Loving You (1957 film)

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Loving You
Loving you poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Hal Kanter
Produced by Hal B. Wallis
Screenplay by
Story by Mary Agnes Thompson
Starring
Music by Walter Scharf
Cinematography Charles Lang, Jr., A.S.C.
Edited by Howard Smith, A.C.E.
Production
  company
Hal Wallis Productions
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s)
  • July 9, 1957 (1957-07-09) (USA)
Running time 101 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $3.7 million (USA)[1]

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 in Love Me Tender. Directed by Hal Kanter, the cast is completed by Lizabeth Scott, Wendell Corey, and Dolores Hart on her movie debut.

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 and Hal Kanter based on the short story "A Call from Mitch Miller". Kanter expanded the script after being inspired by Presley's last appearance on the Louisiana Hayride and his manager Colonel Tom Parker's antics.

A box-office success, Loving You opened nationwide on July 9, 1957. The studios chose to ignore the first-run theater system, opting instead to release the film in sub-run neighborhood theaters, a system later dubbed the "Elvis Presley pattern".

Plot[edit]

Walter "Tex" Warner (Wendell Corey), a seasoned country & western bandleader that attempts to cling to the success of his hayday; and his manager and love interest, Glenda Markle (Lizabeth Scott) work for the campaign of Texas governor candidate Jim Tallman. During a show promoting the campaign in the town of Delville, Tallman asks Glenda to order more beer for the event. The delivery is taken by Deke Rivers (Elvis Presley) and a workmate, who talks to Glenda about the singing ability of Deke. In an attempt to revive the interest on the show with local talent, Glenda convinces Deke to sing a song with the backing of Tex's Rough Ridin' Ramblers.

After watching the positive reception of the female audience, she tries to convince Deke to join The Tex Warner Show. While Deke drives her on his hotrod, she tells him about his potential to perform. Not willing to leave his first steady job in a year, he rejects the offer, while Glenda asks him to think about it. Upon returning to town, Glenda calls the Highway Beverage Company. She and Tex quit the Tallman campaign to return to their own roadshow, while Glenda prepares a contract for Deke to join the bill.

The following morning, when the group is living town, Deke accepts the offer, after being fired because of a complaint by a costumer regarding a late delivery. With Tex headlining, he starts touring with them throughout Texas, accompanying the bill also composed by Susan "Susie" Jessup (Dolores Hart) and a singing trio. As his popularity grows from performance to performance, Glenda devices publicity stunts to leverage it. At a show, she pays two aged woman to criticize him. While they start to argue with young fans, she takes a press photographer to report the incident. As they tour, Deke becomes involved with Susan. After playing in small towns and fairs, the group is hired to play an Amarillo theater on a four day run. Convinced that it is his ticket to regain fame, Tex accepts to share the bill in half with Deke after Glenda requests it. Glenda buys a new suit and boots for Deke, while she also calls reporters of The Dallas Chronicle to write a story on him.

Before the start of his concerts, Deke is provoked at a restaurant by the boyfriend of one of his fans, who wants to hear him singing a song. After singing to a tune from the jukebox, he starts a fight with him. He is later exonerated by the police. His first concert is successful, and after his performance, he finds the girlfriend of the aggressor in his dressing room. After she repeatedly refuses to leave, he accepts to kiss her. At the moment, the reporters walk in, taking a picture of the two. After everybody leaves the room, Deke signs the contract Glenda wrote, granting her half of the income.

Deke sings "Loving You" for the Jessup family

When the run is over, his management is approached with an offer for a one-man show in Freegate, Texas, six miles outside of Dallas. Tex is obliged to fire Susan and the singing trio, leaving only Deke on the show. Free for three days, Deke drives Susan to the farm of her family. Meanwhile, on another publicity move, Glenda convinces Tex to buy a Cadillac against his life insurance for Deke. She invents a story to tell Deke, about the appreciation of the widow of an Oklahoma oil magnate who bought the car for him. Back on the farm, Deke and Susan talk. She tells him about her being fired from the show. As they are about to kiss, they are interrupted by her parents, who ask him to sing the song he promised. After Deke sings "Loving You", an surprised Susan remarks that she never heard him sing in that way, Deke admits that he never felt that way before.

