On August 16, 1977, the world lost iconic performer Elvis Presley, who died at the young age of 42. Presley excelled in many media, from music to television to films and the concert stage, and he became a beloved cultural king worldwide. In music, he was nicknamed the “King of Rock and Roll,” but that genre was not his sole claim to musical significance. Presley performed and was influenced by a number of genres, including country, rockabilly, pop, blues, gospel, and rhythm and blues. In his career, Presley won three Grammy Awards (all for gospel music and none for rock) plus received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1971.
Although he got his start performing rockabilly, the Tupelo-born, Memphis-raised Presley gradually expanded his sphere of influence to include film, television and the concert stage. His appearances on television in the 1950s, in particular on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” caused a storm of controversy about the sexual nature of his pelvic gyrations, so that selective camerawork had to be utilized to protect the delicate sensibilities of the CBS and Sullivan audience. But that only fueled the mania to see Elvis among his fans, and that jump started his new career on the big screen.
Presley’s film output can be divided into two genres. One is the “Elvis movie” where his characters show up in some exotic place looking for work but instead finds every girl hanging on to his every note. The second is the more serious films where, Presley, anxious to show his bona fides as a real actor, takes on characters and situations that are far from the music and dancing of his other films. And when he was given a chance to shine, Presley, on more than one occasion, proved that he had some serious acting chops indeed.
Presley would’ve celebrated his 85th birthday on January 8, 2020. In honor of his memory, enjoy touring our new photo gallery of his top 10 movies ranked worst to best, including “Blue Hawaii,” “Love Me Tender,” and “Viva Las Vegas.”
– Original text and gallery published in September 2018.