Elvis Countdown: The 10 Best Movies

Elvis Presley is Deke Rivers in LOVING YOU (1957)

Elvis Presley is Deke Rivers in LOVING YOU (1957)

From my perspective, below is a countdown of Elvis Presley’s 10 best fictional movies.

#10 Tickle Me (1965)
In this instance, a low budget worked to the advantage of Tickle Me. To save money, no songs were written or recorded. Instead, the movie drew from material Elvis previously recorded for non-movie purposes – meaning they were of higher quality than most songs from his other 1960s films. Tickle Me also has a comedic charm that sets it apart from some of his 1960s clunkers.

#9 Live A Little, Love A Little (1968)
People seem to either love or hate the sometimes zany comedy of Live A Little, Love A Little. As for me, I love it, a little. Michele Carey as Bernice is a definite highlight, as are each of the four songs: “Wonderful World,” “Edge of Reality,” “A Little Less Conversation,” and “Almost In Love.”

#8 Charro! (1969)
Elvis performs only the title tune in Charro!, which sets it apart from all of his other films. Though inspired by the Spaghetti Western trend, this movie failed fully to live up to its potential because it only partially challenged the clean, family image that had been created for Elvis in most of his previous 1960s films. However, Charro! is still quite entertaining, and Victor French as villain Vince Hackett is not-to-be-missed.

#7 Love Me Tender (1956)
As an actor, Elvis is still very raw in Love Me Tender, his first movie. Nevertheless, the Western has an endearing quality and a solid storyline. Debra Paget and Richard Egan bring quality performances in their starring roles. Unfortunately, three of the film’s four songs are abysmal – a sign of things to come.

#6 Flaming Star (1960)
In one of his best dramatic roles, Elvis stars as Pacer Burton, who is torn between his dual heritages. This one features only two songs, the solid title tune and the wretched “Cane and a High Starched Collar.” Flaming Star was directed by Don Siegel, who went on to direct Clint Eastwood in a number of films – including Dirty Harry.

#5 Loving You (1957)
Loving You captures the early rock ‘n’ roll era better than any other Elvis movie. Elvis sizzles on screen, along with co-star Dolores Hart. Unlike his other 1950s movies, this one is in full-color. Musical highlights include “Mean Woman Blues,” “Got A Lot O’ Livin’ To Do,” and the title tune.

#4 Viva Las Vegas (1964)
The chemistry between Elvis and co-star Ann-Margret elevates Viva Las Vegas above the other Elvis formula movies. This is the best example of the “typical” Elvis movie – but if only all had been this great!

#3 King Creole (1958)
As an actor, Elvis displays the most potential in King Creole. Only Jailhouse Rock‘s superior soundtrack stops this from being his best movie of the 1950s. I began a series of articles last year on King Creole, and the associated research brought me a newfound respect for this film – which would have otherwise been hovering at the bottom of this top ten list. I still have not finished that King Creole series, but I hope to get back to it at some point before The Mystery Train returns to the station for good.

#2 Change Of Habit (1969)
Outside of the Westerns, Change of Habit is one of the best movies to really feature Elvis in a “normal” role. Sure, he knocks out a few great tunes along the way, but Change of Habit is more drama than musical. Listen out for an instrumental version of “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” by Dr. John Carpenter (Elvis) on piano.

#1 Jailhouse Rock (1957)
Among Elvis movies, Jailhouse Rock has it all: fabulous story, co-stars, and songs. While every song is a highlight, the title tune is the real classic – one of his best-ever songs, movie or otherwise!

12 thoughts on “Elvis Countdown: The 10 Best Movies

  1. Great choices. For me, King Creole would be number one and Live A Little, Love A Little would be much higher. I would also include Wild In The Country and Follow That Dream. Colin.

    Like

    • Thank you, Colin. Along with Kid Galahad, Wild In The Country and Follow That Dream would certainly be in my Top 15. I had to stop the list somewhere, though.

      Like

      • It’s hard to make a top 10 anything with Elvis. What’s in the list one week may not make it a week or two later. That’s one of the things I love about being an Elvis fan, his career is so diverse.

        Like

        • Yes, exactly! I’m glad he didn’t stick to just one style of music. He was all over the board and actually left tons of material behind. That’s part of what makes him so interesting compared to most other performers. There’s just so much there to delve into.

          Like

    • Sonny, I am one of two people left on the planet who is not on the Facebook, so I cannot help you much. You should see a “Facebook” button near the bottom of the article, though (under “Share This”). Clicking that should point you in the right direction. Thanks for trying to share.

      Like

  2. Hey Troy – definitely a unique list. Usually KING CREOLE tops lists of Elvis’ best movies, so I am glad to see JAILHOUSE ROCK getting its due for a change!! (Although both movies are arguably his best films!)

    My kudos go out to you though for recognizing CHANGE OF HABIT as something other than an afterthought in Elvis’ movie career. This film almost always gets left behind, so to speak, when it comes to speaking of Elvis’ acting career, but CHANGE OF HABIT certainly showcased a much more mature Elvis handling a tough theme. The songs in the movie, while definitely above average for the most part, do occasionally seem a little out of place and I could just as easily have seen this film being like CHARRO! in that it only featured a title song played over the opening credits. Still…I commend you for giving such high consideration to CHANGE OF HABIT.

    I am also pleasantly surprised that BLUE HAWAII did not make your list. Generally, BLUE HAWAII is listed as one of Elvis’ best musicals and while it certainly is a fine film, I’ve never understood why it always ranks so highly on lists of Elvis’ best films.

    Anyway, well done my friend!! I always enjoy taking a ride on the Mystery Train and look forward to our next stop!

    TCB!
    Mike

    Like

    • Thanks for the comments, Mike. I agree that it would have been interesting to see a version of Change of Habit without the songs. However, I must admit, I think I would miss them, as I enjoy all of the songs in that particular movie (in itself quite rare).

      Regarding Blue Hawaii, certainly one of his better soundtracks – particularly with the inclusion of “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” It also has a wonderful location, of course. The actual movie, though, always leaves something to be desired for me. The funny thing is, it is my wife’s favorite Elvis movie – so I get to watch it more than I probably otherwise would (then again, she gets to watch and listen to Elvis tons more than she otherwise would were it not for her insane husband). It is, by far, the best of his three Hawaiian movies, at least.

      Like

      • You’re very welcome Troy! I guess it’s a matter of personal taste, as I always have had a soft spot for PARADISE HAWAIIAN STYLE. Certainly not one of his best movies and a less-than-stellar soundtrack, but for some reason, I have just always had a fondness for this movie!

        Hmmm….CHANGE OF HABIT without the songs? Interesting thought…although I’m like you and have always enjoyed the soundtrack.

        Take care my friend and again…MANY THANKS for all you do!!
        TCB!
        Mike

        Like

Comments are closed.