Schlagwortarchiv für: Change of Habit

Elvis in Hollywood: Interview mit Paul Simpson

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Der britische Journalist Paul Simpson ist Autor der lesenswerten englischsprachigen Buchveröffentlichung »Elvis Films FAQ: All That’s Left To Know About the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Hollywood« (2013), die sich ausführlich mit Elvis Presleys Hollywoodfilmen beschäftigt. Im folgenden Interview mit »The Memphis Flash« gibt Paul Simpson spannende Einblicke in die Filmkarriere des King.

Kennt sich mit Elvis Presleys Filmen aus: Journalist, Buchautor und Elvis-Fan Paul Simpson – Foto: Paul Simpson

Elvis Films FAQ, was so viel heißt wie »häufig gestellte Fragen zu Elvis‘ Filmen«, ist bereits Paul Simpsons zweite Veröffentlichung über den King of Rock ‘n’ Roll – die erste erschien 2005 unter dem Titel The Rough Guide to Elvis.

Darüber hinaus veröffentlichte Simpson (*1961), der unter anderem als Redakteur für das Fußballmagazin Champions Matchday – The official magazine of the UEFA Champions League arbeitet, eine ganze Reihe weiterer Bücher zu Themen der Popkultur. Dazu gehören The Rough Guide to James Bond (2002), The Rough Guide to Cult Fiction (2005) und 397 Ways To Pick A DVD (2009).

INTERVIEW

The Memphis Flash: Paul, als professioneller Autor und langjähriger Elvis-Fan, warum hast Du so viel Arbeit in ein Buch – immerhin über 400 Seiten – gesteckt, das sich ausschließlich mit Elvis Presleys 31 Hollywoodfilmen beschäftigt? Die Filme waren zu ihrer Zeit zwar an der Kinokasse ziemlich erfolgreich, aber heute stehen sie bei vielen Fans, Kritikern und Biografen des King, darunter auch Peter Guralnick, nicht gerade hoch im Kurs. Nicht wenige halten Elvis Presleys Schauspielambitionen für einen Tiefpunkt seiner Karriere. Macht ein Buch wie Elvis Films FAQ da überhaupt Sinn?

Paul Simpson: Es macht schon allein deshalb Sinn, weil die Filme Elvis selbst wichtig waren. Und für einen Fan wie mich, der versucht, sein Leben und seine Karriere als Ganzes zu verstehen, ist es daher auch sinnvoll, sich näher mit ihnen zu beschäftigen. Außerdem haben sie eine ganze Reihe großartiger Musik und unvergessliche Szenen hervorgebracht, die mit ein Grund sind, weshalb Elvis Presley heute eine solche globale Ikone ist. Einige der Filme sind ganz sicher genauere Einzelbetrachtungen wert, wie etwa die beiden Höhepunkte King Creole (1958) und Flaming Star (1960). Die Rahmenbedingungen, unter denen die Filme entstanden, werfen zudem ein Licht darauf, wie die gesamte Karriere Elvis Presleys gemanagt wurde.

Flaming Star 1960: Elvis Presley with Barbara Eden and Steve Forrest

Flaming Star 1960: Elvis Presley als Halbindianer Pacer mit Co-Stars Barbara Eden und Steve Forrest

Bis heute sind die Filme ein Aspekt in der Karriere Elvis Presleys, der unterrepräsentiert ist. Peter Guralnick scheint es in seiner beinahe definitiven Elvis-Biografie kaum abwarten zu können, über einige der Musicals aus den 1960ern möglichst schnell hinweg z ugehen. Ich kann das durchaus verstehen. Aber wenn Elvis nicht der nächste James Dean oder Tony Curtis hätte sein wollen, hätten wir am Ende vielleicht nie etwas von ihm gehört.

