Film Review: Loving You
In 1957, Hal Kanter released Loving You, based on the 1956 short story "A Call from Mitch Miller" by Mary Agnes Thompson and inspired by the reaction of fans from Elvis Presley's March 31, 1956 performance on Louisiana Hayride. Starring Presley, Lizabeth Scott, Wendell Corey, James Gleason, Ralph Dumke, Paul Smith, Ken Becker, Jana Lund and Dolores Hart, the film grossed $3.7 million at the box office.
When seasoned country bandleader Walter Warner and his manager Glenda Markle work for the campaign of a Texas gubernatorial candidate, they revive sagging interest by using local singer Deke Rivers. Seeing such a positive reception, Glenda convinces Deke to join the Tex Warner show. However, while Deke is loved by teenage fans, the older generation complains.
Despite Loving You not being a stellar film, it is pretty decent and while Presley doesn’t act as strongly as he did in his previous film, his performance is still pretty good in this one. The apprehension Deke feels at the moment he’s asked to sing for the campaign, followed by the enthusiasm he shows after the song comes off very natural. It makes the scene seem like what Presley may have felt prior to and immediately after his first performance. That's the way it is for most of the film where it feels like Presley is pretty much just acting as himself. For the most part, his persona seems natural. Yet, there are other times the acting feels pretty unnatural, such as following the car wreck at the end and his argument with Glenda. It’s not terrible acting, it just doesn’t flow as well as earlier scenes did.
In fact, most of the film could be seen as a parallel to Presley’s real life, rising from a practical nobody to one of the biggest stars of the time. A fascinating portion of the film is when Glenda decides to have a couple of older women make unflattering remarks concerning Deke’s singing in the presence of his fans, which subsequently brews a controversy which she has the paper take photos of. Not only is it a notable demonstration of how a manufactured controversy is developed, but it looks like something Colonel Parker would actually have done in order to drum up attraction to Presley and his music. The aforementioned scene with the car wreck and argument with Glenda is also captivating. Regardless of the scene containing merely tolerable acting, it presented a veritable crossroads Presley might have found himself in at one point. He and Colonel Parker had probably fought about his career and future before, like after the first Las Vegas tour, and Presley could have drawn from something similar in the midst of his performance during the scene.
What’s more is the film is more than capable in presenting the conflict between generations when it came to enjoyment of rock and roll. When Deke is supposed to sing in Freegate, the mayor cancels the show after complaints about the music from teenagers’ parents. At the same time though, said teenagers were always ecstatic about seeing Deke, one fan even going so far as to hitting on him. This conflict is a good mirror of reality, considering the older generation had always been wary of rock music during the rise of the genre while the younger were welcoming it with excited open arms. The former even did go so far as to sneer and look down on the genre with some concerts even being canceled in a manner comparable to the film. Nevertheless, the damage control done by Glenda is fascinating, appealing to the older generation’s reaction to the Jazz Age and making them remember how their parents hated jazz and the very culture around it while they reacted like the teenagers are reacting to Deke. Further, she arranges a studio telecast with fans appealing to them about their enjoyment of Deke and his music after it’s delayed because he ran away. Susan’s move in showing he wasn’t there was also a great idea, albeit a pretty gutsy one. After all, if provoking their nostalgia wasn't effective, nor their sense of enjoyment, then making them realize Deke was a person affected by their remarks would. It’s really a great story all around.
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