Love Me Tender (1956) Movie Review: How Did Elvis Fare in His Debut Movie?

Drinking Game

Take a Drink: each time Elvis and Debra Paget make eye contact

Take a Drink: whenever you see Elvis wield his guitar

Do a shot: each time Elvis swings his hips while singing

Community Review


Movie Review

By: Fangirl Attacks (Four Beers) –

Love Me Tender was a film set in Texas following the American Civil War. It was Elvis’ first film, which co-starred Richard Egan and Debra Paget. It was originally titled The Reno Brothers but the movie was later changed to Love Me Tender in order to capitalize on Elvis’ image and his hit song of the same name.

Love Me Tender is about the rivalry of brothers Vance (Richard Egan) and Clint Reno (Elvis Presley). During the Civil War, the Reno family was mistakenly informed that Vance was killed in action. After four years of war, Vance returns home and finds that his girlfriend, Cathy (Debra Paget), has married Clint. Although Vance tries to accept this, volatility almost always erupts because of the unresolved passion that both Vance and Cathy carry for each other.

A Toast

As we all know, Elvis was better known for his singing exploits and with it being his first movie, studio Twentieth Century Fox wasn’t exactly sure how to market the King of Rock and Roll on the silver screen. As such, the company decided to feature Elvis in a couple of different ways onscreen, which he nailed. In Love Me Tender, he was a tough Confederate soldier as well as a guitar-wielding Casanova, appealing to many relevant topics at the time of the release. He sang four of his hit songs in the film, including “Poor Boy”, “Let Me”, and “We Gonna Move”, as well as the title song.

Beer Two

Despite claims from die-hard fans that Elvis played the lead role in the movie, it was pretty obvious that he only played a supporting role. Proof of this is that Elvis doesn’t actually appear until about half an hour into the film. The posters of the film were very misleading, as the biggest picture on every promotional material belongs to, you’ve guessed it, Elvis.

Love Me Tender movie ad from November 28, 1956 Wichita Beacon.

Beer Three

In a setting as serious as the aftermath of war, you’d expect to see a mix of joyful reunions and drama, which the movie did a good job of portraying. That being said, it was still awkward to see Elvis do his signature hip dance, which he expertly performed at the Reno family ranch house. The Civil War happened in the 1860s, and characters from that time sure weren’t ready for Elvis’ legendary hip move (AKA the lady killer), which was so 1950s. It felt out of place, and it wasn’t a sight to see in an early America setting.

Beer Four

Another hiccup in the movie was the fact that Elvis’ voice stood out among the rest of the cast – displaying a different accent from his peers. His lines were often high-pitched and raucous, which would’ve been fine if he was singing. If he was performing in an area as huge as Planet Hollywood, which offers a “striking mix of Hollywood’s greatest features and Las Vegas entertainment,” his high-pitched voice would’ve been necessary. If he was on a music tour promoting Love Me Tender, or being interviewed by a news channel, his pitch-perfect tone wouldn’t have mattered. However, Love Me Tender was a film about war, bitterness, and rivalry so it would’ve been better if Elvis used a low-pitched timbre for his character.



It may not be the best movie about the aftermath of the American Civil War, but its take on sibling rivalry, as well as the fact that the King of Rock and Roll did a decent job in his first ever movie, makes Love Me Tender worth checking out. Despite being wet behind the ears during that time, Elvis was credited greatly for his enthusiasm. In a review given by Variety, it was mentioned that “Eagen is properly stoic as the older brother, while Miss Paget does nothing more than look pretty and wistful throughout. Mildred Dunnock gets sincerity into the part of mother of the brood, an achievement. Nobody, however, seems to be having as much fun as Presley.”


About MovieBoozer Staff

International Network of Volunteers, Movie Buffs, and Lushes. Movieboozer is a humor website and drinking games are intended for entertainment purposes only, please drink responsibly.

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