The untold true story behind the meeting between Elvis Presley, the King of Rock 'n Roll, and President Richard Nixon, resulting in this revealing, yet humorous moment immortalized in the most requested photograph in the National Archives.
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Mónica Del Carmen
On a December morning in 1970, the King of Rock 'n Roll showed up on the lawn of the White House to request a meeting with the most powerful man in the world, President Nixon. Starring Academy Award® nominee Michael Shannon as Elvis Presley and two-time Academy Award® winner Kevin Spacey as Richard Nixon, comes the untold true story behind this revealing, yet humorous moment in the Oval Office forever immortalized in the most requested photograph in the National Archives. Written by
A big long bore with a brilliant Spacey as Tricky Dick
Billed as "The untold true story behind the meeting between the King of Rock 'n Roll and President Nixon", directed by Liza Johnson, this is a wild comedic fantasy built around a brief encounter between Elvis Pressley and President Richard Nixon at the White House in 1974. The introductory credit sequence in dazzling colors and cartoon flavors serves notice that we are in for a wild ride with no holds barred. Unfortunately what the picture offers is a Frankenstein like edition of Elvis (Michael Shannon) in a long tedious buildup to the final confrontation in the Oval Office with an uncannily accurate Nixon, played with zest and four letter zeal by Kevin Spacey in a remarkable comedic turn. The final sequence in the president's office is hilarious enough to make the boring buildup worth sitting through but one wishes the first two thirds of the picture would have been highly compressed -- to maybe twenty minutes. As is, what we get is a view of a super patriotic Pressley which presents him as a very right wing anti-counter culture icon (altho in real life he was a symbol of the counter culture) who despises the Beatles and wants to save the youth of America from drugs, wanton sex and subversive politics by becoming an undercover agent for the government and infiltrating "anti-American organizations". To this end he needs a badge naming him as an official Undercover Government agent, which only the president can issue. His obsession with obtaining such a badge is the central conceit of the film and is a poor excuse for a premise around which to build an entire movie. However, as said before, the tedious introduction (which takes up most of the film) during which Elvis is desperately trying to set up a meeting with the president, and during which we see that Nixon is not interested in meeting a Rock musician and keeps turning such a proposal down, is just barely worth sitting through to get to the riotously funny conclusion in the Oval office when his assistants finally convince the president to agree to a five minute meeting with Elvis -- but just five minutes, no more -- because it will enhance his fading public image -- and on condition that Elvis takes a picture with Nixon autographed for his daughter who is a big Elvis fan. When Nixon finally meets Elvis he finds to his surprise that they have much in common and the five minutes is extended indefinitely, during which time Elvis massages the president's ego and takes off his shirt to perform a karate exhibition as many other bizarre revelations take place. Actor Michael Shannon captured much of the mannerisms and speech patterns of Pressley in a very subtle manner but his look is simply too old and too hard -- Frankenstein in long hair and black bell bottoms! Most of the dialogue of the film as written is just dull and pedestrian until we get into the Oval Office when it suddenly sparkles. Spacey's Nixon is a total riot and more convincing than the Tricky Dick rendition by Anthony Hopkins in the Oliver Stone presidential biopic. Overall I would have to say that this picture is one long bore with a final scene that is comedic genius, especially on the part of Kevin Spacey. Viewed at the Westwood Landmark in L.A. On April 23, 2016 at a special advance screening in the presence of Producer Jerry Schilling who was a lifelong friend of Elvis who avowed that much of the Elvis antics portrayed in the film were "in character" even if they didn't actually happen. Asked if Elvis would approve of this film he expressed honest reservations.
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