“It’s like I’m always walking around with a full cup of anger, trying not to spill it.”
After nearly killing his brother in a provoked fist fight, a talented but troubled young writer (Elvis Presley) is sent by a judge (Jason Robards, Sr.) to live with his uncle (William Mims) and Mims’ daughter (Tuesday Weld), who has a baby, while also attending therapy sessions with a beautiful widowed psychologist (Hope Lange). Mims hopes to “catch” Presley and Weld together so they’ll get married, but Presley — who already has a girlfriend (Millie Perkins) — slowly starts falling for Lange, who is meanwhile resisting engagement to a lawyer (John Ireland) with a hot-headed son (Gary Lockwood).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Elvis Presley Films
- Hope Lange Films
- John Ireland Films
- Juvenile Delinquents
- Love Triangle
- Millie Perkins Films
- Tuesday Weld Films
In addition to two concert films, Peary lists “just” nine Elvis Presley movies (out of a total of 31) in his GFTFF. This adaptation of a debut novel by J.R. Salamanca — probably best known as author of the source-novel for Lilith (1964) — is a reasonably well-scripted (by Clifford Odets) melodrama about a gifted young man born into a society that doesn’t really have space or patience for him. Weld seems to be enjoying her role as a “wild” single mom eager for some fun, and Presley’s performance isn’t bad — but it’s somewhat laughable to see 26-year-old Presley referring to 28-year-old Lange with deference as “ma’am”, given how much chemistry they clearly have together (casting 40-year-old Simone Signoret in the role, as originally intended, would probably have worked better). A whole lot of melodrama ensues in this story, which is certainly worth a look by Presley fans but not must-see viewing.
Note: According to TCM’s article, “Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’s manager, insisted that the studio insert several songs into the film or it wouldn’t be an Elvis Presley picture”; the songs aren’t bad but don’t quite seem to fit.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Hope Lange as Mrs. Sperry
- Tuesday Weld as Noreen Braxton
- Some well-crafted dialogue:
“You’re wild and unsettled, like a porcupine that can’t be held.”
“Life’s got its shadows enough… Live and let live.”
No, though it’s certainly worth a look.