All 31 of Elvis Presley's movies, ranked from worst to best

15 August 2022, 17:37

Elvis Presley's best films
Elvis Presley's best films. Picture: MGM/Paramount

By Tom Eames

Elvis Presley was one of the world's biggest music stars, but he was also a prolific movie actor.

Elvis Presley had a pretty unique career, as he starred in so many films in such a short period of time, that you could class his films in a genre of their own.

From 1956 to 1969, he starred in 31 films. While they weren't exactly Citizen Kane, they were beloved by his legions of fans, and most are still thoroughly enjoyable today.

Elvis let it be known early on that he hoped to follow in the footsteps of his idols James Dean and Marlon Brando, to become a top dramatic actor.

His debut was in 1956's Love Me Tender, and by the early 1960s he had established a popular formula of romantic musicals.

However, by the end of the decade, Elvis had become bitter that his hopes for dramatic film roles were not working out, and complained about the drop in quality of certain films, as well as his belief that his manager Colonel Tom Parker was more interested in making money than credible movies.

By 1969, he decided to move away from films and concentrated on live performing. He was tipped to star in Grease and A Star is Born at one stage, but he tragically died in 1977, aged 42.

Here are all of his films, ranked in order of greatness:

  1. Stay Away, Joe (1968)

    This one hasn't aged well, mainly due to its portrayal of Native American people and culture, including Elvis in Red Face.

    It revolves around Elvis as Joe Lightcloud, returning to his reservation in the American Southwest as he tries to save his tribe from poverty.

    Saying that, Elvis is charming as ever, but it didn't have any memorable songs.

  2. Clambake (1967)

    This was Elvis Presley's least favourite of his own films.

    The story follows Elvis as Scott, the heir of an oil company, and his hopes of escaping his privileged lifestyle.

    He swaps identities with a ski instructor, and falls in love with a woman in need of money. Not a bad plot, but it's obvious Elvis's heart wasn't in this one.

  3. Kissin' Cousins (1964)

    This film's title makes it sound far dodgier than it actually is, but it's still not one of Elvis's best.

    Directed by Star Trek's Gene Nelson, it's actually about Elvis as two cousins who face off against each other, against the backdrop of the US government building a missile launch facility in the mountains. Not one of the easiest ones to follow!

  4. Tickle Me (1965)

    You've got to love Elvis film titles.

    Elvis plays a cowboy who finds a treasure map with his love interest Pam, and he;s particularly flirty in this one.

    Sadly, it's a relatively generic film that doesn't quite get going.

  5. Harum Scarum (1965)

    For this film, Elvis plays actor Johnny Tyrone, who gets kidnapped in the Middle East, as his adventure movies are taken seriously by his captors, who need someone to assassinate their king. It's all a bit Tropic Thunder.

    It's a romp of a film, even if it's perhaps a bit too silly at times.

  6. Easy Come, Easy Go (1967)

    This film featured a few cameos including Mickey Rooney, and features Elvis as a Navy officer who decides to swim down to a sunken ship to find a fortune of gold.

    He has great chemistry with his opposite number as ever, but it's not one of his best soundtracks (which amazingly didn't feature a ballad, shock horror).

  7. Live A Little, Love A Little (1968)

    This musical rom-com shows the struggles of a working-class photographer called Greg, as he works two jobs, as well as the growing love of a troubled young woman, Bernice.

    Bernice's pursuing of Greg hasn't aged well either, but the film did include the classic Elvis tune 'A Little Less Conversation'.

  8. Fun In Acapulco (1963)

    Here, Elvis plays a suave lifeguard who overcomes his fear of heights.

    Shot on location, it's a relatively generic musical, but Elvis is on fine form. It just needed a better script to elevate it.

  9. It Happened At The World's Fair (1963)

    This musical comedy starred Elvis as crop duster Mike, who loses his plane in a gambling bet gone wrong.

    He travels to Seattle's World Fair in hopes of changing his financial situation, and he helps a child find her uncle, while also finding love with a nurse.

    No classic tunes within, but it at least showed Elvis's ability to deliver a decent dramatic performance.

  10. Double Trouble (1967)

    This was a much-needed lift for Elvis after a series of generic movies. He plays the cheeky Guy Lambert who tries to woo the aristocratic Jill, before finding himself in a British jewel heist.

    It's one of his more fun films of the era, and features one of his best movie soundtracks.

  11. Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966)

    Elvis is particularly up for it in this underrated film. He plays Rick as a flirtatious helicopter pilot looking to start up a business with his pal.

    While it's still pretty simple Elvis film fodder, it does have some surprisingly excellent cinematography, including the aerial shots.

  12. Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962)

    This is another musical comedy which is bound to bring a smile to your face.

    Elvis plays a sailor who finds himself in a love triangle with two opposing women.

    It also featured one of his biggest hits of the 1960s: 'Return to Sender'.

  13. Speedway (1968)

    Elvis stars opposite Nancy Sinatra in this film, as car racer Steve who enters various races to gamble enough money to keep his friend Kenny out of jail.

    Sadly, there's not too much chemistry between the pair, but Elvis puts in one of his most entertaining performances.

  14. Change Of Habit (1969)

    Here is Elvis Presley's final feature film as an actor. He plays a doctor in a poor area, who falls in love with one of the nuns who works for him.

