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Laramie Movie Scope: Priscilla

Living in the Elvis Presley circus

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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November 15, 2023 – Based on Priscilla Presley's 1985 book, “Elvis and Me” this biographical drama follows the turbulent life of Priscilla Ann Wagner (played by Cailee Spaeny of “On the Basis of Sex”) from 1959, when she first met Elvis (played by Jacob Elordi of “The Kissing Booth”) to 1972, when she separated from him. Priscilla Presley is executive producer of this film as well.

Although this part of Priscilla's life is what made her famous, I don't think it is the most interesting part of life, which happens after her divorce from Elvis. After the separation, Priscilla escaped from the corrosive influence of Elvis and became a very successful businesswoman. Unfortunately, that is not what this movie is about.

This movie is about the 14-year-old Elvis fan who met Elvis in Germany in 1959. Immediately thereafter she is increasingly drawn into Elvis' inner circle. Even though Elvis was still in the U.S. Army in 1959, he was still the biggest entertainer in the world, surrounded by a loyal gang of friends and family that would do anything for him.

Elvis is a charming fellow with good manners, and tons of money, which somehow enables him to spirit away the underage Priscilla from her parents. She comes to live with him in Graceland, long before they are married. Although Priscilla is willing, with the raging hormones of a teenager, she and Elvis apparently do not have sex until after they are married, in 1967.

Elvis and his father, Vernon (played by Tim Post of “My Salinger Year”) are the lords of Graceland, dictating Priscilla's every move. Elvis tells Priscilla what clothes to wear and makes her change her hair color and style to suit his own tastes. Her hair style becomes increasingly big and cheesy as time goes by.

) Some of the more famous Graceland escapades are shown in the movie, like wild July 4 celebrations with people shooting at each other with roman candles, Elvis destroying a building with a bulldozer, lots of guns and shooting on the property, and Elvis' fascination with guns and karate.

Things get even crazier during the period Elvis is a fixture in Las Vegas as he descends into drug addiction. Priscilla is also caught up in drug addiction during her time with Elvis. As Elvis descends into the neon drugged out world of Las Vegas fame, he and Priscilla grow more distant. Their relationship becomes increasingly toxic.

The Mutt and Jeff look of Elvis and Priscilla is very striking in this film. Cailee Spaeny is short, being an inch under five feet tall while Jacob Elordi is very tall, at six feet, five inches. The real Priscilla is five foot three and the real Elvis was about six feet, even, so the difference in their heights in real life was about nine inches. In this movie, the difference between their characters is double that, 18 inches.

In this movie, directed by the capable Sofia Coppola (who also co-wrote the screenplay) Priscilla is played as a victim, albeit a partially willing one. She marries Elvis knowing that she will have to share him with the rest of the world. It turns out there is not enough of him left for her at the end, and she can no longer hold onto their marriage. She has to let go.

This is a sad tale without a hero or a villain, except maybe for Elvis' mysterious manager, Colonel Tom Parker, who might be a villain. He is always lurking about, controlling Elvis, but he never appears on screen.

The star of this movie is Cailee Spaeny who has all the best lines and scenes. She overshadows Jacob Elordi, who gives a good performance as the enigmatic, manipulative, overwhelmed, conflicted superstar who seems increasingly unhappy and out of his depth. The movie ends abruptly, and the story ends before the most interesting part of Priscilla's life even begins, which leaves me less than satisfied. This movie rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2023 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]