The movie “Elvis & Nixon,” starring Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey, opens today (at least it does here in Gainesville. The film is about a bizarre 1970 incident in which Elvis Presley arranged a meeting and went to the White House to tell Richard Nixon how he could help fight drugs and communism.
Right around that time, Elvis had another weird idea – he wanted to play the lead character in a film adaptation of Harry Crews’ first novel, “The Gospel Singer.” Since Elvis on screen to that point had mainly consisted of lip synching, gyrating and reading off cue cards, playing the alienated, sexually obsessed singer at the center of Harry’s novel would have been quite a leap. Elvis’s manager and life coach, Colonel Tom Parker, thought better of the idea and squelched it immediately. So Elvis passed the rights to “The Gospel Singer” on to another Vegas staple, Tom Jones. Jones got further with the project – a script was written, a film schedule was made – but alas, like most of the movie projects based on Crews novels, it all went down the drain before cameras rolled.
Too bad, Elvis would have made an interesting Gospel Singer. Well, maybe “interesting” isn’t the right word.