Glenda arrives to the farm with the Cadillac, presenting it as a gift to Deke. She urges him to leave with her for Freegate to the show. On their way back, talking about his past, Deke confesses Glenda that his real surname is Tompkins. As he decides to disclose his past, he asks her to drive to Allen City, to the Woodbine cemetery, where he shows her the Tomb of Deke Rivers. He tells her how eleven years before, the orphanage where he lived burned down and he scaped and woke up in the cemetery, buried Jimmy Tompkins and took the name of Rivers. The epitaph read "He was alone but for his friends who miss him", Deke explained that alone as Rivers, he spent the following years rambling and trying to find friends to live up to the name of Rivers.

Meanwhile in Freegate, the concert is cancelled by the Mayor's office, after they received several complaints from parents of Deke's music. In response to the cancelling, Glenda arranges a concert telecast of a Freegate concert to gain publicity. Leveraged by the broadcast, she convinces the board of the town hall to allow him to perform. Unhappy, Deke talks to Tex about quitting the business and leaving behind the popularity and publicity he was receiving. After learning it from Tex, Glenda talks to Deke and convinces him to perform, they later kiss.

Deke confronts Glenda after she finds him

On the day of the telecast, Deke is shocked after learning that Tex was married and later divorced with Glenda. While an insecure Deke runs away from the show on his hotrod, Tex confronts Glenda, telling her about his leaving after the end of the show. Glenda goes after Deke, who he finds after he is run off the road by crossing cattle. Glenda confesses him that she made the call that got him fired, and that the story of the car was a lie. After she tears the contract, she urges him to quickly return for the broadcast.

While they wait for them, testimonies by fans defending Deke's music are shot. During the last one, an upset Susan reveals that Deke ran away for the pressure, and will not appear on the show. Deke soon appears, declaring that he had "something very important to say to somebody", adding that she would know, and starts singing "Loving You". After the performance, Susan goes onstage with him, and they meet backstage Tex and Glenda. Deke offers them both to manage him, while he is offered a contract. Tex and Glenda reconcile, meanwhile Deke and Susan kiss.

Cast[edit]

  • Elvis Presley as Deke Rivers/Jimmy Tompkins. A deliveryman, who is discovered by the manager of a band during a performance in his hometown. Rivers starts touring with the band soon becoming a sensation. The film is Presley's second motion picture following his debut in 1956's Love Me Tender, and his first starring role. It also marked the begging of a seven-film streak for Paramount produced by Hal Wallis.[2] For the role, Presley dyed his hair black following his favorite actors Tony Curtis and Rudolph Valentino.[3] As the second of his 1956 signed three-movie deal with Paramount Pictures, Presley was payed US$150,000.[4]
  • Lizabeth Scott as Glenda Markle, manager and love interest of bandleader "Tex" Warner. Glenda discovers Deke, and becomes his manager, expanding his popularity by creating publicity moves. Known by her roles in the 1940s and early 1950s, Scott returned from retirament to star on the movie.[5]
  • Dolores Hart as Susan Jessup, a young singer that tours with Tex Warner's band and Deke's love interest. Casted for her first movie role, Hart was discovered by Wallis after seeing a production of Joan of Lorraine at Loyola University. He screen-tested Hart on January 16, 1957, and later signed her for US$250-a-week. Then named Dolores Hicks, Wallis requested her to change her name to favor her acting career. She adopted Hart, after the maid surname of a friend; and suggested by Wallis, Susan for her character. When an advertisement was published calling her Susan Hart "the girl other girls will hate", her mother requested her to keep her old given name. The actress changed it legally to "Dolores Hart".[7]

Production[edit]

The film was based on the short story "A Call from Mitch Miller",[2] written by Mary Agnes Thompson, and published on Good Housekeeping in June 1956.[8] On that year, producer Hal Wallis bought the rights for the story to turn it into a vehicle for Presley's first starring movie for Paramount Pictures. Six months before the start of the production, Wallis loaned Presley to 20th Century Fox, were he appeared on his movie debut in 1956's Love Me Tender.[9]