The Memphis Flash: Von diesem Traum sprach Elvis ja auch selbst in seiner Dankesrede anlässlich der Vergabe des Jaycee Award 1971: „When I was a child, ladies and gentlemen, I was a dreamer. […] I saw movies, and I was the hero in the movie...“

Paul Simpson: Genau. Das Bild, das ich jetzt, nachdem mein Buch erschienen ist, immer noch im Kopf habe, ist das des jungen Elvis in Tupelo, der zusammen mit seinem Vater ins Kino eilt (etwas, was die Assembly-of-God-Kirchengemeinde der Presleys in den 1930ern und 1940ern sicher nicht guthieß), wo er sich für die Filme der damaligen Zeit begeistert, wo er Bing Crosby hört, wie er Blue Hawaii in dem Film Wakiki Wedding singt, und wo er selbst davon träumt, mit seiner Familie einmal ein anderes Leben zu führen. War es nicht gerade diese Form des Eskapismus, dieser Traum, der die Hoffnung in ihm wachhielt, der bitteren Armut seiner Jugend entkommen zu können?

The Memphis Flash: Das ist sehr wahrscheinlich. Was ich besonders faszinierend an Elvis Films FAQ finde, sind die vielen unterschiedlichen Perspektiven von Regisseuren, Drehbuchautoren und Co-Stars, die Du zusammengetragen hast. Es gibt da beispielsweise eine Passage, in der Du Drehbuchautor Allan Weiss, der gleich eine ganze Reihe Drehbücher für so erfolgreiche Hal Wallis-Produktionen wie Blue Hawaii (mit Hal Kanter, 1961), Girls, Girls, Girls (1962) und Fun in Acapulco (1963) geschrieben hat, mit den Worten zitierst:

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Understanding Elvis: Interview with Nigel Patterson

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One of the most amazing things about Elvis Presley are his fans. The amount of creative, well-educated and dedicated people among them who manage to do continuous in-depth research and writing about the man besides having successful professional careers and active family lives is simply astounding.

One of their key figures who for decades has helped to better understand Elvis Presley’s life, career and cultural impact on many different levels is Nigel Patterson from Australia. The Memphis Flash has talked to the Elvis expert about his passion for the King and what interests him most: Elvis‘ films and books.

INTERVIEW

The Memphis Flash: Nigel, most English-speaking Elvis aficionados are familiar with you as Honorary President of the Elvis Information Network (EIN), an Australian fan club that runs one of the, if not the most prolific and informative websites on Elvis Presley: www.elvisinfonet.com. Apart from that, not too much is known about you (at least not in Germany). Please do tell us more about yourself, your background and what made you such an expert on everything Elvis.

Nigel Patterson: I am originally from Northern Ireland and my family moved to Canberra, capital city of the “lucky country”, Australia, in the early 1960s.  While I knew of Elvis and seen some of his movies I did not become a fan until early 1969 when on a school excursion to Griffith, a small town in the winery region of country New South Wales. As I would learn later Griffith was also a hot spot for dope production in Australia (but I digress)!  While on the bus we were listening to 2CA, the only commercial radio station in Canberra at the time, and Edge of Reality came on.  I was hooked the moment I heard it and my interest in things Elvis quickly grew from there.

The Memphis Flash: Sounds like a fun way of being introduced to Elvis ;-). The psychedelic Edge Of Reality from the movie Live A Little, Love A Little (German: Liebling, laß‘ das Lügen, 1968) was a hit in Australia, right? It’s relatively unknown in Germany though. Let’s give it a listen.

Elvis Presleys Edge of Reality – Complete Masters

 

The Memphis Flash: How was being an Elvis fan like in Australia in the late 1960s?

Nigel Patterson: Living “downunder” in a snail mail and pre-Internet time we relied on primarily newspapers and magazines for our news of overseas stars.  I started buying the newsstand magazine Elvis Monthly (which, due to its small size, fitted nicely into the inside pocket of my school jacket and served me well when I became bored with scholarly instruction), subscribed to Rocky Barra’s Strictly Elvis and submerged myself in various popular Aussie magazines including Movie News, Everybody’s and the Australasian Post, as they regularly featured Elvis on their cover and had feature articles inside.

elvis-monthly-1960

In the early 70s I joined my first Elvis fan club, run by Bob Stephens in Sydney and I started contributing to Rex Martin’s fantastic Worldwide Weekly Elvis News Service and later Elvis Monthly.

