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  • Writer's pictureMark Howitt

Elvis Forever: 1

A pitch for a short film.

August, 1977.

A married couple - let’s call them Jack and Diane - are going through a rough patch, Jack is often away on work. Jack buys tickets for the second concert on Elvis Presley’s forthcoming 12 date tour, which kicks off with two nights at Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine. Both he and Diane have been big Elvis fans since they first met as high school kids. Perhaps seeing Elvis in concert will rekindle the flame. On the morning of the concert we first see Jack returning from an overnight trip, before the couple start the drive from their home in Brunswick to a hotel in Portland.

After the first concert on 17th August, Elvis suffers a heart attack and the next morning - while Jack and Diane are on the road - he dies. Jack and Diane only learn this when they arrive in Portland and are devastated. Strangely though, it brings the couple closer together than they have been for many years, they visit the County Civic Center where fans are gathering, and lay flowers in memory of the King of Rock and Roll.

That evening, tired and emotional, they return to their hotel room. As Jack removes his jacket, two concert tickets drop out of his pocket. Diane picks them up, the camera closes in on them to reveal that they were for the previous night, the first concert of the tour, the last concert Elvis ever performed, but the ticket stubs have been torn off.

Realising her betrayal, tears start to slowly roll down Diane’s face, the camera pulls back and as the credits roll, we hear Elvis sing his 1956 hit Heartbreak Hotel.

Except Elvis didn’t die on 18th August, he died on 16th August and never started that 12 date tour. Shame, because that would be a brilliant film, so brilliant that by now someone else, someone with, say, a cine camera or a clapperboard, would have made it by now. However, there is a play about that final cancelled tour produced by NoLogoProductions.

“Are You Lonesome Tonight? is a one act play by Andy Moseley. It tells the story of Dwight and Leanne, an ordinary American couple about to celebrate their twentieth wedding anniversary in 1977. Dwight's special present for his wife is tickets for every date of an Elvis Presley tour, after all he was the man that got them together in the first place, so what better present could there be? The only problems are his wife is no longer as fond of Elvis as he is, and today is August 16, and Elvis is about to leave the building for the last time.“

Although it was performed at The Counting House in Edinburgh in 2010, I didn’t see it, but it sounds interesting, got good reviews and, unlike my film pitch, is underpinned by the reality of the death of Elvis occurring at Graceland, the day before that 12 date tour was due to start. I've ordered a copy of the script of the play and I look forward to reading it when it arrives.

But the thing is, there really would have been people who bought tickets to see Elvis on all 12 dates of that tour. There are very few artists who command that sort of devotion.

He was - and to this day, remains - a one-off.

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