'Loving You: Something For The Girls' by Pål Granlund and David English released by FTD. Pål Granlund and his people have produced an unbelievably beautiful book filled to the brim with classic and previously unreleased photos from the making of 'Loving You'. The text provides us useful information, and the design is simply breathtaking. 528 pages total. Size is 24,5 x 31,5 cm. [9.5" x 13"] The book follows the format of the Frame By Frame books, but different to those books, this package includes a CD (nothing previously unreleased).
Read what Gordon Minto has to say about this book below ...
Tracks 'Something For The Girls':
Tracks 1-12 from the album Loving You LPM 1515, released July 01, 1957
The process of researching, compiling and writing any book - be it a novel, short story or work of non-fiction - is much more difficult and time-consuming than most people would imagine, as I know only too well from first-hand experience. The task can, almost literally, take over your life. But when that work centres around one of the most written-about artists of the twentieth century - in this case, Elvis Presley - then the task is made even more challenging, especially if you are revisiting old ground. The pressure to offer something new and original for the fans is extremely high. Of course, not all those who produce works about Elvis use this ethic as their guiding principle, settling instead for rehashing material and thus exploiting the fans in a variety of ways. Personally though, I find this approach unsettling and unseemly - not to say unfair. And without pointing the finger at anyone in particular, I think we all know who these people are. Fortunately, in recent years there has been a renewed vigour and sense of purpose about some of the new books appearing, many of which break new ground in a genuinely innovative and exciting way, fleshing out the Elvis story in unprecedented detail. I'm happy to say that this work - Something For The Girls - falls neatly into that category. Let me tell you why.
Unless you're a complete recluse (or a Cliff Richard fan!) then you hardly need reminding that the film 'Loving You' wasn't Elvis' first venture into movie-making. That honour went to the Twentieth Century Fox film 'Love Me Tender' - a western set during the period immediately after the American Civil War - and by common consent a most unusual vehicle for the movie debut of a young rock 'n' roll singer. But 'Loving You' (as the film became known) was altogether more appropriate, especially as its story-line - embodying an almost traditional 'rags-to-riches' theme - was based quite heavily on Mary Agnes Thompson's short story 'A Call From Mitch Miller', which although written several years before, first appeared in print in the June 1956 edition of Good Housekeeping magazine (reprinted in this book for your interest). Entirely coincidentally, it implied and reflected some of Elvis' own experiences in his rise to national fame. Unsurprisingly then, when it was released, it found favour amongst the fandom (in contrast to his first movie which had actually distressed fans, as his character had died at the end) - because fans could see that there was a bit of Deke in Elvis and vice-versa, of course. And that generally held affection for the movie has not diminished at all over the years. It is still held in extremely high esteem, and I would respectfully suggest that this book will simply enhance that feeling.
In sharp contrast to some of his films from the mid-sixties, many of which were rattled off with little regard for quality or artistic credibility, the production schedule for Loving You spanned two months from January to March 1957 (a mere year since he had emerged onto the pop scene in such a blaze of publicity - much of it highly critical, damning and damaging). Co-authors, Pal Granlund and David English, are especially pleased to able to show - for the first time ever - the recently-found day-by-day production schedule which has been presented here in considerable detail for your interest and enjoyment. It makes for fascinating reading, especially when you match it up against the photographic evidence. And needless to say, what is very clear is that throughout that period Elvis worked very hard either on the film set, or in one of the two recording studios where he cut the soundtrack along with other material, with little opportunity for down-time.
Meanwhile, producer Hal Wallis (who had arranged a screen-test as early as March 1956 and, recognising this young man's potential, had quickly signed him up to a film deal), and director Hal Kanter had done their homework - as you will see as you browse through the photos and various pieces of fascinating documentation provided in the book. They set out and succeeded in harnessing Elvis' obvious talents (which extended way beyond his musical ability) and to produce a film of worth. Unique among directors who worked with Elvis, Kanter met and visited him, his family and friends, at his Memphis home prior to the film being made, but even more significantly watched him perform and deliver a stunning show on his final appearance on the Louisiana Hayride in December 1956. His experience of seeing Elvis first-hand - which is detailed in the text of this book - helped shape his presentation of the young star in Loving You. And although it was a fictional and, at times, melodramatic tale, a number of aspects of it rang true to those who watched it. As it must have done to Elvis, too. He wouldn't have missed the obvious semi-autobiographical allusions, either, though it would be wrong and misleading to overstate this.
But to return to the earlier comments I made about the difficulties surrounding researching and writing a book. By the time you read this book it will probably have taken almost two years from its inception to publication. The co-authors started the process in early 2012 when they met in London to discuss possible future joint projects. One of the topics discussed was Pal's wish to do a comprehensive book on Loving You (as he had done with 'Jailhouse Rock' and 'King Creole') but unfortunately at that time he didn't have enough photographic material to warrant a new book or progress the project. Coincidentally though, David, in his research for the Welcome Home Elvis and Memphis To Hollywood books, had discovered a new source of previously unpublished information at Paramount in the USA - specifically documentation relating to filming details. This implied that there may also have been photographic material available too. Accordingly, they arranged to travel to the USA in the summer of 2012 and began their research in earnest.
The initial results were not particularly encouraging but, undeterred, very soon after this they uncovered the sort of things they had been hoping to find - lots of previously unseen publicity photographs along with accompanying documentation - both of which made the project much more likely. But the mother-lode was struck in the spring of 2013 when, on another trip to the USA, David was able to unearth a further 100 previously unseen images which confirmed that the book was a viable proposition. And as you will see from its contents the book offers not only fascinating details about the production of the film but some simply stunning photographs - most of which tell their own story.
In conclusion, I suppose what remained absolutely thrilling for me as I proofread and edited the text was the opportunity to read new background information about a film I have loved for so many years and to savour the great photographs - taken by stills photographers Bud Fraker and Mal Bulloch - which accompany the text. But it is also humbling to consider the amount of sheer hard work and ferreting out of information that has gone on behind-the-scenes in order for us all to experience that. We owe the guys who have produced such fine work a huge vote of thanks for their efforts. Would anyone like to second that.
Gordon Minto - October 2013.