Strong Performances Power Elvis

Tom Hanks made me hate him. Well, Colonel Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks, caused me to

dislike the once carnival barker. The performance expanded the scope of Parker’s history and

motivation. Hanks was able to express how the cogs moved in the Colonel’s head. The movie is

about Elvis, but his start would not have happened without Colonel Tom Parker.

Elvis (Austin Butler) had done some recordings at Sun Records. “That’s Alright”, written by

Arthur Crudup (who Elvis heard playing the song as a child), was recorded and distributed to

local record stations by Sam Phillips. The ascent of Presley’s career began when his first

release hit the local charts. Austin Butler embodied Elvis, the movie was endorsed by Priscilla

Presley and Lisa Marie. As a fan of Elvis, I recall being a wee child watching his live from Hawaii

telecast in 1973.


The Colonel made a lot of decisions for Elvis, never allowing him to take a step without his

approval. Early on, Presley would defer to Parker, because all Elvis wanted to do was perform

his way and get attention. At that time, all the Colonel had to do was get him booked. When

Elvis began to develop notoriety from his performances, it was decided that the military would

train the devil out of him. He had already started his movie career, then he returned to more

filming once he fulfilled the requirement.


Elvis was beautifully filmed and fantastically written by Baz Luhrman. He and his co-writers:

Craig Pierce (Strictly Ballroom, Gatsby) and Sam Bromell (Gatsby), created a script that gave us

great detail into the relationship between the Colonel and Elvis. The co-dependency and

manipulation by Parker towards Presley became absolutely insipid in its malignancy. Hanks and

Butler gave exceptionally moving performances.


Baz Luhrman did a lot of research into Elvis. He went to Tupelo and found a childhood friend

that recounted the events that start the film. We know the public stories of Elvis Presley. A lot of

it is PR, this film takes us deeper into his history, and his impressions of the times he lived being a

man of the south in the times of civil rights. This film does acknowledge the changes in America

and Presley’s histories.


Austin Butler sang the early Elvis songs while his voice was spliced with the older Elvis

performances to enhance the timbre of the voice. Butler was so good in the role that it was

seamless when his performances melded into Elvis on stage during his shows at the

International in Las Vegas. Luhrman created an intensely beautiful and emotional biographical

film with Hanks playing a man that is always out for himself and Butler who inhabits “The King”. I

encourage all to see it.


5 stars out of 5