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Elvis Meets Nixon (1997)

TV Movie  -   -  Biography | Comedy | Drama  -  10 August 1997 (USA)
6.9
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A "mockumentary" about Elvis's real-life trip to the White House to become a federal marshal under the DEA, but meets the President instead. Along the way, the film exposes Elvis's humor, ... See full summary »

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Title: Elvis Meets Nixon (TV Movie 1997)

Elvis Meets Nixon (TV Movie 1997) on IMDb 6.9/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Alyson Court ...
Denny Doherty ...
Vernon
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Dodger
...
Farley Hall
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Bobby Bishop
Robbi Jay Thuet ...
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Bodyguard #1
Wayne Ward ...
Bodyguard #2
Rick Wharton ...
Bodyguard #3
Keith Jones ...
Bodyguard #4
Robyn Stevan ...
Karen (airline agent)
...
Karen's supervisor
...
Wait carpenter
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Storyline

A "mockumentary" about Elvis's real-life trip to the White House to become a federal marshal under the DEA, but meets the President instead. Along the way, the film exposes Elvis's humor, drug problem, and even him pulling a gun out at a doughnut shop. Written by Ebullient <movies@gulf.net>

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language and some drug content | See all certifications »
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10 August 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Elvis und der Präsident  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

Set in 1970, Elvis is seen in his hotel room watching "Big Jake" on television. "Big Jake" wasn't produced until 1971 and didn't premiere on television until 1976. See more »

Quotes

Elvis Presley: You know there are no coincidences in this universe, man. Everything happens for a reason.
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The President lives in the White House, the King lives in Memphis...
1 September 2002 | by (Las Vegas, NV) – See all my reviews

It was perhaps THE most surreal and weird time of Elvis' life, a life marked by more than a few such times. How can an entire film revolve around the December 21, 1970 meeting of Elvis Presley with President Nixon? As it turns out, quite effectively. We're talking the moment in time when the path of history's most phenomenal entertainer intersected with that of the most notorious US President yet. Before Nixon's Vietnamization policy wound down a war that irrevocably fractured a nation. After a decade of civil-rights unrest influenced in no small way by the race-barrier bridge that was Elvis Presley. Before the revelations of Watergate and the end of Nixon's Imperial Presidency in August, 1974. Before Elvis' untimely death at 42, almost exactly three years later. The film raises an interesting point at its outset, in the parallels between the two men's lives and their professional fortunes. By late 1970, each was secure at the top after a stunning comeback, but neither was fulfilled or truly happy. Elvis, tired of being Elvis Presley and feeling as if he'd done it all, grew increasingly bored and restless. The triumphs and excitement of his first seasons in Vegas and his first touring schedules since 1957 gave way to interminable nights spent watching movies and breaking speed limits with his hangers-on, the Memphis Mafia. Nixon, despite working political wonders and demonstrating considerable prowess in foreign affairs, was the target of millions who protested the conflict in Vietnam and his growing personal paranoia did nothing to alleviate that weight.

This is the backdrop against which this Showtime movie was set. It's an entertaining film - one I can watch repeatedly - though it has some factual flaws. Elvis did not hate the Beatles. He may have objected to their comments regarding drug use, but the bottom line is that Elvis went to DC primarily to secure a narcotics-agent badge and title. The key ingredient missing in this film is explicit portrayal of Elvis' almost obsessive interest in law enforcement - he'd always wanted to be a policeman but he ended up at Sun records in 1954 and the rest is history. One ingredient in that interest was collecting law-enforcement badges, preferably those with real (not honorary) credentials and powers attached. Yes, although apolitical, he considered himself a patriotic American. But what he really wanted was that badge. Elvis was like a little kid in some respects. And Elvis knew how to get what he wanted out of anybody. He got that badge, but he first had to get to the President.

Yes, it was an argument over money with his father that precipitated his uncharacteristic flight from Graceland and, yes, he'd never traveled solo before. He really did have no idea how to buy things and no cash with which to do so. And, yes, he really did wear a caped purple velvet suit. Nobody knew where he'd gone to, and Graceland was in an uproar. For the only time in his adult life (such as it was), he'd broken free. He jetted to DC, then to LA, and then back to DC. Most of the script appears true to accounts from Jerry Schilling and Sonny West, the two real Memphis Mafians who were there, and from others to whom Elvis recounted the story. As unbelievable as it may seem, that includes the classic scene in the DC-ghetto doughnut shop as well as his trouble with carrying guns on to an airliner and his giving all his money to a soldier.

Other inaccuracies add to the storyline. For one, I don't think he wandered along Sunset Boulevard while he was in LA. Also, though he did shoot out a TV screen at least once when the hated Robert Goulet was on it (and, yes, he uttered the same quip used in the film: "that'll be enough of that s***"), he didn't do it during this time period. The fact is that the King was fairly restrained in killing TVs and didn't make a particular habit of it.

The film's very well done, with a lighthearted and ironic feel appropriate to the actual events. There're even two references that foreshadow Elvis' daughter's doomed marriage to Michael Jackson. The actors are all perfect in their roles. In particular, Rick Peters makes an excellent Elvis. He doesn't look entirely like him (well, in some shots he looks eerily like him) but he's closer than most and he's pulled off the best characterization since Kurt Russell's 1979 turn as Elvis. The voice, the mannerisms...it's all there. A little over-the-top and far more ‘oafish' and less cool than the real thing but, hey, there was only one Elvis. And this Elvis is basically likeable, too, even if he's not the self-aware revolutionary or rockin' rebel that some in the film (and some viewers) might wish him to be. There's innocence there, too. Bob Gunton also pulls off his role of Nixon with gusto, and he does a letter-perfect job. He has the mannerisms down, the voice, the look, and the paranoia. I was surprised to find that neither seems to have played their respective characters in any other properties - they're so good at it that it's hard to believe. Richard Beymer's also good as Haldeman, the foil to Nixon and the voice of relative sanity in the Oval Office. There's even a Forrest-Gumpish moment in which Nixon appears to get the idea of taping meetings from Elvis. Cutting back to contemporary interviews with people both real and imagined (though Wayne Newton was not, as he claimed, an exceptionally close friend to Elvis) is a nice touch and helps bridge scenes and put things in perspective.

The random insanity of it all (at least, apparently so...remember, Elvis had a Plan) is compelling and the story flows like a rollercoaster. You never saw Elvis like this. And he never went out by himself again.

And, no, I don't think Elvis ever really understood the extent of his impact on the world.


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