A liberated and expressive filmmaker, Baz Luhrmann won't be constrained by a just-the-facts approach — especially when his subject, Elvis Presley, lends itself to showmanship. Elvis is loaded with so many unbelievable moments that we kept a list as we were watching. Consider us surprised to discover that most of them were true: the strangest turns of an outsized life.
Though Elvis Presley singing to a basset hound in a top hat seems too ridiculous to be true, it actually happened. After a provocative hip-swiveling performance on The Milton Berle Show, Presley was instructed not to move when appearing on The Steve Allen Show where the host introduced him as the “new Elvis,” just as Colonel Parker dubs him in the film. Presley gamely tries to sing “Hound Dog” to the pup on a pedestal, and he really did return to Memphis afterwards and announce at his next concert: “You know, those people in New York are not gonna change me none — I'm gonna show you what the real Elvis is like tonight.”
While it's true that Presley's blatantly sexual performance style stoked prurient panic, earned him the absurd nickname “Elvis the Pelvis”, and caused him to be flagged to the FBI as a potential security threat, a concert in Elvis condenses several instances in Presley's career. Among the moments combined into one scene are a Jacksonville, FL, concert where he wiggled his pinky in mockery of a judge's order to tone down his moves, and a 1957 Los Angeles concert where the vice squad filmed him to ensure he wasn't gyrating too much. Presley was arrested twice in life (once for speeding), but never for his supposedly “dangerous” thrusting.