The Memphis Flash: Some great magazines that have iconic status among fans today. I’ve seen that there is an → interesting interview with Rocky Barra, the guy behind Strictly Elvis, on EIN. Besides magazines films soon became another great interest of yours?

Nigel Patterson: From my childhood years growing up during the silver age of television I always had a fascination with TV shows and films.  In the late 1970s-early 1980s I became a reviewer for the Brisbane Film Group (BFG) enjoying working “flexi-time” (before it was introduced to the bureaucracy) as I was given free tickets to watch and review films screening usually at 11 am in the morning. I remember the first time I asked my boss if I could take an early, long lunch and he looked at me as if I was from another planet! In those days we had a regimented 12:30-1:30 lunch period.  A few years later flexitime was the norm.  Most of my reviews for the BFG were of horror movies as classic titles like Halloween, Friday the 13th, Prom Night and the underrated Happy Birthday To Me were enjoying peak popularity.  My involvement with the Brisbane Film Group was the genesis of my interest in a more analytical approach to the Elvis film canon.

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Elvis in Hollywood: Interview with Paul Simpson

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Hot off the press is the newest book publication by well-known British journalist and author Paul Simpson with the intriguing title Elvis Films FAQ: All That’s Left To Know About the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Hollywood.

Simpson (*1961), who works as editor of Champions Matchday, The official magazine of the UEFA Champions League, has already published a number of books on topics closely related to popular culture such as The Rough Guide to James Bond (2002), The Rough Guide to Cult Fiction (2005), and 397 Ways To Pick A DVD (2009).

Elvis Films FAQ: Journalist and book author Paul Simpson – photo: Paul Simpson

Elvis Films FAQ is Simpson’s second book on the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll after the well-received The Rough Guide to Elvis (2005) – The Memphis Flash talked with Paul Simpson about Elvis Presley’s movie career and the new book → Elvis Films FAQ.

zur deutschen Fassung des Interviews mit Paul Simpson

INTERVIEW

The Memphis Flash: Paul, as a professional writer and longtime Elvis fan what made you dedicate a book with 400 pages to Elvis’ movies? Although initially successful at the box office, they today are mostly not well-regarded by fans, critics and Elvis biographers (Peter Guralnick) alike. Some even say the movies are the low point of Elvis Presley’s career. Frankly, is there really a point for such a book – and why?

Paul Simpson: The point is the movies were important to him – and as a fan and someone trying to understand his life and career I felt they were worth exploring. They did produce some great music, memorable scenes and helped him become such a global icon. Many of the movies are worth exploring on their own merits – the twin peaks being King Creole and Flaming Star – and the process which created them sheds a lot of light on how Presley’s career was run.

Flaming Star 1960: Elvis Presley with Barbara Eden and Steve Forrest

Flaming Star 1960: Elvis Presley as Half-Indian Pacer with co-stars Barbara Eden and Steve Forrest

Also, this is one aspect of his working life that is under-explored – Guralnick, in his near definitive biography, can barely wait to gloss over some of the travelogues in the 1960s. I can understand why but if Elvis hadn’t wanted to be the next James Dean or Tony Curtis, we might never have heard of him.

The Memphis Flash: Elvis talked about his big childhood dream in his acceptance speech for the Jaycee award 1971: „When I was a child, ladies and gentlemen, I was a dreamer. […] I saw movies, and I was the hero in the movie...“

Paul Simpson: Right. The image that stays with me now, after the book is published, is Elvis as a child rushing into a cinema in Tupelo with his dad (something the Assembly of God church would not have approved of in the 1930s and 1940s) and marveling at the serials and films, watching Crosby singing Blue Hawaii in Wakiki Wedding and dreaming of a different life for himself and his family. Did that escapism, that permission to dream, keep hope alive in the desperate, dehumanising poverty of his boyhood?

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