Elvis Presley, Richard Egan, and Debra Paget in Love Me Tender (1956)


(director: Robert D. Webb; screenwriters: Robert Buckner/from a story by Maurice Geraghty; cinematographer: Leo Tover; editor: Hugh S. Fowler; music: Lionel Newman; cast: Richard Egan (Vance Reno), Debra Paget (Cathy), Elvis Presley (Clint Reno), William Campbell (Brett Reno), Mr. Siringo (Robert Middleton), Mike Gavin (Neville Brand), Martha Reno (Mildred Dunnock), James Drury (Ray Reno), Bruce Bennett (Major Kincaid), L.Q. Jones (Pardee Fleming).; Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: David Weisbart; 20th Century Fox; 1956)

Elvis’s debut film and only time billed as a supporting actor.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Elvis’s debut film and only time billed as a supporting actor. It’s a routine Western that blends in music (4 songs, including hit record title song sung by a wriggling Elvis) and melodrama. The result was this cheapie, shot in black and white, that lucked out in casting Elvis, whose singing popularity propelled the film into a tremendous box office hit despite critics downgrading his performance and giving the film a rotten review. The studio renamed it from its original title The Reno Brothers after Elvis’s record was a hit before the movie release. Director Robert D. Webb (“Beneath the 12-Mile Reef”/”The Glory Brigade”/”The Proud Ones”) directs in a workmanlike manner, as writer Robert Buckner adopts Maurice Geraghty’ story.

In April 10 1865 at the Greenwood, Louisiana, train station, the three Reno brothers, Vance (Richard Egan), Brett (William Campbell) and Ray (James Drury), are part of a Confederate squad on a mission to rob a Union payroll train, not knowing the war is over. When the Rebels learn the war is over, they decide to keep it as the spoils of war and evenly split the stolen money and immediately return to their homes. The three brothers return to their Texas ranch, where the oldest brother Vance plans to marry his attractive sweetheart neighbor Cathy (Debra Paget). But the Reno family received an army letter that Vance was killed in action and Cathy marries the youngest Reno brother Clint (Elvis Presley), who stayed home to run the ranch for their widowed mom (Mildred Dunnock).

The brothers hide the stolen payroll in their barn and refuse to return it, even after a Pinkerton man (Robert Middleton) and the Yanks contact them a few months later and offer proof that they have the loot. When jailed, Vance works out a deal with the Pinkerton man to return the money and have the charges dropped, but a jail break occurs.

Things get complicated, and Clint flips out with jealousy when learning from Vance’s fellow Rebels that Cathy really loves Vance. Clint gets shot and to avoid a bleak ending, Clint later reappears as a ghost to sing again the title song as the family walks away from his grave.