For all the years I’ve listened to Elvis Presley, for all the years I’ve studied the Civil War, and for all the years I’ve lived in Hollywood…I’m a little embarrassed to reveal that I had no idea Love Me Tender was (sort of) a Civil War film. That’s right – the King’s 1956 acting debut was set during the Civil War. The rough plot: Clint Reno (Elvis) stays behind to watch over the family while his brothers go off to fight for the Confederacy. When Vance Reno returns from the army, he discovers (much to his irritation) that his younger brother Clint has married his sweetheart, Cathy. You see…the family thought Vance had been killed in battle so Clint made his move. As you might guess that leads to some uncomfortable scenes. I won’t spoil the ending – but things get ugly.
There’s more too. All of this takes place against a backdrop of high drama. You see…the Reno brothers, serving as Rebel Cavalrymen, had robbed a train carrying a Federal payroll jut one day after the end of the war (imagine that!). A moral dilemma ensues…do they return the money or keep it as spoils of war? You’ll just have to watch the film to find out.
And just for fun, the film’s title song – a HUGE hit for Elvis – is actually set to the music of Aura Lee, an 1861 tune written by George R. Poulton and W. W. Fosdick. Have a listen…it might sound familiar.
And of course…Elvis