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The Commercial Appeal, June 2022

Directed by Baz Luhrmann, Australia's auteur of extravagance, the new biographical motion picture "Elvis" opens in theaters nationwide on June 24.

Warner Bros. hopes the rock-and-roll epic, which reportedly cost upwards of $150 million to make and market, will demonstrate that moviegoers are eager to experience big-screen razzle-dazzle that is not dependent on comic-book superheroes or Tom Cruise in a cockpit.

General audiences hope to be entertained and perhaps enlightened.

But in Elvis' adopted hometown of Memphis, we, perhaps hope for more — we want to see Memphis, or at least an Australian recreation thereof.

In that regard, "Elvis" doesn't disappoint. As one might expect, the movie is loaded with Memphis moments and references, in much the way an Elvis jumpsuit is loaded with semi-precious gemstones and metals. Some moments are relatively insignificant (a prop edition of the no longer extant evening newspaper, the Memphis Press-Scimitar); some are heavy indeed (Walter Cronkite's voice, delivering news of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)

We could list many such Memphis allusions. But here is a manageable list: Here are 10 Memphis moments, references or things to look for in "Elvis."

The King's first 'Crown,' on Beale Street

The Memphis references pile up like layers of a Dagwood sandwich during one early scene in "Elvis," when the future King of Rock 'n' Roll (Austin Butler) drives onto Beale Street in his Crown Electric truck, wearing his Crown Electric uniform, and parks under a faithfully recreated "Club Handy" neon sign. Beale remains a key location; it's where Elvis encounters such influences as "Big Mama" Thornton (Shonka Dukureh), Little Richard (Alton Mason), Sister Rosetta Tharpe (Yola) and B.B. King (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), who is introduced shopping for flamboyant outfits at Lansky Brothers, the haberdashery that would bill itself as "Clothier to the King." As "Colonel" Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) says in the film: "He was crazy for all Beale Street music. He had Beale Street stars in his eyes."


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