Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Elvis Impersonation On Film: 10 Pretenders To The Crown

Inspired by the inspired casting of cult legend Bruce Campbell (The EVIL DEAD movies) as Elvis Presley in BUBBA HO TEP (2002) (to be released on DVD on May 25th) we thought it would be fun to take a look at:



Russell took on the roll of the King in the 1979 made-for-TV ELVIS : THE MOVIE (his first of five films for director John Carpenter), and also voiced Presley in FORREST GUMP. His uncanny likeness to the King was further exploited when he played an Elvis impersonator in Demian Lichtenstein’s 3000 MILES TO GRACELAND (2001). Amazingly Russell's first feature film role when he was only a child was in an Elvis movie, Michael Taurog's IT HAPPENED AT THE WORLD'S FAIR (1963). The best Elvis on this list for sure.

2. MICHAEL ST. GERALD: Also a convincing look-a-like, Gerald did a brief cameo as Elvis in Jim McBride's unfortunately lame-as-Hell Jerry Lee Lewis bio-pick GREAT BALLS OF FIRE (1989, but he had better material and a more respectful forum in the sinfully short-lived Elvis TV series (1990). Like with Russell's turn as the King, Gerald's vocals were provided by Ronnie McDowell.

3. NICHOLAS CAGE: Never played Elvis on film but appeared as Tiny Elvis on Saturday Night Live in 1992, disguised himself as a sky-diving Elvis impersonator in HONEYMOON IN VEGAS, was a curled lipped Elvis fanatic in David Linch’s WILD AT HEART, and he was briefly married to Lisa Marie Presley. Whew!


Only on stage and SNL did Kaufman do his full blown Elvis impression but he’s one of a kind on this list because he was approved by the King as his own favorite impersonator. In Milos Forman's 2000 biopic MAN ON THE MOON when Jim Carrey did Andy doing Elvis I heard that somewhere in the cosmos John Belushi's caller ID exploded. I have no idea what that means.

5. VAL KILMER: Not content with having nailed the Lizard King, Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's THE DOORS (1991), Kilmer inhabited the character of Elvis' ghost who counsels Christian Slater in Tony Scott's Quentin Tarantino-scripted TRUE ROMANCE (1992).

6. DAVID KEITH: An awful unconvincing portrayal in Chris Columbus' awful unconvincing 1988 comedy HEARTBREAK HOTEL, a severely misguided attempt to theorize that Elvis’s last sad years in Vegas could have been turned around by idealistic teenager who kidnaps him as a gift for his depressed mother Tuesday Weld. Weld was actually in a movie with the King, Philip Dunne's WILD IN THE COUNTRY (1961), but I digress.

7. DON JOHNSON: What the…?!!? Yep, that's right. In Gus Trikonis' long forgotten 1981 TV movie ELVIS AND THE BEAUTY QUEEN, the later stubbled, sockless, pink T-shirt wearing Miami Vice superstar was actually cast as the King. 

8. DALE MIDKIFF: Who?!!? I dunno, just a guy who played the King in ELVIS AND ME, another bad Elvis made-for-TV movie based on Priscilla Presley’s book of the same name. Shame shame shame.


Any Elvis impersonator would be doomed in Allan Arkush's extremely lowbrow 1997 cable movie ELVIS MEETS NIXON, but this guy doesn’t cut it at all.

10. STEPHEN JONES: Just for a haunting moment in Jim Jarmusch’s MYSTERY TRAIN (1989) Elvis’s ghost appears to Nicoletta Braschi giving this execellent movie another layer in it’s depiction of late 80’s Memphis. Also in the same movie the late great Joe Strummer spouts: “Don't call me Elvis! If you can't use my proper name, why don't you try "Carl Perkins, Jr." or something? I mean, I don't call them "Sam & Dave", do I?”

Until next time: 
Elvis has left the building.

More later...


Anonymous said...

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