What is the next step when you have become a renowned musician? Should you settle for what you have achieved, or should you try to make even more, in other artistic fields?
These questions were essential for Elvis Presley. So after he conquered rock and roll he set his eyes on something different, on changing the game in another domain. So his next dream, when he started acting, was to become the next James Dean. He was aiming at being as good as Marlon Brando. Did he succeed?
At the time he made Love Me Tender, there weren’t too many movies aimed at the particular niche of the teenagers (they were called “juve” movies), because the studios didn’t believe that they would be productive enough (the adults wouldn’t come to such movies, while the younger audiences would rather spend time in front of the TV).
But 20th Century Fox took this chance and cast Elvis Presley. The purpose of this move and the low-budget feel of Love Me Tender were meant to attract both the younger audience, as well as the older one. Of course, having a name like Presley’s on the cast list didn’t hurt either – after the release of the film, the studio reported that the box-office number were two times bigger than usually.
So it can be said that Love Me Tender was a game changer for the movie industry of the 50’s, since it rejuvenated the “juve” films, if I may say so. The adult audience didn’t flock to the cinemas, but the younger one was more than present.
However, what does this mean for Elvis Presley? He proved that he wasn’t just the King of Rock and Roll, because he also opened new doors for new musicians to enter the movie-making industry. This also meant that Elvis will later on appear in no less than 31 movies in 16 years.
While his movies were a bit formulaic (with lots of rock and roll accents), he is still Elvis Presley. The bet made by 20th Century Fox was a good one, because Elvis is and will always remain a big name that increases the sales, even after almost 58 years have passed since the release of Love Me Tender.
The King didn’t become a James Dean or a Marlon Brando. But even from his first movie it can be seen that he put all his heart into his role. Other people made money by using his name. He made art wherever he went. And that is no small thing.