The King never looked better. Relive Elvis Presley’s handsome days on set for his first starring role: 1957’s box office smash, “Loving You.”
“Elvis Presley,” the album, was the first Rock ‘N’ Roll album to top the charts,” his estate posted to their official Instagram Monday. While their caption focuses on his self-titled, landmark album, the shot itself comes from his days filming his early Technicolor hit, ‘Loving You.”
In 1957, Elvis was still sharpening his acting chops. Following his successful supporting debut in 1956’s “Love Me Tender,” everything would change with “Loving You.” Within, Presley plays Jimmy Tompkins. A wildly-talented deliveryman just waiting to be discovered, Tompkins’ talent receives notice from a prominent band manager, becoming Country-Western “sensation” Deke Rivers.
“Loving You” was the beginning of an incredibly lucrative seven-film streak for Elvis Presley with Paramount. For the film, the King would dye his hair black, marking the beginning of his trademark deep raven hair.
Elvis Presley Films in VistaVision for ‘Loving You’
The phenomenon that was (and is) “The King” factored heavily into the musical format’s success. Prior to co-writing and directing the film, director Hal Kanter spent time in Memphis getting to know Elvis. There, Presley and his infamous entourage led Kanter to his performance on the country television program, “Louisiana Hayride.”
It was here that Kanter would witness Presley’s hold over fans firsthand. This, alongside Colonel Tom Parker’s brilliant wrangling of all aspects, would inspire Kanter’s direction for the story. As with his previous, co-starring hit “Love Me Tender,” Elvis’ prominence led to the film’s headlining song becoming the title.
According to film trade Shot on What, “Loving You” was brought to life via Technicolor and VistaVision, with production beginning in January of 1957. Elvis’ parents, Gladys and Vernon Presley, would even appear in the film’s final scene.
The in-color-triumph premiered in Memphis on July 10 of that year at the Strand Theater. Due to fans’ penchant for mobbing The King, Elvis would opt out of this premiere. Instead, he took his then-girlfriend Anita Wood, alongside his parents, to their own private midnight screening.
America, however, would see “Loving You” for themselves once the film hit nationally on July 30, 1957. Premiering at #7, the musical would continue to top the charts for four weeks. Its coinciding “Loving You” soundtrack, which was Elvis Presley’s first soundtrack release, would do the same.