Movie: Elvis & Nixon
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)
Review: The King was not happy. The King of course being Elvis Presley (Michael Shannon), sat in his Graceland throne room and watched the news ever day on his four TV sets, which was dominated by civil unrest and rising crime rates. Elvis knew the country was in a desperate situation, and he knew that he must step up and do something about it. But first, he needed a trusted confidant, so Elvis headed to Los Angeles to enlist the aid of his long time friend Jerry (Alex Pettyfer) to help him with his mission.
On to Washington DC to meet with President Richard Nixon (Kevin Spacey). Elvis is confident that when he meets with President Nixon and hears his plan on how to start turning the tide on the drug problem that was ruining the country, that Nixon would give him his full support. When Elvis shows up unannounced at the White House gate, he finds it more difficult than he thought to gain access to the president. Nixon aide Bud Krogh (Colin Hanks) sees a meeting between Elvis and Nixon as a publicity coup; however, grumpy chief of staff HR Haldeman (Tate Donovan) dismisses the request out of hand. When Nixon hears of the plan to bring Elvis in for a visit, he too wants nothing to do with it. And yet, on December 21, 1970, Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon have a historic meeting in the oval office. How that meeting came to pass, and the surprising conversation they had, is a tale worth hearing.
This is one of those “small films” that is getting lost in the summer blockbuster stampede, and that is a real shame. Not only is the acting first rate, but the real life events are so compelling that you will be captivated by what happened between the two famous men. Michael Shannon may not be as handsome as the real Elvis, but he is able to find the essence of the international icon, at times surprisingly introspective, who realizes that he is not a real person to the fans who idolize him, but he tries his best to please them. Kevin Spacey is not only a great actor, but a gifted impersonator, and he captures the hunched over and stilted mannerisms of Nixon perfectly, as well as the voice pattern. This is definitely a movie that is worth making the time to go see in the theater.
Dialogue Nuggets: Elvis to Airline Ticket Person – “Confidentially, this is the first time I’ve flown on my own.”
Clueless Elvis Imitator to Elvis in airport lounge – “Elvis would never wear that.”
Elvis to Jerry – “Have you seen the news lately? War, crime, drugs…what kind of man would I be if I didn’t offer to help?”
Bud Krogh to Haldeman – “He could really help us with the youth vote.” Haldeman – “I don’t give a f*ck about the youth vote!”
Elvis – “They never see me. They never see that boy from Tennessee. I don’t even know if I know him anymore. I’m a thing, like a bottle of coke.”
Nixon to Krogh – “And you think I should meet with him? During my nap hour?”
Nixon to Aides – “I’m not bringing some G*d damned rock n roller into the oval office. Maybe he’ll have better luck when some Democrat gets the office.”
Nixon to Elvis – “You and me, we rose from nothing. Look at me now, and look at what you are.”
Nixon – “It’s been an absolute pleasure.” Elvis – “Sayonara.”
Nitnoid Fact – “The picture of Elvis and Nixon in the oval office is the most requested photo from the National Archives.
Minor Disappointment – No Elvis songs in the movie, not even in the closing credits.