    It is one of Elvis's best dramatic performances, and co-stars TV icon Mary Tyler Moore. Not a bad way for Elvis to bow out.

  15. Charro! (1969)

    Shock one: Elvis with a beard! Shock two: he doesn't sing!

    Elvis attempted to go straight on this film, which is a western trying to copy Clint Eastwood with various action scenes and long scripts.

    While not perfect, it was great to see Elvis going darker than usual and allowed to act without singing for once. If only he was given more of those opportunities.

  16. Spinout (1966)

    Before Speedway, Elvis united racing and rock in this film, while being the object of desire of three women.

    However, Mike refuses to commit to any of them in this comedy, which is a generally likeable film.

  17. Blue Hawaii (1961)

    Perhaps one of Elvis's more famous films, it follows Chadwick from the military, returning to Hawaii after his discharge.

    Here, he meets his love interest when he starts working as a tour guide. It was the first to start off a series of beach-themed musicals, and arguably shows Elvis at the peak of his career.

    Blue Hawaii is second only to the soundtrack of West Side Story as the most successful soundtrack album of the 1960s in the US.

  18. Follow That Dream (1962)

    In this comedy film, Elvis appears alongside a group of orphans and their guardians who aim to build a home on a Florida beach.

    The author of the book didn't want Elvis to be in the film, but changed his mind once he saw how good his performance was as Toby.

  19. Frankie and Johnny (1966)

    For this western comedy, Elvis played a gambler who works at a riverboat casino with his girlfriend.

    When a fortuneteller says he'll get lucky with a red-headed woman, his girlfriend isn't happy. Cue a love triangle.

  20. Girl Happy (1965)

    This film is centred a young woman named Valerie (Shelley Fabares), who is being followed by singer Rusty Wells (Elvis), because her father paid him to look out for her.

    Of course, he falls in love with her, and helps her run away from her father's control.

    It had some great songs in it, including the hit 'Puppet on a String', and one of his best films of the mid-60s.

  21. The Trouble With Girls (1969)

    Towards the end of his film career, Elvis put in a brilliant performance as Walter, a manager of an entertainer group.

    The film takes on subjects like murder and politics, and has gained a cult following over the years.

  22. Roustabout (1964)

    For this film, Charlie (Elvis), is an unemployed singer who runs away to sing for a traveling circus, opposite Barbara Stanwyck.

    It was one of the more successful box office hits of his career, and the soundtrack isn't half bad either.

  23. Wild In The Country (1961)

    This romantic film follows the story of Glenn, a man who needs help after starting a fight with his brother.

    What could have been a brilliant dramatic film for Elvis was somewhat dampened by the placing of musical numbers, but he's still great in it.

  24. Love Me Tender (1956)

    Elvis's film debut was as a supporting star in this romantic drama.

    The film centres around a group of confederate soldiers who decide to rob a Union train.

    It was obviously helped by the title track 'Love Me Tender', and was one of his most memorable films.

  25. Kid Galahad (1962)

    Elvis put in an acclaimed performance in this boxing musical. He starred as Walter, a broke man who takes on the job of a sparring partner to make money.

    Charles Bronson also stars in the film, and while Elvis was perhaps not quite the right actor for the role of a boxer, it is perhaps his greatest dramatic performance.

  26. Flaming Star (1960)

    This drama sees Elvis playing a man named Pacer Burton, who lives on the Texas Frontier with his white father and Kiowa mother.

    Racial tension rises after a group of racists stop Burton's mother from getting medical care, resulting in her death.

    It was just the kind of dramatic role that Elvis was searching for, and he had a great partnership on screen with Steve Forrest as his brother.

  27. Loving You (1957)

    This was Elvis Presley's first major role in a film, and he puts in a great performance as Deke, a working-class man who is discovered by musical talent agents.

    The romcom also features big hits including '(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear' and the title track.

  28. G.I. Blues (1960)

    In this memorable film, Elvis plays Tulsa McLean as a soldier who hopes to open a nightclub after he leaves West Germany.

    Elvis had himself just finished his military career when he starred in the musical, which certainly helped his performance.

    The musical also featured 'Blue Suede Shoes' and 'Wooden Heart', and was a big success.

  29. King Creole (1958)

    Elvis later said that Danny Fisher from King Creole was his favourite character.

    Criminal Danny is struggling but is soon discovered for his musical talents, in what becomes a brilliant musical comedy of the era.

    Walter Matthau and Carolyn Jones also appear in the film, but Elvis does well opposite them in one of his first ever roles.

  30. Jailhouse Rock (1957)

    Perhaps his most iconic film? The musical drama follows Vince Everett's wrongful arrest and prison stay, as he meets a man who says he can be a music star.

    It was arguably the ultimate Elvis film at the peak of his powers, and the set designs and musical numbers are fantastic.

  31. Viva Las Vegas (1964)

    If you're looking for the ultimate Elvis Presley movie experience, look no further.

    The musical stars Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret, and the two are excellent opposite each other.

    Lucky Jackson (Elvis) goes to Vegas hoping to win enough money to buy a car that will help him win the Grand Prix. Classic.

    It was a box office hit, and has become one of his Elvis's most loved films. It's gorgeous to look at, has some cracking songs, and is one of the most underrated films of the decade.