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Elvis is in the building

The Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year seasons give a weekly columnist a lot of material.  We have so much to be thankful for.  Our families often surround us and there are so many memories of Christmas past. We reflect on the past year and project on the coming one.  After a while, however, you just want to write about something else.

On New Year’s Day evening my wife and I found ourselves alone at home and were looking for something to watch on television.  No more football, and please, no more Hallmark movies.   We finally settled on a movie simply entitled, Elvis.  

To be honest, neither of us were ever big Elvis fans although we were growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  Even though he was never our personal “King of Rock and Roll”, his legacy and role in the changing face of music is undisputable.   I first became aware of the movie when I saw an interview with actor Austin Butler, who played the title role.   He seemed like a quiet, thoughtful, and reflective kind of guy and it piqued my interest as to how this admittedly shy kid had evolved into an actor that could tackle such a big role.  After all, Elvis with his wriggling hips and variety of musical tastes was a showman of the first order.   While the 30-year-old Austin, who has had a long record of acting credits starting with Disney and Nickelodeon shows, rose to the occasion, the film was helped by the presence of Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker.  I thought it was one of Hank’s most memorable performances. Colonel Parker, who it turns out was no Colonel at all, helped Elvis rise to the top, but Parker manipulated and controlled Elvis throughout his entire career.  

As the movie drew to its inevitable conclusion, you could not help but feel sorry for the aging singer.  How might his life have turned out if he had shed Parker earlier in his career and surrounded himself with people that truly had Presley’s interest at heart.

Olivia DeJonge, an Australian actress, played Priscilla Presley and helped bring the love story of Elvis and his young bride to life.  She eventually left him, but it seemed she never stopped loving him.

I learned so much that was either just a memory, or that I just never totally understood the story of Elvis Presley.  In a way, the movie helped make sense of a life of talent and destiny that appeared to have crashed and burned.  

Along the way, I got to enjoy some good music, see how and why his styles changed over the years, and most importantly discover the roots of where the musical soul of Elvis Presley came from.

I do not profess to be a movie critic, but it has been a long time since I have watched a movie and been so captivated and mesmerized from start to finish.   My reaction was a real surprise to me, since I was never a really big fan.

If you are looking for something to do, check out the new hit movie, Elvis.  For one brief night, Elvis is back in the building. 


Dan Ponder can be reached at

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