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Love Me Tender is the film debut of Elvis Presley and an Americanmarker black and white motion picture directed by Robert D. Webb, released by 20th Century Fox on November 15, 1956. The film, named after the song, stars Richard Egan, Debra Paget, and Elvis Presley. It is in the Western genre with musical numbers. Because it was Presley's movie debut, it was the only time in his acting career that he did not receive top billing. Love Me Tender was originally to be titled The Reno Brothers, but when advanced sales of Presley's "Love Me Tender" single passed one million—a first for a single—the film title was changed to match.


Presley plays Clint Reno, one of the Reno brothers who stayed home while his brother went to fight in the American Civil War for the Confederate Army. The family is mistakenly informed that one of the brothers, Vance, has been killed on the battlefield. When his brother Vance comes back from the war, he finds that his old girlfriend, Cathy, has married Clint. Although Vance accepts this wholeheartedly ("We always wanted Cathy in the family"), the family has to struggle to reach stability with this issue. As a Confederate soldier, Vance is involved in a train robbery, in which he steals Federal Government money. A conflict of interest ensues when Vance tries to return the money against the wishes of some of his fellow Confederates. The film reaches its tragic conclusion with a gunfight between the two Reno brothers, ironically ending with Clint's murder.

Primary cast


Instead of a full long-playing album soundtrack, for Love Me Tender the four songs appearing in the film were released as an extended-play, seven-inch 45 RPM record on RCA Records, Love Me Tender, catalogue EPA 4006, during November 1956. It peaked at #9 on Top Pop Albums chart, as well as making it to #35 on the singles chart. The four EP soundtrack songs were recorded in a single at Fox's Stage One in Hollywoodmarker, at three sessions in August, September, and October 1956. The title song, "Love Me Tender," had already been released as a single on September 28, 1956, and went to #1 on the singles chart. The music was based on the Civil War ballad "Aura Lee," with new lyrics by Ken Darby. Darby, in fact, wrote all of the soundtrack songs, but credited them to his wife, Vera Matson, while the Colonel cut his publishing company, Hill and Range, in on the royalties by further crediting the writing to Presley as well. This was somewhat common practice in the 1950s.

A reprise of "Love Me Tender" was also recorded and is heard at the end of the film; this short track was not released until after Presley's death. The sessions for these songs were the only time in the decade that Presley recorded with musicians outside his regular coterie.


Track listing

Track Recorded Song Title Writer(s) Time
1. 8/24/56 Love Me Tender Vera Matson and Elvis Presley 2:41
2. 8-10/56 Let Me Vera Matson and Elvis Presley 2:08
3. 8-10/56 Poor Boy Vera Matson and Elvis Presley 2:13
4. 8/24/56 We're Gonna Move Vera Matson and Elvis Presley 2:30


  • This film was in the top 10 grossing films of 1956, at #8
  • A somewhat more realistic film telling the story of the Reno Brothers, Rage at Dawn starring Randolph Scott, had been released by RKO Radio Pictures only the year before.
  • During one scene in the movie, Elvis plays a Gibson L-5, which was not invented until 1922, even though the movie is set during the American Civil War.
  • Elvis' mother, Gladys, was so upset that her son's character had died in the movie, that Elvis told Colonal Parker that he never wanted to be killed in any more movies. And he never was.
  • Elvis' first stand-in on the movie was a young struggling actor from Los Angeles, the young man's name was Marco Lopez, and he would make a name for himself in the Jack Webb produced NBC/Universal series Emergency!

In the summer of 2006, the film was released on DVD in a special 50th anniversary issue. It was featured in a slipcase, and included a set of 4 lobby card reproductions. The disc contains the movie in its original widescreen letterbox format, plus audio commentary by noted Elvis historian (and Memphis Mafia member) Jerry Schilling. The disc also includes 3 featurettes: "Elvis Hits Hollywood", "The Colonel & The King", and "Love Me Tender: The Birth & Boom Of The Elvis Hit". Also part of the disc are original trailers for "Love Me Tender", "Flaming Star" and "Wild In The Country".

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