February is Oscar month, and whenever it rolls around, I’m reminded of how the Academy Awards spurned Elvis Presley throughout his film career. So I think that it would be appropriate that we Elvis fans hand out our own awards for the superior performances in Elvis’s 31 theatrical movies. I’ve come up with eight categories and selected the nominees based on what I believe a vote of Elvis movie fans would have chosen.
In an “Overview” I’ve tried to briefly list the strengths of each nominee. The “fan choice” is the nominee I believe to be the odds-on-favorite prior to voting. Finally, I list my personal choice in each category. The winners, however, were ultimately determined by a vote of Elvis fans. After listing the nominations, I asked readers of my blog send me their choices. I compiled the votes, and the winners in each category will be announced at the end of this web page.
BEST MUSICAL SOUNDTRACK
• Blue Hawaii (“Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “Beach Boy Blues,” “Hawaiian Wedding Song,” etc.)
• G.I. Blues (“Wooden Heart,” “Shoppin’ Around,” “Tonight Is So Right for Love,” etc.)
• Jailhouse Rock (“Treat Me Nice,” “Baby, I Don’t Care,” “Young and Beautiful,” etc.)
• King Creole (“Dixieland Rock,” “As Long As I Have You,” “Hard Headed Woman,” etc.)
• Viva Las Vegas (“What’d I Say,” “C’mon Everybody,” “My Rival,” etc.)
Overview: The Hawaii movie has the most quality songs, but its tropical theme is narrow. Vegas has the advantage of Ann-Margret’s vocals supplementing Elvis’s work. Jailhouse Rock and King Creole spotlight Presley’s classic fifties style. G.I. Blues is the sentimental choice of those Elvis fans who desperately needed an Elvis fix after his two years away in the Army.
Fans’ pick: Blue Hawaii
Alan Hanson’s pick: Blue Hawaii
• “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (from Blue Hawaii)
• “Jailhouse Rock” (from Jailhouse Rock)
• “Love Me Tender” (from Love Me Tender)
• “Mean Woman Blues” (from Loving You)
• “Return to Sender” (from Girls! Girls! Girls!)
Overview: Two earlier rockers, two ballads, and a pop rhythm tune—it comes down to personal taste. “Jailhouse Rock” and “Mean Woman Blues” are boosted by classic Presley renditions on film, while the two ballads are sentimental choices. “Return to Sender” was Elvis’s last hit movie single for a long time. It’s a tough call.
Fans’ pick: “Can’t Help Falling in Love”
Alan Hanson’s pick: “Return to Sender”
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
• Lola Albright (as Dolly Fletcher in Kid Galahad)
• Dolores Del Rio (as Neddy Burton in Flaming Star)
• Carolyn Jones (as Ronnie in King Creole)
• Angela Lansbury (as Sarah Lee Gates in Blue Hawaii)
• Judy Tyler (as Peggy Van Alden in Jailhouse Rock)
Overview: Tyler is the sentimental favorite, as her death made this her last role. Del Rio and Lansbury both played mothers of Elvis’s character—Del Rio in a dramatic role; Lansbury in a comedic one. Albright stood out in a top-flight cast in Kid Galahad. Jones got the best reviews. (“Carolyn Jones is a knockout as a fallen thrush … their aborted romance gives the pic its finest scenes.” — Billboard)
Fans pick: Carolyn Jones
Alan Hanson’s pick: Angela Lansbury
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
• Walter Matthau (as Maxie Fields in King Creole)
• Jack Mullaney (as Stanley Potter in Tickle Me)
• Arthur O’Connell (as Pop Kwimper in Follow That Dream)
• Harold J. Stone (as Big Frank in Girl Happy)
• Gig Young (as Willy Grogan in Kid Galahad)
Overview: All played quite different roles. Matthau a cruel gangster; Mullaney a bumbling sidekick; O’Connell a simple but responsible father; Stone a harsh but caring father; and Young an inept, small-time boxing promoter.
