Who killed Elvis? Was it the drugs? The hamburgers and soft drinks? Or could it have been Colonel Tom Parker? Baz Luhrmann’s film explores the life and music of Elvis Aaron Presley and his toxic relationship Colonel Tom Parker. The meteoric rise and tragic fall of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll with Austin Butler (once upon a time in Hollywood) as Presley with The Colonel played by Tom Hanks.
We first meets Elvis as a young boy living in a poor working class area of northern Memphis, a area which was predominately Black families lived, exposing him to many things that would shape his musical inspirations. Hypnotised by the Gospel/revival music, always wearing a flash logo after his favourite comic book character and we see him enter a tent which Gospel church service which something spiritual connects with him like a superheroes gaining his superpowers, his moves, the King has risen, possibly a metaphor like Jesus or some religious God.
Meanwhile Colonel Tom Parker, we learn a little about him. A carnival Worker, someone who could talk the talk, walk the walk. He had the gift of the gab, the persona to persuade to follow him and what he preaches is the only word. After years as a carnie he wanted to step into music promotion starting first with Country Western act Hank Snow, whose son bought a new 7’ vinyl ‘Alright Mama’ by Elvis Presley, played it it front of his dad and the colonel exposing the colonel to Elvis Presley who just happened to be playing a show at Hank’s son show.
We meet Elvis, nervous, sick, wearing a pink suit. He’s slated by the audience before transforming into the superhero wiggling his hips in his iconic dance moves, girls screaming, hearts broke. He eventually out plays Hank Snow who pushes Elvis off his tour and The Colonel seizes his chance as he sees $$$ and a chance to follow his dream of becoming the greatest and finds that ‘lost’ Elvis., We do get to see what inspired Elvis with Beale Street a big inspiration in his sounds with The Dandy Bar and also the place to buy his clothes.
Elvis is not a film about the music or even the King himself. It’s all about that relationship with Tom Parker whom many called his manager, when he was actually his promoter. The manager it was Elvis father (played by Richard Roxburgh) someone who The Colonel was able to manipulate.
Throughout the film we do get little snippets that Colonel Tom Parker, isn’t all he says he is. Is he truly American or even a Colonel. Elvis is warned by many including his great friend Ben E King who says his deal is too good to be true and when Elvis gets close to escaping , The Colonel is able to drag him when his own lifestyle /demons (gambling) is threatened or set to be exposed.
You could say without Colonel Tom Parker there would be no Elvis Presley which you could say is actually true. Whilst he was very conservative in his ways, even racist, sexist, moves such as taking Elvis off television when the establishment was against him. Then sending him to do Army service and bringing him back making him a rich prospect. If you want to see him, you have to pay.
Austin Butler was a fairly unknown young actor on the big screen was a risky move but one that worked. Butler is exhilarating, tenacious, captures his moves, even looks good enough to believe he is Elvis. Tom Hanks is fantastic as ever, delivering a persona Jekyll and Hyde person who had the talk when deep down a narcissistic but does enough not to label himself as the villain.
Biopic, Drama | 2022 | 12 | 19th September 2022 (UK) | Blu-ray, DVD | Warner Bros Pictures | Dir: Baz Lurhmann | Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge, Yola, Luke Bracey, Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh, David Wenham
Originally posted at The Peoples Movies 19th September 2022 | Original Review Link