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COLUMN: Elvis finally gets royal treatment he deserves

Elvis: The Movie is setting records and has led to a resurgence in popularity of all things Elvis ... and that's a great thing, says columnist and Elvis fan
elvis movie screen
Actor Austin Butler nailed his portrayal of the 'king of rock and roll in Elvis: The Movie.

Actor Austin Butler said these words regarding his portrayal of Elvis Presley in Elvis: The Movie: “I have never loved someone so much that I’ve never met.”

It was with those words, I knew not only did he understand the magic of the real Elvis but he had gotten the fans as well. We, the true fans, had finally been seen.

I have literally spent decades trying to explain my deep passion for this musical giant.

Now, with one 2 hour and 39 minute movie, it has all been made crystal clear.

It took 45 years after his passing for someone to recognize Elvis for all his strengths and complexities and show it on the big screen.

I am not a lover of musicals, so had no clue who Baz Luhrmann was (Moulin Rouge/Great Gatsby) and I did not know Austin Butler (of Nickelodeon fame)

Well, I know them now and will never forget them.

By now, I know the die-hard fans have seen the new movie so nothing I write will ruin anything.

Honestly, I never saw a movie quite like this. It is so fast-paced I needed to see it multiple times. 

Somehow, Austin Butler became Elvis for me. I literally saw him. Not ALL the time, but with certain facial expressions or hand movements. The dance moves were impeccable.  In concert, I could not stop staring at the screen. It was more that he found Elvis’ essence.

I even forgot I was watching Tom Hanks and I’m not quite sure how that happens.

The reproductions of Graceland both inside and out, Beale Street, Tupelo and Las Vegas are spot on.

For background, Elvis is really the story of his promoter, Colonel Tom Parker who, in fact, was not a Colonel, a Tom or a Parker. It was all a creation of an undocumented immigrant from Holland.

So, while Elvis is the star of the film, it is told by the Colonel (Tom Hanks) through a morphine haze on his death bed.

I took that to mean it may or may not be completely accurate. (And it isn’t)

For my part — I never cared for the Colonel though I never met him. I didn’t like his brash persona. I thought he didn’t always have Elvis’ best interests at heart. Elvis’ mom, Gladys, never trusted the Colonel and turns out she was right.  A mother’s intuition.

Was Parker a promotional genius? Without a doubt. 

Elvis made the most money of any musical artist of his era. He was the highest paid Hollywood actor of the sixties. He made the most money in Las Vegas creating the first Vegas residency as we see continued with Brittney Spears, Celine Dion and Barry Manilow.

The Colonel was the businessman and Elvis was the talent and for the most part each stayed in his own lane.

I went to a couple of experts when it comes to the actual Colonel Parker.

Alanna Nash has written four books on Elvis.

As she writes in the June 30 edition of Vanity Fair, “I spent time with him in the 1990s and he could be just as scary as what you see on screen.  There were times I felt a chill of evil that scared the hell out of me.”

Nash says he was also a man who was very funny and would cry if someone forgot his birthday.

Charles Stone, who was the tour manager for the Elvis tours in the 1970s, had an inside view of some of the business dealings.

He has always spoken affectionately and positively of the Colonel.

I asked him for his opinion of the new movie and the portrayals.

“Austin nailed Elvis and Tom Hanks as the Colonel was good. I enjoyed it very much.”

Award winning Elvis Tribute Artist James Gibb expressed it this way:

“There are some things that are technically false, but it doesn’t matter in the slightest. It shows Elvis to the world in the way the fans have always known him — the true him — kind, funny, generous, talented beyond belief, moody, loving, imperfect and real: the best depiction of him in a production yet!”

Personally, I haven’t stopped smiling. People are talking about Elvis again. He has caught the interest of young people which I believe was the goal. 

The movie makes you want to know more about this unique person. Books about him are in demand, his music is again climbing the charts and people are booking trips to Memphis.

For Elvis, it was never about the money.  It was about the music and the joy he could bring to people. Mission accomplished!

I will give the last words on the Colonel to Charles Stone.

“Colonel remains a mystery and that is what he wanted.”

Still, it is Elvis himself who brings the film home. The real Elvis. The beautiful smile and incredible voice that was with him to the end.

Make sure you stay for all the credits because it is Elvis who has the final word!

Stone’s book is titled My Years with Elvis and the Colonel and Alanna Nash’s book is titled The Colonel: The Extraordinary story of Col. Tom Parker and Elvis Presley.

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About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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