Fans pick: Walter Matthau
Alan Hanson’s pick: Arthur O’Connell
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
• Ann-Margret (as Rusty Martin in Viva Las Vegas)
• Michele Carey (as Bernice in Live a Little, Love a Little)
• Shelley Fabares (as Valerie in Girl Happy)
• Mary Tyler Moore (as Sister Michelle in Change of Habit)
• Joan O’Brien (as Diana Warren in It Happened At the World’s Fair)
Overview: Girl Happy was the best of Fabares’s three leading lady roles with Elvis. Ann-Margret came close to stealing the show from Elvis. Carey played an interesting enigma in Live a Little. O’Brien’s nurse made Elvis work to earn her affection. In Change of Habit Moore showed some of the flair that would make her seventies TV series so successful.
Fans pick: Ann-Margret
Alan Hanson’s pick: Ann-Margret
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
• Elvis Presley (as Vince Everett in Jailhouse Rock)
• Elvis Presley (as Danny Fisher in King Creole)
• Elvis Presley (as Toby Kwimper in Follow That Dream)
• Elvis Presley (as Walter Gulick in Kid Galahad)
• Elvis Presley (as Lonnie Beale in Tickle Me)
Overview: Presley’s a sure winner, but for which role? He was convincing as an angry young man turned singer in both Jaillhouse Rock and King Creole. Lonnie Beale was his only straight comedic role. In Follow That Dream he showed both his comedic and dramatic talent. As Walter Gulick, Elvis made believable the unbelievable—that anybody with Elvis Presley’s physique could actually be a boxer.
Fans pick: Elvis Presley in King Creole
Alan Hanson’s pick: Elvis Presley in Follow That Dream
BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
• Change of Habit (Elvis Presley, Mary Tyler Moore, Barbara McNair, Ruth McDevitt)
• Jailhouse Rock (Elvis Presley, Judy Tyler, Mickey Shaughnessy, Vaughn Taylor)
• Kid Galahad (Elvis Presley, Gig Young, Charles Bronson, Lola Albright)
• King Creole (Elvis Presley, Walter Matthau, Carolyn Jones, Dean Jagger)
• Love Me Tender (Richard Egan, Debra Paget, Elvis Presley, Mildred Dunnock)
• Blue Hawaii (Paramount, 1961)
• Jailhouse Rock (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1957)
• Follow That Dream (United Artists, 1962)
• Kid Galahad (United Artists, 1962)
• King Creole (Paramount, 1958)
• Viva Las Vegas (Metro-Godwyn-Mayer, 1964)
Overview: Fifty years after it was made, Jailhouse Rock is recognized as Presley’s classic rock 'n' roll film. Elvis’s acting talent was first recognized in King Creole, the darkest and most serious of all his films. Blue Hawaii was Elvis’s greatest success at the box office. Both comedic and dramatic scenes make Follow That Dream memorable. In Kid Galahad Presley shared the screen with a host of talented and professional actors.
Fans pick: King Creole
Alan Hanson’s pick: Follow That Dream
Blog readers were asked to vote only for the nominees. No write-ins. Ballots were accepted for one week, after which the following winners of the Academy Awards for Elvis Presley movies were announced. And the winners were … (drum roll, please!)
Best Musical Soundtrack: Blue Hawaii
Best Song: "Jailhouse Rock"
Best Supporting Actress: Carolyn Jones in King Creole
Best Supporting Actor: Walter Matthau in King Creole
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Ann-Margret in Viva Las Vegas
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Elvis Presley in King Creole
Best Acting Ensemble: King Creole
Best Picture: King Creole
As expected, King Creole was the big winner, taking five of the eight awards. For me the only surprise in the voting was how close the race for Best Actress was between winner Ann-Margret and runner-up Michele Carey. — Alan Hanson | © February 2009
"It is appropriate that we Elvis fans hand out our own awards for the superior performances in Elvis’s 31 theatrical movies."