The producer then selected Hal Kanter to direct the film, and to co-write the script with Herbert Baker.[10] To write a script adjusted to Presley, Kanter traveled to Memphis, Tennesse to meet him in person. Along with Presley's entourage, he went to Shreveport to see the last performance of the singer on the Louisiana Hayride. Kanter witnessed the fan's reaction, as well as Presley's manager Colonel Tom Parker's handling of the spectacle, both of which he saw as an inspiration for the script.[11] The working titles of the movie were "Lonesome Cowboy", "Running Wild", "Stranger in Town" and "Something for the Girls". Based on the appeal of Presley's previous film for the title-track ballad, Wallis then settled to name the film after the Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber ballad penned for the movie, "Loving You".[6]

Shot in Technicolor and VistaVision, the production started on January 21, 1957, ending on March 8.[3] The film was shot at the Paramount studios, except the Jessup farm scenes, shot on the Hollywood Hills.[12] The film features the appearances of Presley's guitarist Scotty Moore, bassist Bill Black, drummer D.J. Fontana and The Jordanaires.[13] Presley's parents, Gladys and Vernon, who visited the set of the film, were included by the director on the final scene of the film within the audience of the telecast.[14]

Soundtrack[edit]

Main article: Loving You (album)

The soundtrack of the film was recorded on January 15, 16, 17, and 18, 1957, at the Paramount Pictures Scoring Stage, and on January 12, 13, 19, and February 23 and 24, 1957, at Radio Recorders in Hollywood. It contains seven songs, composed expressly for the movie by writers contracted to Elvis Presley Music and Gladys Music, the publishing companies owned by Presley and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. The titletune, "Loving You" was composed by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.[15]

Peformed by Presley:

Release and reception[edit]

Presley performs (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear

Premiered on July 9, 1957 at the Strand Theater in Memphis, it opened nationally July 30.[16] Due to Presley's phenomenon, for the first time, the studio decided to bypass the established first-run theater system. Paramount opted instead for a massive release, sending it to neighborhood theaters in New York, Chicago and Detroit.[17] The system was dubbed the "Presley Pattern", that consisted on delivering the product to its direct market by cutting the expenses of premieres in downtown theaters, choosing instead local venues for a wider and profitable release.[18]

Upon its release, it appeared on Variety's National Box Office Survey for four weeks, peaking at number seven. The single "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear" backed with "Loving you" sold a million copies.[16] The film grossed a total of US$3,7 million in 1957.[19] While Presley was in the army , the movie was rereleased in the summer of 1959. The box office results were negative, with the film grossing US$74,000.[20]

Reviews[edit]

Variety wrote a favorable review noting that Presley "shows improvement as an actor [...] being surrounded by a capable crew of performers".[21] The New York Times criticized his acting, the review opened "For Paramount's 'Loving You', starring America's favorite hound-dog hollerer [...] does just about everything, and little else, to prove that it ain't—isn't".[22] Los Angeles Times declared it "A furtive step on Presley's part in a screen career".[23] The Michigan Christian Advocate delivered a negative review and called the film "an apologia for Elvis Presley" and considered it "part of the passing American scene" that would "undoubtedly bore many and interest an equal number".[24]

While it rated the film with two stars out of five, Allmovie defined it as "one of Elvis Presley's liveliest and most interesting early films [...] one of the best in (his) output".[25] MSN Movies called it "a streamlined and sanitized retake on the story of Elvis."[26] Critic Leonard Maltin rated the movie with two-and-a-half stars out of four, considering the performances of "Loving You" and "Teddy Bear" the highlights of the picture.[27] On The Motion Picture Guide, critic Jay Robert Nash rated it with three stars out of four. The review claimed that Loving You was "one of Presley's better films". It declared that Hal Kanter directed the film with "vigor", while it qualified Presley's acting as a "fine performance" in the "great concert scenes and in the dramatic ones".[28]

References[edit]

Notes
Bibliography

External links[edit]