My Night With Elvis: Paradise, Drive-In Style

The Tender Continuation From My Night With Elvis: Kitten With a Dip, My Night With Elvis: Clamfake? and My Night With Elvis: Swallow That Dream

ATLANTA, GA -- At dusk, the sky dimmed so we could watch the line-up promised for Elvis Presley Mondo Movie Night at the drive-in theatre.

The flickering images began with a color cartoon, followed by a reel of ancient "previews of coming attractions," mostly from those prehistoric times known to historians as the 1970s. The sights included the deadly evil, "The Abominable Dr. Phibes," and the deadly Evel, "Viva Knievel."

The most shocking trailer was for an obscure 1967 documentary, "Mondo Teeno," also known as "Teenage Rebellion." Promising to reveal "the truth about 'The Now Generation,'" we saw wild youth from around the planet making out, taking drugs, and drinking big people beverages.

The trailer from Mondo Teeno warned about The Now Generation and turtleneck dickies.Some of the juveniles dared to wear garish clothes and dance to canned music so heinous that it lives on today inside the telephone company's "Your Call Is Important to Us" holding hell.

Since I endured high school throughout that frenetic era, I, too, am a member of "The Now Generation." Sworn to secrecy for decades, I can finally reveal I was on probation through the whole experience. I was a disciplinary problem for the Hoodlums in Charge. I didn't drink. I didn't make out. And the closest I came to drugs was broccoli.

When I was really tripping, I ate my weight in hollandaise sauce.

Mmm, that would've been a perfect delicacy on this evening, however I postponed my forage at the refreshment center for mustard and mayonnaise. The MGM lion roared across the screen. It was Elvis time!

I could tell. The lion had sideburns.

The title sequence of Viva Las Vegas. Ann-Margret is off camera, warming up those hips.As the classic "Viva Las Vegas" theme echoed throughout the terrain, Donna revived her Ann-Margret moves, metamorphosing into Rusty Martin, the role of the actress.

Stan assumed the persona of Young Elvis Contemplating a Doze in a Lawn Chair on an Asphalt Slab (which was also the working title of "Tickle Me").

And I, a versatile man and champion of supporting casts, slipped out of my pre-show Presley garb to transform into the dashing villain of the moment, Count Elmo Mancini. I looked exactly like actor Cesare Danova with my auto mechanic grease monkey coveralls unzipped to the waist, swarthy chest and tummy hairs glistening in the moonlight. I felt, oh, so very debonair and third-billed. I folded my tuxedo and ascot over the van bumper for later.

"Viva Las Vegas" was Elvis Presley's most financially popular film during its original release, earning somewhat less than $5,000,000. Ironically, I'm earning somewhat less than $5,000,000 for this article, which, when you consider inflation and I do my own stunts, that's not so impressive.

"Grrrrr," I grrrrred to the crowd with a phony Italian accent. I was Count Elmo.

I grabbed the cocktail shaker and administered rapid conga line wrist actions.

Although I've seen this picture on TV, two things became noticeable with the enlarged projection.

1. There are no fistfights, a rarity for Elvis. He usually maims someone into the hospital before "Directed by Norman Taurog."

2. There has never been anything in the annals of cinema to out hot-to-trot Ann-Margret in "Viva Las Vegas." She is a vision of horniness.

And I say that in only the nicest way and a quart of perspiration. Thank goodness, the cocktail shaker was empty.

The title card for Jailhouse Rock, the second stop of the Mayflower.At Intermission, I gave myself a full body squeegee, raking off the Rusty water. Then, it was a quick limbo under the hot air hands dryer in the men's room. I was completely refurbished for "Jailhouse Rock" -- and pleasingly fluffy.

This time around, Elvis kills a throwaway character with his bare hands and sneer. Attaboy, Elvis!

He goes to prison, where he faces a sentence of one-to-two production numbers.

During this film, I fashioned myself into stocky Mickey Shaughnessy, who plays the country and western singer, Hunk Houghton. I wore an enormous cowboy hat and sequin suit that wouldn't quit as I ambled through the car lot, serenading the remarkably silent onlookers with a guitar I couldn't play, just like Hunk.

Nothing but smoldering cigarette embers could be seen inside their darkness. Kinda creepy at 12:30 in the morning.

When Dean "The Love Bug" Jones appeared opposite Elvis, I became him, sneaking up to Volkswagens to whisper, "Pssst, is that you, Herbie? Need a lube job, Herbie? Would ya like a buff polish?"

The people over at the next field watching "Alien vs. Predator" were visibly shaken.

After the double feature, we packed our belongings and aimed for the exit.

"Did you enjoy yourself, husband?" Donna asked.

"Uhh huh, that I did, Baby, baby."

"Swell, because tomorrow you go on a diet."

"Now, I-- I-- I--" I stammered, like Flustered Elvis.

Oh, what was the use of arguing? Col. Parker had spoken.

Quietly, I placed my palms above my navel on 50 pounds of hunka hunka ambience, as we spun out onto the speedway home.

Rewind: My Night With Elvis: Kitten With a Dip | My Night With Elvis: Clamfake? | My Night With Elvis: Swallow That Dream
Photos copyright ©2004 Mike Durrett. All rights reserved.

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