so strong that his death wasn't shown in the later "Flaming Star" - what idiotic fans).

It's original title "The Reno Brothers" was changed to match that of his successful song and album "Love Me Tender" - a practice that would define nearly every one of his films. ” - mburtley
 
8.
Loving You (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Deke Rivers is a delivery man who is discovered by publicist Glenda Markle and country-western musician... (101 mins.)
Director: Hal Kanter
“ Interestingly, a very autobiographical movie of Elvis playing, well, himself. There are many aspects of this that parallel his real-life road to fame, down to the 50/50 contract his character signs with his manager (was that a personal touch courtesy of the Colonel?).

There are lots of great rock 'n' roll numbers (Mean Woman Blues, Lonesome Cowboy, Got A Lot O' Livin' To Do, Let's Have a Party) and, of course, the title song Loving You.

Presley's parents can be seen as extras in the audience in this one, but after Gladys' death in 1958, he never watched the film again. ” - mburtley
 
9.
Charro! (1969)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
Jess Wade is falsely accused of having stolen a cannon from the Mexican revolutionary forces. He tries to find the real culprits, a gang of criminals. (98 mins.)
“ An unusual later film of the King where, for the first and only time, he doesn't sing. This one had potential to be one of those classic John Wayne westerns. It really did. But something - the bad guy wasn't "bad" enough, the script that almost worked but didn't (E was reportedly upset it was different from the original he'd signed for), the incompetent director, Elvis's own odd lapses into what appears to be boredom - took this one down.

It's plain that the onslaught of insipid '60's fluff his contract and the Colonel had trapped him into had sucked his early enthusiasm for acting by 1969. True, he would show more energy in his last film "Change of Habit," but even that could not stop him from running as soon as his contractual obligations had expired.

Still, "Charro!" has it's moments and for that, this one shouldn't be overlooked. And who wants to pass up the chance to see a bearded Elvis? (He was apparently so uncomfortable with the scruff that other crew members grew in theirs as well.) ” - mburtley
 
10.
Roustabout (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
Charlie Rogers is a leather-jacketed biker who's fired from a singing engagement after getting into a fight with a group of college toughs... (101 mins.)
Director: John Rich