LOVE ME TENDER – Elvis Presley's First Film Role (Part 3)

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The action of the western begins in 1865, when a small Confederate unit led by the aforementioned Vence Reno robs a Union train. The soldiers intend to treat the stolen money as spoils of war. However, their plans are thwarted by the information that… the war has just come to an end.

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Things get even more complicated when Vence returns home. His appearance in his homeland, instead of the expected joy, causes a huge surprise and turns out to be a shock for all the inhabitants of the city. The reason for these strange reactions turns out to be a rumor circulating for many months about his alleged death on the battlefield.

As it soon turns out, this untrue information has even more severe consequences for Vence. After crossing the threshold of his family home, he learns that Clint, convinced of his death, has married his fiancée, Cathy.

Not wanting to stand in the way of his younger brother’s happiness (and unable to accept the loss of his great love), Vence decides to go to the West, leaving a large part of the looted money to his family.

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He informs his family about his plans during a picnic, where Major Kincaid and Detective Siringo from the Pinkerton Agency unexpectedly appear, demanding the return of the stolen property … Eventually, Vence and two of his brothers involved in the train robbery – Ray and Brett, are arrested and brought before the court.

Hillbilly Cat in Hollywood

Leading roles in the new western 20th Century Fox went to two experienced Hollywood actors – Richard Egan (pictured with Elvis) and Debra Paget. Elvis, who at that time could be considered his biggest star, got only a small supporting role – Clint Reno.

Originally, the role was so small that many great actors of the time, such as Robert Wagner or Jeffrey Hunter, passed it completely indifferently.

The plot of the youngest of the Reno brothers was significantly expanded only after the conclusion of the contract with Elvis – in August 1956. ” We signed Elvis ($100,000) as soon as we heard he was available ,” producer David Weisbart claimed in an interview.

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And interestingly, if you believe the memories of Presley’s then girlfriend, June Juanico, the famous singer also very reluctantly agreed to play the younger brother of Vence Reno in the movie. His fears were supposedly aroused by the fact that the hero he created was fatally shot in the last minutes of the film. It was only his partner, the above-mentioned June Juanico, who was to convince him to accept the role, explaining to him that it is the characters who meet a tragic fate that stay in the viewers’ memory the longest.

The news that Elvis will appear in the cast of “The Reno Brothers” circulated in the media in mid-August. The fans were delighted. Journalists writing for the largest American newspapers are definitely less (the New York Times called Presley’s participation in the production something ” between fantasy and drama “).

Shooting was scheduled to begin on August 22, 1956, just a few days after Elvis finished another intensive tour lasting several weeks.

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Going to Hollywood meant for Presley not only the beginning of a new chapter in his spectacular career. For him, who not so long ago acted as an usher at the Low State Theater in Memphis and surreptitiously peeked at the greatest cinema icons on the screen, it was above all a youthful dream come true. ” If I had to pick one place to live – just one – and it couldn’t be Graceland, it would be Hollywood, ” the singer declared in one of his later interviews.

No wonder that as he boarded an American Airlines flight from Memphis to Los Angeles on August 16 (Elvis was accompanied by his cousin, Gene Smith), the singer seemed extremely excited and excited.

After landing in the City of Angels, Presley checked into the Knickerbocker Hotel (room 1016) at 1714 Ivar Avenue, which opened in the late 1920s. From there, he went straight to 20th Century Fox headquarters for his first pre-production meeting and costume fitting. The meeting is scheduled for August 20.

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“When [Elvis, author’s note] came to Hollywood for a screen test, I didn’t have the dialogue lines ready for his first movie, Love Me Tender ,” Hal Wallis recounted. ” So I had to send him back to Memphis and then I sent him the dialogue letters which I finally got from 20th Century Fox. Just when we were ready to start recording, Elvis arrived and it turned out that he knew not only his role by heart, but also all the others! “.

There, Elvis also met with the rest of the cast, including Richard Egan, Mildred Dunnock, who played the role of the mother of the infamous Reno brothers, and James Drury. “ In ‘Love Me Tender’, Richard Egan and Bill (William) Campbell played key roles as Elvis’ older brothers ,” Drury told “ Elvis did a really great job for a budding actor. In fact, I think he was even better in Love Me Tender than any of his later films because he was able to work on a real story and put himself in a real dramatic situation. “

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The actor also remembered that while filming “Love Me Tender”, Presley was a thirsty for knowledge, sincere young man. “He wanted to learn acting ,” he said. “ He was constantly asking us about different camera angles and how to be successful in this field. And we were giving him the best advice we could .

Information provided by EP Promised Land (Poland) Marius Ogieglo

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