Speedway (1968 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Norman Taurog|
|Produced by||Douglas Laurence|
|Written by||Phillip Shuke|
|Music by||Jeff Alexander|
|Edited by||Richard W. Farrell|
|Box office||$2,000,000 (US/ Canada)|
Steve Grayson (Elvis) is a generous NASCAR race car driver with a heart of gold who feels compelled to bail friends and acquaintances out of financial hardship. However, Steve's manager Kenny Donford (Bill Bixby), a compulsive gambler, had been mismanaging Steve's winnings to support his gambling habits, landing Steve in deep trouble with the IRS for nonpayment of back taxes and causing many of Steve's valuable possessions to be repossessed. This proves to be a problem for Steve in his efforts to continue racing competitively and support those who depend on his intense generosity.
Susan Jacks (Sinatra) is the IRS agent assigned to keep tabs on Steve and apply his future prize money toward his $150,000 debt, but she ends up taking a romantic interest in him as well. This movie is loosely based on Colonel Tom Parker and his gambling habit and the money he continually siphoned from Elvis.
- Elvis Presley as Steve Grayson
- Nancy Sinatra as Susan Jacks
- Bill Bixby as Kenny Donford
- Gale Gordon as R. W. Hepworth
- William Schallert as Abel Esterlake
- Victoria Paige Meyerink as Ellie Esterlake
- Carl Ballantine as Birdie Kebner
- Ross Hagen as Paul Dado
- Charlotte Considine as Lori
- Sandy Reed as Speedway Announcer
Elvis was paid $850,000 plus 50% of the profits.
Filming began on 26 June 1967.
Scenes were shot at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. The film features guest appearances by several of the top stock-car—better known now as NASCAR—drivers of the day including Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, Cale Yarborough, Tiny Lund and more. They were shown individually with their names in the film's opening credits.
This would be the final "formula" musical film of Presley's career. His remaining films would be less musical and more adult in tone.
Steve Grayson's generosity portrayed in the film was based loosely on Elvis' real-life generosity, in which Elvis would give cars, homes, and other expensive items to Memphis Mafia members, family and friends, and even total strangers. This film is also loosely based on Colonel Tom Parker and his real life gambling habits and the money he continually siphoned from Elvis.
Although the film was completed in the early summer of 1967, it was not released in theaters until the spring of 1968. It was a box-office flop, placing at #40 on the Variety weekly national box office list.
Speedway was released to DVD by Warner Home Video on August 7, 2007 as a Region 1 widescreen DVD.
- Michael A. Hoey, Elvis' Favorite Director: The Amazing 52-Film Career of Norman Taurog, Bear Manor Media 2013
- "Big Rental Films of 1968". Variety: 15. 8 January 1969.
Please note this figure is a rental accruing to distributors.