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Fastening his seat belt

Posted by Mark Feeney  February 9, 2012 09:59 AM

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viva-las-vegas-ann-marget-elvis-presley.jpgMany and all too various are the artistic sins that can be laid at the door of Hollywood. Not least among them is how gruesomely it misused the talents of Elvis Aron Presley. Thirty-one feature films, and all of them awful. All right, a few are somewhat less awful. "Viva Las Vegas" (left) beside having the best Elvis-movie title song (thank you, Doc Pomus), isn't all that bad; there's a definite combustible chemistry between Elvis and Ann-Margret. Usually, he sleepwalks through these movies, and who can blame him? Here his costar keeps him very wide awake. "King Creole" had Michael Curtiz for its director, and Don Siegel (who thought Elvis showed real promise as an actor) directed "Flaming Star."

Elvis is in the news (not that he's ever really out of the news) because a gentleman in West Horsham, England, named Paul Turner has started an online petition drive to have Memphis International Airport renamed Elvis Presley International Airport.

Statue_of_John_Wayne_at_SNA.jpgNow, there's a goofy idea, you may say. Well, it's certainly not as goofy as having his mother played by Angela Lansbury, in "Blue Hawaii" ("The Hawaiian Candidate"!) or his falling in love with Mary Tyler Moore, as a nun in mufti, no less, in "A Change of Habit." And not only is there rock 'n' roll precedent for renaming an airport but movie precedent, too

Liverpool Airport became Liverpool John Lennon Airport in 2002 (at which time it also acquired the slogan "Above Us Only Sky"). And Orange County Airport, 35 miles southeast of Los Angeles, became John Wayne Airport in 1979. A bronze statue of the Duke (above left) greets arriving passengers.

Renaming the Memphis airport would bring with it a dilemma for Elvis Presley Enterprises. As anyone who's driven by Graceland can't help but notice, Elvis' Convair 880 private jet, the Lisa Marie, is parked on the other side of Union Avenue, where it's open to visitors (though you have to pay more, for the Platinum Tour). Does the plane stay or go to a newly renamed airport?


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Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.

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