Unit 5 - Unit 5 A Life in the Movies A Presley picture is...

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Unit 5 A Life in the Movies “A Presley picture is the only sure thing in Hollywood.” —Hal Wallis, producer of nine Elvis Presley pictures Upon his return from the Army, Elvis began what was to be a near total commitment to Hollywood and the making of motion pictures. He would star in 27 feature films between 1960 and 1969, often spending nine out of every twelve months either filming or making recordings for those films. Those films would be the focus of all of his creative energies; he would perform only once on television before the Comeback Special in 1968 and his only public performances during that period were three benefit concert appearances made in 1961. In essence, everything that Elvis did for almost eight years was directly tied to the making of movies. However, Hollywood was a mixed blessing for Elvis of monumental proportions. Movies made him incredibly rich and, in commercial terms, the most successful actor in the history of the industry. No series of musical films ever made even approaches the commercial success of the 31 films Elvis Presley made as an actor: no Presley picture ever lost money during its initial release and those 31 films have continued to reap profits ever since…even though the last, Change of Habit , was made almost forty years ago. It is estimated that the profits realized from Elvis Presley pictures after his death are in excess of one billion dollars. Unfortunately, there is little that can be positively said about those films beyond the fact that they made money. Rather than the serious dramatic actor he hoped he would become, Elvis, instead, became a public parody of himself on the silver screen. And like his contemporary, Muhammad Ali, the enormous potential of his most productive years would never be realized. For both, the loss would be offset, at least in part, by startling comebacks that would insure their legacy and place in history, but the full dimension of “what might have been” remains a sad footnote in both of their lives. However in 1960, Elvis’ return from military service was full of promise and possibility. And it began with a remarkable series of accomplishments. Getting Back to Work On March 20, 1960, barely two weeks after his discharge, Elvis Presley re–entered RCA’s Studio B in Nashville to begin work on what would be his first post–army single and first album of new material since August 1958. Needless to say, there was tension and anticipation at the start of the session. Almost two years had passed since Elvis had made a record and there was an unvoiced, but certainly present concern as to whether he could still do what he had done in the
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past…and whether there was still an audience out there who would respond as they had before he left for Germany.
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