Clint Reno (Elvis Presley) stays at home during the Civil War, unlike his brothers Vance (Richard Egan – Pollyanna), Brett (William Campbell – The Naked and the Dead, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte), and Ray (James Drury – Blackboard Jungle) who go off to fight in the Confederate army. Clint has stayed at home to take care of Mother Reno (Mildred Dunnock – The Pick-Up Artist, Butterfield 8) and the family farm. Misinformation leads Clint to believe that his brother Vance was killed during the war. When Vance returns home he discovers that his girlfriend Cathy (Debra Paget – The Ten Commandments, Stars and Stripes Forever) has married Clint. Due to this there is much tension within the family. While he was still part of the Confederate army, Vance took part in the robbery of a train containing Federal money. Mr. Siringo (Robert Middleton -The Great Imposter) circulates that whoever has stolen the money will not be punished if they return it. A conflict arises between Vance and his fellow Confederate officers when he tries to return the money.
Definitely one of Elvis's stronger films, Love Me tender was Elvis's feature film debut and the story was reworked to showcase his singing. The only inconsistency of his performance occurred during his singing numbers where he swung his hips like it was the 1950s as opposed to the 1860s. The film starts off slow, but definitely gets better. Director Robert D. Webb (The Jackals) got the most out of Presley and does not focus too much on him to the detriment of the film. He allows the drama to flow out of the script without it being too much. The film, which is a decent Western, examines the difficult post-war time for former soldiers and their families. Love Me Tender is worth a watch for any Elvis fan.
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