King of the Road: Five Great Elvis Travel Movies

Lists: Eva Holland and Eli Ellison go traveling with The King on his 75th birthday.

01.08.10 | 12:07 PM ET

Still from “Blue Hawaii”

Today would’ve been Elvis Presley’s 75th birthday. The King didn’t record many travel tunes—not a single E.P. track made World Hum’s list of the top 40 travel songs. But during his 14-year detour through Hollywood, Big E cranked out a lot of travel flicks. Place was a key ingredient in the “Elvis movie” formula: Elvis sings a dozen songs, chases skirts and rumbles with baddies, all in a picture postcard locale.

We know what you’re thinking: “Yeah, but Elvis movies are hokey and horrible!” Yes, they are. But they can also be cheesy-good fun. To celebrate The King’s birthday, we curled up on the couch, curled our lips, and went on vacation with Elvis. Here, in chronological order, are five Presley travel flicks that didn’t make us want to open fire on our TV sets.

King Creole (1958)

A Trip Fit for The King: Young Elvis plays Danny Fisher, Bourbon Street bus boy and two-time high school flunk-out. When his talent for singing is uncovered by Maxie Fields, a shady mobster and nightclub kingpin played by Walter Matthau, Danny finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into the violence and dirty dealings of the French Quarter in 1950s New Orleans.

Love Me Tender: Danny’s affections are split between goodie-two-shoes waitress Nellie and hard-living party girl Ronnie, one of Maxie’s prize possessions. If you wanted to get philosophical, you might say the two leading ladies are representative of The King’s own struggle to choose between a clean life and Maxie’s way.

Best Song: It’s gotta be Trouble, the first song Danny sings when Maxie forces him up on stage to humiliate him.

Worst Song: There’s not much to hate about the tunes in this flick—you can’t really go wrong with a NOLA brass band backing up nearly every track—but the sight of Elvis crooning Lover Doll to a five-and-dime full of women as part of an elaborate heist scheme warrants a guffaw or two.

Does Elvis Leave The Building? There’s no way to fake it—“King Creole” was shot on the irreplaceable streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans. Fans of the Crescent City will recognize a neighborhood that seems virtually unchanged in the five decades since the movie was filmed.

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Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

Eli Ellison

2 Comments for King of the Road: Five Great Elvis Travel Movies

Matt 02.01.10 | 4:56 PM ET

Surely you forgot the most important Elvis travel movie of all!

Eli 02.05.10 | 2:15 AM ET

Elvis battles Royal Mounties and Hustler magazine? Sounds like a winner to me. Thank for the tip, Matt.

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