I Hope They Consulted Fat Elvis

I haven’t watched many of these, and almost always prefer footage of the original artists to their biopics. From Vince Mancini’s The Academy Can’t Quit Biopics, Even When They’re Bad:

Biopics now seem to exist somewhere outside of movies, belonging more to public relations; flashy advertisements for their stars and validations of their subjects’ legacies. Missing is the expectation that we’re actually going to gain any insight about their subjects… So it is we’ve gotten decidedly un-illuminating, subject-friendly portrayals such as Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman.

11 Replies to “I Hope They Consulted Fat Elvis”

  1. Agree on biopics. The concert recreations in Bohemian Raphsody were well-done, but it hardly matters when you can see the real thing on YouTube. And the inevitable sacrifice of facts to narrative didn’t bug me; it’s just that the narrative was so creaky and predictable. I didn’t bother with Rocket Man.

    A little while ago an article title popped up in my Google feed: “Brian May Says Beatles Need a Biopic Like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.” No they don’t.

    Back in the 80’s there was a hilariously bad, entirely fictional TV movie about teenage Elvis. They made him into a badass, and they’d work song titles into the script, as in “hey, you look all shook up!” Just dreadful.

  2. Get Back is a hundred times better than Beatles Bohemian Rhapsody would be.

    I had to go find your Elvis movie, because of course I did. Not sure if this was it, but I encountered Heartbreak Hotel, which looks like it had a theatrical release, and whose plot revolves around kidnapping Elvis. It’s by the guy who wrote Goonies and Gremlins. Critics were unimpressed.

    “With such fruity writing, what do overacting and miscasting
    (Jay Leno would have been perfect) matter? Playing Elvis is like playing a Kennedy, nearly impossible.”

    See what you think:

    Heartbreak Hotel – actors performance

    Heartbreak Hotel – actual latter-day Elvis performance

  3. I wanted them to do a Get Back doc on me making Moody Blue, but we can’t find the footage, so I said just make me look cool and don’t put in any of the teenage girl stuff (except for the marrying Priscilla, obviously, but not about how I didn’t want to touch her after she had a baby) or show me dying on the crapper. Or next to it anyway.

    There was a 70s movie with Kurt Russel that was passable. I think it was just called Elvis. Are there any half-decent music biopics? I remember liking the Buddy Holly Story with Busey. La Bamba was pretty awful. I hated the Doors movie, but I can’t stand anything Oliver Stone makes. Control about Ian Curtis was pretty fantastic. Sid and Nancy had some fun moments but was otherwise a bit cringy. Patsy Cline pic was ok. The stuff they do now is tripe, though.

    Fuck that Queen movie.

    Thank you. Thank you very much.

  4. Legend has it they wanted Elvis to play Hank Williams in Your Cheating Heart, but Audrey nixed it and George Hamilton played him instead.

  5. Yeah, you usuallly have to go back pretty far for decent biopics. I think the most recent biopic I thought was OK was the Johnny Cash one, but it wasn’t exactly great. I enjoyed Your Cheating Heart and The Buddy Holly Story, but I was pretty young when I saw those. Skipped The Doors because I’d read a comment by Ray Manzarek that it was just Oliver Stone’s jerk-off fantasy about JM. I wasn’t aware there was an Ian Curtis one; thanks for putting it on my radar.

    Walk Hard did a good job mocking biopics.

    Heartbreak Hotel is not the TV movie I saw. I can’t find any mention of the one I saw online. I’ve tried to contact an old friend I remember watching it with, but I haven’t heard back. I think it was a pilot for a proposed TV series about teenage Elvis that was quickly cancelled because it sucked so bad. Perhaps a mini-series?

  6. Maybe Elvis – The Early Years was what you saw?

    I thought The Buddy Holly Story was great and can’t remember any of The Doors. I haven’t seen Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman, Walk the Line, Ray, or even Coal Miner’s Daughter. Apparently there’s a Kinks biopic, in “development” for about seven years now. It’s by the same guy who did The Filth and the Fury.

    I enjoyed the musical icon-adjacent productions Sweet and Lowdown and Backbeat, come to think of it. And I bet I would like Love and Mercy, but keep forgetting to watch it.

    I’m confident that the Who, Stones, and Zeppelin biopics that will no doubt someday arrive will all be abominable.

    1. That’s probably it. It doesn’t look as stupid as I remember, but there’s a reason. Here’s our good friend Wikipedia:

      Elvis (also known as Elvis – Good Rockin’ Tonight) is an American drama series about the early life of Elvis Presley that aired on ABC from February 6 until May 19, 1990 before its cancellation due to low ratings. These ten episodes, along with three unaired episodes, were edited into a four-hour mini-series titled Elvis: The Early Years.

      So, what I saw was one or more of the original ten episodes of Elvis – Good Rockin’ Tonight. Many scenes would have been cut in the transition to the four hour mini-series, renamed Elvis: The Early Years.

      Thanks, I think we done solved this heah misstree.

      I’m about as eager for a Kinks biopic as I am for a Beatles one. The more I like a band, the more I want it left alone.

  7. Coal Miner’s Daughter was really good. Love and Mercy was better than I thought it would be, but still not that good. Certainly not insulting like the Queen movie. The Ray Charles one was really good, and Uma Thurman’s ex husband made a really sweet film about Blaze Foley (Blaze) a few years ago that I enjoyed.

    I’m Not There where they used multiple actors to do some kind of thing sort of about Dylan who’s not actually Dylan was a mess that had some glorious moments and was way better in the theater than in a repeated viewing at home. Soundtrack is nice if you like other people doing Dylan better than you like Dylan doing Dylan (whatever).

  8. Also, Walk Hard is such a sleeper. Maybe not as straight up funny or as quotable as Spinal Tap, but still hilarious and dead on in so many ways. It may have kind of killed music bios and spawned the broadway musicals on film they are today. Fuck that Queen movie, man.

  9. Yeah, for some reason Walk Hard never got much attention, but it was very funny.

    I liked the 60’s parts of Love and Mercy, especially the depictions of BW working with the Wrecking Crew. They did their research, and this nerd was pleased. Mike Love comes off like a twit, so they checked that box too. I didn’t care one bit about the 70’s parts or the predictable “saved by the love of a woman” theme. But it’s worth watcing for the studio bits.

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