Friday, September 21, 2012


I love when various driving passions of my life come together and form a little piece of heaven here on earth, no matter how fleeting. For instance: ice cream + Starbucks = Starbucks Java Frappucino Ice Cream in the freezer section of my local supermarket.

Now, I love Elvis and I love cult/psychotronic/bad movies. Lord knows, Elvis' own movies are themselves a perfect blending of those two elements. 

By happenstance, I discovered a mention of TOUCHED BY LOVE, an Elvis-related flick from 1980. I haven't seen it but I am now looking into the darkest corners of the internet to find it.

This is apparently a sensitive drama about a young nurse who becomes determined to reach an unresponsive teenage cerebral palsy patient by encouraging her to write to her favorite rock singer, Elvis Presley. Incredibly, this seems to be based on true events(!). The movie is based on a memoir entitled TO ELVIS, WITH LOVE by Lena Canada (published in 1978). 

As with any film, the first thing that catches my attention is the cast. TOUCHED BY LOVE is peppered with faces that would be familiar to the aficionado of cult/psychotronic/bad movies: a pre-hotness Diane Lane; Deborah Raffin (DEATH WISH 3); John Amos (from GOOD TIMES, the 1970s TV series); Clu Galager (RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD); Mary Wickes(!) (she has been around since the 1930s);and Cristina Raines ('member her from the cheesy, sleazy THE SENTINEL?)).

Of even more interest to me is the director of this flick.

Let's think for a minute: who would you expect to find as the director of such tear-jerking material as this? 

Why, none other than Gus Trikonis, of course. 


In 1981, Gus directed TAKE THIS JOB AND SHOVE IT (which has an even more amazing cast that only an aficionado of cult/psychotronic/bad movies could love: Robert Hays (AIRPLANE); Barbara Hershey (*swoon*); Tim Thomerson (TRANCERS); Eddie Albert (THE LONGEST YARD); Martin Mull; Art Carney).

Also in 1981, Gus directed another Elvis-related pic (this one a TV movie)(!), ELVIS AND THE BEAUTY QUEEN w/Don Johnson as a fat Elvis (!!) and Stephanie Zimbalist as Linda Thompson(!!!).  This one I do remember seeing and my only lasting impression was thinking that Don Johnson was horrible as Elvis (I seem to recall Don having unconvincing sideburns and wearing those very Elvis sunglasses in every scene). 

Again, I havent seen TOUCHED BY LOVE, but a quick perusal of the internet finds straight-faced descriptions (on of scenes like "Even more moving is a scene where Karen breaks free from the shackles of her physical and psychological despair and begins dancing in her wheelchair to Teddy Bear. Despite her love and admiration for Elvis there is an incredible inner tension for the crippled Karen: "He's so alive. I love him…I could never move like that". "

Maybe it is just that description of that scene but I think this flick sounds hilarious. It sounds like this flick is played too straight and so it tips over into unintentional comedy and the distance of time has probably turned it into a camp classic.  I just dont see the director of SUPERCOCK being able to make scenes like this actually work. Diane Lane became a fine actress years later but she is still a kid here and I expect her performance will be no more than that of a child actor being told by the director of SUPERCOCK how to act dramatically, being told by the director of SUPERCOCK how to act with cerebral palsy, no less.

I guess "Elvis" doesnt make an appearance in the movie; there is no listing in the credits on IMDB for any character named "Elvis". 

Elvis does appear on the soundtrack however. Again, from "Of the six Elvis songs featured in Touched By Love only two are sung by Elvis (Love Me Tender and Reddy Teddy). The others (Don't Be Cruel; Teddy Bear; Hound Dog I Was The One and a second version of Love Me Tender) are very competently sung by a singer shown only in the credits as Alan." 

Icing on the cake: "The end statement of the film says it all: 'To Elvis Presley for his compassion and ability to spread joy'."

Must. See. This. 

No, no, wait, let me amend that: Must. Smoke. Some. Weed. And. Then. Watch. This.

1 comment:

Blofeld's Cat said...

More incredible is that, according to IMDB, the music score for this flick is by none other than my favorite film composer of all time, John Barry. Yes, that John Barry who scored James Bond films, and many other memorable scores.