Live a Little, Love a Little
|Live A Little, Love A Little|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Norman Taurog|
|Produced by||Douglas Laurence|
|Screenplay by||Michael A. Hoey|
Kiss My Firm, But Pliant, Lips|
by Dan Greenburg
|Music by||Billy Strange|
|Cinematography||Fred J. Koenekamp|
|Edited by||John McSweeney, Jr.|
Live A Little, Love A Little is a 1968 American musical comedy film starring Elvis Presley. It was directed by Norman Taurog, who had directed several previous Presley films. This was to be Taurog's final film. (Shortly thereafter, he went blind.) The film introduced the song "A Little Less Conversation"; an alternate take of which would form the basis of a remix that returned Presley to international music sales charts in 2002. This film had Presley sharing the screen with another legendary singing idol, Rudy Vallee, whose career dated to the 1920s. But Vallee, then in his late 60s, did not sing in this movie.
Greg Nolan (Elvis) is a newspaper photographer who lives a carefree life — that is, until he encounters an eccentric, lovelorn woman named Bernice (Michele Carey) on the beach. Bernice assumes different names and personalities whenever the mood hits her. (She introduces herself to Greg as "Alice" but she's known to the grocery delivery boy as "Susie" and to the milkman as "Betty.")
After having her Great Dane dog, Albert (which was reportedly Presley's real-life dog Brutus, although Priscilla Presley has stated that it was a trained dog used for the film), chase Greg into the water when he insults her after a kiss, Bernice invites him to stay at her beachfront home. She later manages to make him lose his job and apartment after drugging him, which leaves him in a deep sleep for days.
However, Bernice also manages to find Greg another home. He wants to repay her so he gets two full-time photographer jobs: one for a Playboy-like magazine owned by Mike Lansdown (Don Porter), the other for a very conservative advertising firm co-owned by Mr. Penlow (Rudy Vallee). The two jobs are in the same building, forcing Greg to run from one to the other (up and down the stairwell) without being detected. He also must deal with Bernice and her eccentric ways.
- Elvis Presley as Greg Nolan
- Michele Carey as Bernice
- Don Porter as Mike Lansdown
- Rudy Vallee as Mr. Penlow
- Dick Sargent as Harry
- Sterling Holloway as The Milkman
- Celeste Yarnall as Ellen
- Eddie Hodges as The Delivery Boy
- Joan Shawlee as Robbie's Mother
- Mary Grover as Miss Selfridge
- Emily Banks as RKC&P Receptionist
Based on the 1965 novel Kiss My Firm, But Pliant, Lips by Dan Greenburg, and with a screenplay co-written by Greenburg, Live a Little, Love a Little was a departure from the standard Presley film of the period. It had a more mature tone than other Presley musicals with strong language, drug references, and an implied sexual encounter.
Elvis was paid $850,000 plus 50% of the profits.
Unlike many previous films which involved "location scenes" shot against a backdrop, Presley was able to do more scenes on location than usual. Scenes were filmed in and around Hollywood, along the Malibu coast, at Marineland, and at the Los Angeles Music Center.
The film co-starred Michele Carey, Don Porter, Rudy Vallee, and Dick Sargent, and featured Presley's father, Vernon, in an uncredited cameo. Several of Presley's Memphis Mafia friends, such as Red West and Joe Esposito, also appeared.
The second of Presley's five final movies during the 1960s made with just a handful of musical numbers, the recording session of the four songs written for the film took place at Western Recorders in Hollywood, California on March 7, 1968. The producer in nominal charge of the session, Billy Strange, had worked with both Frank and Nancy Sinatra, and attuned to current trends in popular music brought in a group of musicians outside of Presley's usual stable and written arrangements that went afield from Presley's usual sound. "Almost in Love" was given a late-night cocktail-jazz quality, "Edge of Reality" was a piece of pseudo-acid rock, and "A Little Less Conversation" written by Strange and his new discovery who would write several more songs for Presley, Mac Davis, bordered on funk.
