Loving You (1957 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Hal Kanter|
|Produced by||Hal B. Wallis|
|Story by||Mary Agnes Thompson|
|Music by||Walter Scharf|
|Cinematography||Charles Lang, Jr., A.S.C.|
|Edited by||Howard Smith, A.C.E.|
|Hal Wallis Productions|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Running time||101 minutes|
|Box office||$3.7 million (USA)|
Loving You is a 1957 American Technicolor musical drama structured as Elvis Presley's first film vehicle, following his black-and-white debut the previous year in a supporting role. The storyline, about a delivery man who is discovered by a music publicist and country-western musician who want to promote the talented newcomer to fame and fortune, was scripted by Herbert Baker as well as director Hal Kanter. Presley's co-stars are Lizabeth Scott, and Wendell Corey, with the film independently produced by Hal B. Wallis through Hal Wallis Productions and released by Paramount Pictures.
Elvis Presley plays Deke Rivers, a delivery man who is discovered by publicist Glenda Markle (Lizabeth Scott) and country-western musician Tex Warner (Wendell Corey). Deke is a handsome young man with a fast car and even faster fists, but what really sets him apart is his voice and charisma. One day he's seen singing, and word quickly spreads of his talent throughout the small town in which he works.
Markle and Warner, believing in his potential, want to promote the talented newcomer to fame and fortune, giving him every break they feel he deserves. At first, Warner, a washed-up country music entertainer, sees Deke's addition to the act as merely a side act, and that Warner will return to the limelight. He learns the painful truth after Glenda tearfully tells him that the promoters she works with don't want Warner anymore...and that Deke is their only shot left at the big-time.
- Elvis Presley as Deke Rivers (birth name Jimmy Tompkins)
- Lizabeth Scott as Glenda Markle
- Wendell Corey as Walter "Tex" Warner
- James Gleason as Carl Meade
- Ralph Dumke as Jim Tallman
- Paul Smith as Skeeter
- Ken Becker as Wayne
- Jana Lund as Daisy Bricker
- Dolores Hart as Susan "Susie" Jessup
In Presley's first picture, Love Me Tender, he acted in a supporting role as part of a larger story for the only time in his film career. His second film, Loving You, set the precedent for the remaining two films he would make before going into the army—Jailhouse Rock and King Creole. Each film would feature him playing a rising young singing star, and of the effects that fame has on him and the people around him.
Following the release of Love Me Tender Presley had complained that he felt uncomfortable playing a character so different to his own personality. Writer-director Hal Kanter, who was working on a movie version of Mary Agnes Thompson's short story A Call for Mitch Miller, spent time with Presley in December 1956 to get a better understanding of his individuality as a person and performer. Using this research he was able to adjust his script to suit Presley's persona for the lead role.
The film originally had three working titles—Lonesome Cowboy, Something for the Girls, and Running Wild. The third one was used by Ed Sullivan on January 6, 1957, when Presley made the last of his three appearances on Sullivan's TV variety hour. However, by the time Presley showed up for filming the title had been changed to match the Leiber & Stoller song "Loving You". The script was written to suit the inclusion of songs specifically written for the film, a practice that would continue throughout most of Presley's Hollywood career.
For his first role in Technicolor, Presley decided that he would look better on screen with dark hair. His screen idols, including Tony Curtis, had dark hair and Presley had always admired their acting abilities and the way they looked on screen. He decided to dye his hair black and with a few exceptions, including his time in the U.S. Army, he would keep it dyed for the rest of his life.
Presley's parents, Gladys and Vernon, were both present during the filming of the final scene of the film and appeared on screen (and, at one point, in the same frame as their son) during the musical number. Following Gladys' death a year later, Presley insisted that he would never watch the film again because it would remind him too much of his mother.
Loving You premiered in Memphis on July 10, 1957 at the Strand Theater. Presley did not go to that showing, instead opting to take girlfriend Anita Wood, as well as his parents to a private midnight screening. The film opened nationally on July 30, 1957 and peaked at #7 on the Variety National Box Office Survey, staying on the chart for four weeks.
Presley reported for work on January 21, 1957 and filming completed on March 8.
- "Got a Lot o' Livin' to Do" (Aaron Schroeder, Ben Weisman)
- "Let's Have a Party" (Jessie Mae Robinson)
- "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear" (Kal Mann, Bernie Lowe)
- "Hot Dog" (Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller)
- "Lonesome Cowboy" (Sid Tepper, Roy C. Bennett)
- "Mean Woman Blues" (Claude Demetrius)
- "Loving You" (Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller)
Evaluation in film guides
Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide gives Loving You 2½ stars (out of 4) concluding the write-up with "Elvis' second movie is highlighted by his performance of "Teddy Bear" and the title tune", while Steven H. Scheuer's Movies on TV lowers the rating to 2 stars (out of 4) and offers no opinion other than a one-sentence plot synopsis. Videohound's Golden Movie Retriever follows Scheuer's example, with 2 bones (out of 4) and simply a one-sentence outline plus a second sentence which lists the songs. Michael Weldon, in his Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film, includes a UPI photograph (with caption) of a fight scene between Elvis and Ken Becker as well as a positive write-up which begins, "Elvis at his best, top-billed for the first time", but Leslie Halliwell, in his Film Guide, felt the opposite, giving no stars (out of 4) and dismissing it as an "[E]mpty-headed, glossy star vehicle".
Mick Martin's & Marsha Porter's DVD & Video Guide puts its rating at 3 stars (out of 5) describing it as a "better-than-average Elvis Presley vehicle" and concluding that "the main attraction is Elvis singing his rock 'n' roll songs, including the title tune." Also assigning 3 stars (out of 5), The Motion Picture Guide begins its description with "Elvis Presley's second film was a fictionalized version of how he made it to the top" and ends with "LOVING YOU is one of Presley's better films. He gives a fine performance, both in the great concert scenes and in the dramatic ones; Hal Kanter directs with vigor."