***/**** Image A Sound A- Extras B
starring Richard Egan, Debra Paget, Elvis Presley, Robert Middleton
screenplay by Robert Buckner
directed by Robert D. Webb
by Alex Jackson SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT. As far as drugs go, Love Me Tender is more pot than heroin. It won't curl your toes, but you'll get a smooth, mellow buzz. It's sort of the perfect film to watch on a Sunday morning on TCM while you're eating a bowl of Cap'n Crunch. Love Me Tender doesn't have a lot of urgency and it moves pretty slowly, yet there's never a moment in which it's not compulsively watchable--and at just a shade under ninety minutes, it doesn't wear out its welcome. Director Robert D. Webb keeps the camera pretty still and shoots the outdoor scenes in long shot, the better to encapsulate the sheer enormity of the under-settled frontier. All this space lends the film a distinctly melancholy feel; there's something lonely and isolated about the picture. But bittersweet is a flavour, too (a good one), and melancholy is the right attitude for this story and the right attitude for a film titled after Elvis Presley's tragically romantic hit single "Love Me Tender." This was the only film that ever killed off Elvis--and it earns the right to do so.