"A Little Less Conversation" was released as a single with "Almost in Love" on the reverse side on September 3, 1968, RCA catalog nr. 47-9610. It peaked at #69, while its b-side scraped into the Billboard Hot 100 at #95 independently. Over three decades later, a remix of "A Little Less Conversation" became a global #1 hit record, although the version sourced for the remix was actually a later re-recording Elvis did for the soundtrack of his 1968 NBC "Comeback Special", and not the movie version. "Edge of Reality" appeared on November 5, 1968, as the b-side to RCA single 47-9670 "If I Can Dream," the song Presley used to close out his 1968 Christmas Special. "Wonderful World," which played over the opening credits to the film, appeared on the compilation Elvis Sings Flaming Star. All three tracks released on singles also appear on Command Performances: The Essential 60's Masters II.
- "Wonderful World" (Doug Flett, Guy Fletcher)
- "Edge of Reality" (Bernie Baum, Bill Giant, Florence Kaye)
- "A Little Less Conversation" (Billy Strange, Mac Davis)
- "Almost in Love" (Luiz Bonfá, Randy Starr)
- Elvis Presley – vocals
- B. J. Baker, Sally Stevens, Bob Tebow, John Bahler – backing vocals
- Joseph Gibbons – electric guitar
- Neil Levang – electric guitar
- Alvin Casey – electric guitar
- Charles Britz – electric guitar
- Don Randi – piano
- Charles Berghofer – bass
- Larry Knechtel – bass
- Hal Blaine – drums
- Gary Coleman – drums
Celeste Yarnall, who played Ellen, recalled the making of the film and her impressions of Elvis Presley:
I adored Elvis. When I met him for the first time he immediately put me at ease. We had to film our kissing first and neither of us heard the director say, 'Cut!' For me, it was love at first kiss! We became very good friends. He was warm and kind and full of love. He had this tremendous desire to please people. We watched the funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr. together over lunch in his trailer. He cried. He really cared deeply. He was far more handsome in person with deep blue eyes and a Roman profile. He held jam sessions on the set and would play cars with George Barris or play football with the 'boys' who traveled with him everywhere. He was truly 'The King.'
Variety called the film one of Presley's "dimmest vehicles," writing that Norman Taurog's direction "tried to give some lilt to the proceedings. Nothing, however, can buck that writing. Songs are dull, physical values are standard, and mediocrity prevails."
The Monthly Film Bulletin, reviewing the film in 1978, wrote that it "commendably attempts to create a more eccentric, 'sophisticated' setting for Presley than hitherto," but that it "fails to achieve the kind of comic invention vital to a screwball romantic comedy," and that its songs were "unmemorable."
Live a Little, Love a Little was released to DVD by Warner Home Video on August 7, 2007 as a Region 1 widescreen DVD.
- Victor, Adam (2008). The Elvis Encyclopedia. Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd. pp. 305–6. ISBN 978-0-7156-3816-3.
- Michael A. Hoey, Elvis' Favorite Director: The Amazing 52-Film Career of Norman Taurog, Bear Manor Media 2013
- Jorgensen, Ernst. Elvis Presley A Life in Music: The Complete Recording Sessions. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998; p. 239.
- Jorgensen, Ernst. Elvis Presley A Life in Music: The Complete Recording Sessions. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998; pp. 241-242.
- Jorgensen, Ernst. Elvis Presley A Life in Music: The Complete Recording Sessions. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998; p. 418.
- Jorgensen, Ernst. Elvis Presley A Life in Music: The Complete Recording Sessions. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998; p. 243.
- "Live A Little, Love A Little". Variety: 27. October 9, 1968.
- Thomas, Kevin (October 24, 1968). "'Live a Little' is No. 28 for Presley." Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 28.
- "Live a Little, Love a Little". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 45 (535): 161. August 1978.