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LOVE ME TENDER - Elvis Presley's First Film Role (Part 4) - ELVIS RADIO 24h


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Mar 13, 2023

LOVE ME TENDER - Elvis Presley's First Film Role (Part 4)



Elvis Presley - Love Me Tender

Many of these people were Elvis meeting for the first time. The only exception was Debra Paget (pictured with Elvis), whom Elvis had already met a few months earlier, on June 5, on the set of the television program "The Milton Berle Show".

In it, the two acted out a short skit in which the then twenty-three-year-old actress had adoration (similar to what the singer had at concerts from his admirers) throw herself on Presley's neck - right after she was introduced to him by the host of the show.

In fact, Paget, who had nineteen film roles to her credit at the time and took her career very seriously, approached her first meeting with Elvis with a certain distance. In an interview given just a year later, she admitted that " I had heard and read a lot about this new singing sensation from Tennessee and most of the opinions were not flattering ."

Fortunately, however, the vast majority of this information disseminated by the press turned out to be completely untrue, and Presley himself gained on closer acquaintance. " I remember the way he greeted us ," described the actress in the 1957 TV And Movie Screen article "What I Found Out About Elvis!" ("What I Learned About Elvis"). "As Mr. Berle introduced us, Elvis gripped my hand tightly and said, 'Nice to meet you, Miss Paget.' Then, no less enthusiastically, he shook my mother's hand, apologized, and returned a few minutes later with a chair for her. We spent only a few hours together, but sometimes you can learn more about the other person in such a short time than in weeks of regular meetings. And that's just how I felt. From the very beginning, Elvis struck me as a kind, sincere and helpful young man ."

In addition to Debra Paget and the aforementioned Richard Egan and James Drury, several other names, equally famous at the time, were involved in the film.

The role of the third of the Reno brothers, Brett, was played by William Campbell - an American film actor (cast mainly in supporting roles) and television, who gained the greatest recognition for his role as a death row convict in the production of "Cell 2455 Death Row" by Columbia Pictures in 1955 year.

In turn, Mark Neville (actually Lawrence Neville Brand), nominated in 1954 for a BAFTA (British Academy) award for his role in the picture "Riot In The Cell Block 11", played Mike Gavin - a bandit who in the final minutes of the film injures deadly Clint Reno, a character played by Elvis.

In addition, on the screen, viewers could also see Robert Middleton (actually Samuel G. Messer, because that was his real name) and Barry Coe, who four years after the premiere of "Love Me Tender" received the Golden Globe in the category of the most promising debut for his role in the 1959 comedy A Private's Affair. It is also worth adding that in 1965, the actor starred with Presley again. This time in the production of "Paradise, Hawaiian Style".

The first slap on the set of "The Reno Brothers" fell on August 22, 1956. The film was shot over a month at 20th Century Fox's Stage 3 studio in California, in the scenic Malibu Creek State Park and at the Bell Movie Ranch in the Santa Sussana Mountains.

It wasn't an easy time for Elvis, who unlike the rest of the cast, had no idea about filmmaking or filmmaking.

On the set, surrounded by experienced actors, he initially felt very insecure. He didn't know how to behave in front of the camera or how to react to other actors in particular scenes. He tried to act on instinct, and yet, as Timothy Knight writes in the book "Elvis Presley - Retrospective", " he didn't know what to do with his hands, so he waved them out of frame when he was not holding a prop ". Richard Egan recalled that one day, during recess, Presley approached him and confided in him that he had never acted in a movie before and that he was " scared to death " about it. Hearing this, Egan advised him not to pretend anything next time in front of the camera - not acting, but acting completely natural.

This already stressful situation was not helped by the fact that Elvis' presence in Hollywood from the very beginning aroused great curiosity among both his admirers and the American media. Journalists from almost all over the country, throughout the work on the film, closely followed its actions on the set and then reported in detail on the pages of various popular magazines.

Despite these initial difficulties, Presley was not discouraged. Even if, as he himself said, he had to follow a pair of mules all day (it was in such a scene that Elvis first appeared on the big screen). On the contrary. He absorbed all the advice from his colleagues on the set and was very involved, and the way he stepped into his role at times, especially in emotional scenes, impressed even the most experienced cast members. " If someone had told me that [Elvis, author's note] had never taken acting lessons or that he had never been in front of a camera before, I would not have believed it, " asserted Debra Paget in a 1957 interview. "His playing was convincing, he always knew his lines. He also mastered purely technical aspects, such as getting in and out of camera range, as well as many other tricks that usually take months or even years to master. But he was very modest about it all. He was pretty much the only person who didn't think he was doing something right ."

The film's producer, David M. Weisbart, was of a similar opinion, and when asked by journalists about Elvis, he replied that he was " modest, kind and caring " and while working on the set "he always cooperated with us, was never late and took his work very seriously." acting ."

Information provided by EP Promised Land (Poland) - Marius Ogieglo

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