"Some people tap their feet, some people snap their fingers, and some people sway back and forth. I just sorta do 'em all together."
- Elvis Presley talking about the way he moves on stage (1956).
My main reasons for coming to Taipa were to visit dad in hospital and to reassure myself that my parents had settled in ok to rural living. My maternal grandfather is from Kaitaia so in some respects this was a kind of homecoming for me. I may not come back often but I do consider the far north home. My parents had decided to relocate here permanently about a year ago. It wasn't a total surprise as mum had been dividing her working life with half weeks both in Auckland and in Kaitaia for the last three years. During our stay we learned how dad had ended up hospitalised and it made for a pretty harrowing tale (in short: falling in the Mangonui harbour, passing out, floating under a boat and being dragged aboard by fishermen). No time is a good time to be faced with any family member's mortality and yet, in some ways, it's been a really good trip. Over the last few days dad and I have had some good talks, some even greater silences and, better yet, have re-discovered a mutual love of Elvis movies. Where our tastes differ is that dad enjoys all of Elvis, including the hype and the tacky jumpsuits and the Las Vegas days, and I'm just a fan of his early films and music. This list is nothing more than dad's top 5 favourite Elvis DVDs. Or at least, top 5 that match what he owns and what our libraries hold :)
My dad is only 58 so he's still quite young. He was only 22 when I was born and all through my school years he and mum were the youngest parents of any of my school friends. It wasn't a big deal to me but a lot of my friends would point that out. It meant that I had a dad who played with me more than he disciplined me. In fact, as a child he was a slack disciplinarian and I ran circles around him right from the get-go. He taught me to fish, bowl at cricket, hit a softball, play rugby, pitch at hit-and-roll, drive a car (I still cringe everytime I see the neighbour's fence I almost crashed into and no matter how old I get dad hovers with his hand over the handbrake when I drive), read a newspaper, appreciate Anne McCaffrey and enjoy a whole host of unusual musicians that he has also introduced his grandchildren to. Dad's not dying, but he isn't in great shape and his heart is too old and too tired to keep up with bouts of pneumonia as a result of taking a dunk in the sea. To say the least. Although it was kinda cool to kick back with him today and acknowledge that we can still bond over Elvis.
The following films are ones dad wanted to list that we don't hold:
Double trouble / Directed by Norman Taurog ; produced by Judd Bernard and Irwin Winkler
A rock singer touring England gets involved with a wealthy teenage heiress in London. Turns out the girl's uncle is trying to steal her money, putting her life in danger, and is also involved in a jewel smuggling operation.
Tosca's comment: Elvis, in his early days, was so handsome it hurt to look at him. This is one film of his I fast forward through to watch the singing bits only.
Viva Las Vegas / Written by Sally Benson ; directed by George Sidney
He's a race car driver out to win the Las Vegas Grand Prix. She's a sexy swim instructor who really gets his engine going. But can he keep his mind on the contest when it's really his heart that's racing?
Tosca's comment: This is my favouritest Elvis movie ever and one that dad thinks is only so-so. Ann-Margret in this is total win.
Jailhouse rock / screenplay by Guy Trosper ; songs mostly by Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber ; produced by Pandro S. Berman ; directed by Richard Thorpe
Vince Everett is serving a one-year jail sentence for manslaughter. While in the big house, his cellmate, a former country singer, introduces him to the record business. Vince takes to it so well that he decides to become a singer when he gets out. However, he is quickly disillusioned by the record business. But with the help of a new friend, he decides to form his own label, and soon he becomes an overnight sensation. As he becomes a superstar, his desire for fame and money may cause him to forget the people who got him there.
Tosca's comment: My least favourite Elvis film - this one to me seems to be more chauvinistic than any of the others. Dad loves it for the music. The sexism isn't something he pays attention to.
Girls! Girls! Girls! / produced by Hal Wallis ; written by Adam Weiss ; directed by Norman Taurog
Elvis plays a charter-boat skipper who helps tourists land the big ones.
Tosca's comment: Dad has this at #2 purely for the music as it contains a couple of his fav hits.
King Creole / Produced by Hal Wallis ; screenlay by Herbert Baker and Michael Vincente Gazzo ; directed by Michael Curtiz
Danny Fisher, young delinquent, flunks out of high school. He gets a job as a dishwasher on a nightclub, and one night he gets the chance to perform. Success is imminent and the local crime boss Maxie Fields wants to hire him to perform at his night club King Creole. Danny refuses, but Fields won't take no for an answer...
Tosca's comment: In spite of the fact that 'Love me tender' is one of Presley's better films (at least according to the critics) dad can't stand it. As he sees it, Presley's character in King Creole has more depth. In 2009 I visited New Orleans and stood underneath the balcony Elvis sings from in the opening scene of this movie and remembered how my dad and I would watch this when I was a kid..
As an extra note to this post, I spent a week in Memphis, Tennessee back in 2009 Because I wanted to see both Graceland and the National Civil Rights Museum. One made me wonder about a life lived in excess and the other made me cry to think about a life spent trying to unite people. I'll leave it to you to decide which was which...