Commemorating the Death of Elvis Presley with Five Of His Movies Worth Checking Out

Elvis Presley movies get a rap for being mindless cash-grabs capitalizing on his world-renowned fame. The perception that they’re nothing more than a continuous series of music videos starring Mr. Rock n’ Roll is perhaps valid to some degree, but there were titles where Presley put forth solid acting performances. He longed to be like another James Dean and while his music career overshadowed his films, there is certainly a handful worth watching. In commemoration of the King of Rock and Roll’s death on this date 34 years ago, we present five Elvis movies worth checking out.

Jailhouse Rock (1957)
Elvis’ third film found him starting to come into his own as an on-screen performer. Aside from the massively popular title track, there’s more grit than usual in this tale of a short-tempered ex-con whose musical talents bring him both fame and heartbreak. Aided by a solid supporting performance from Mickey Shaughnessy, Jailhouse finds Elvis launching a promising acting career that would be followed with King Creole.

King Creole (1958)
In this gritty drama about corruption in New Orleans, Elvis stars as a nightclub singer trying to escape the clutches of a Big Easy crime boss. Easily one of his edgiest performances, Presley manages to hold his own against a terrifying performance from Walter Matthau. Following this movie, Elvis began his two-year stint in the Army and a decade of mediocre musicals which pretty much tarnished the perception of his filmography.

Flaming Star (1960)
In this largely non-musical performance, Elvis stars as Pacer Burton, a bi-racial man torn between his white and Kiowa Indian heritages. Directed by Dirty Harry director Don Siegel, Star co-starred Barbara Eden and Dolores del Rio. A still frame shot of a gun-toting Elvis became an iconic Andy Warhol print.

Wild in the Country (1961)
Easily Elvis’ most underrated movie and also least musical finds Presley giving one of his most dramatic performances as an aspiring writer who gets into girl trouble--and not the fun kind. The three women who bring drama into The King’s life are played by Tuesday Weld, Hope Lange and Millie Perkins. The underwhelming success at the box office crushed Presley’s dreams of becoming a serious actor. Following this movie, he resigned himself to eight years of formulaic musicals.

Viva Las Vegas (1964)
One of those formulaic musicals that Elvis resigned himself to was this comedy co-starring Ann-Margret, who was fresh off her performance as Kim McAfee in Bye Bye Birdie. In Ann-Margret, Elvis found his greatest leading lady, the only performer who could compete with him in showmanship, sex appeal and hip-shaking dance moves. As the pair try to one-up each other, they set the screen ablaze.


We’ve left off a few more notable titles including Love Me Tender (his first major film), Blue Hawaii and G.I. Blues. What’s your favorite Elvis movie?

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