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by Victoria Alexander

Keeps the myth alive of a virgin and a hillbilly. Coppola has no insight. Maybe it was just a paid gig. It has no director’s vision, point of view, or interpretation. It’s a bore.

Priscilla Presley’s life aim is to present her marriage to “The King” as one of history’s great doomed love stories: Cleopatra and Marc Antony, Romeo and Juliet, Victoria and Albert and Elvis and Priscilla.

With Priscilla Presley the executive producer and based on her 1985 memoir Elvis and Me, we have her official version. There are no surprises here. There is absolutely nothing insightful. It’s a big bore. Priscilla refuses to look at her marriage in a bright light – would we have criticized her for staying with him if he was mean to her. Elvis was mean? Our Elvis? But Priscilla was too naïve! She was dumb throughout her marriage.

In PRISCILLA, Elvis (Jacob Elordi) is considerate, attentive and is always kissing her. She is so adorable until the pills take control of him. 

And without sex, her karate teacher starts to look good. I think they may have had sex.

I have good reasons for adding a few public biographical details about Sofia Coppola, who wrote the screenplay and directed PRISCILLA. Considering Coppola’s life, she would seem the best person to understand the dynamics of the Presley marriage, the demands of fame and the pitfalls of making movies. Because, Coppola’s father, Francis, is a very famous, renowned director and his wife Eleanor chronicled the stress of his filmmaking; Coppola married Spike Jonze (m. 1999-2003), a well-known director and is married to Thomas Mars (m. 2011), a musician. Coppola knows famous marriages bring their children certain privileges. 

Their 16-year-old daughter, Romy, made a TikTok video in her parents’ kitchen. Romy said, “Make vodka sauce pasta with me because I’m grounded because I tried to charter a helicopter from New York to Maryland on my dad’s credit card because I wanted to have dinner with my camp friend.” 

If that is life at the Coppola-Mars house, imagine what life was really like at Graceland.

Coppola gave Presley exactly what she wanted. Knowing her own life experiences, Coppola should have explored the dynamics of the marriage with a deeper understanding. 

Coppola lacks the skill to take the material and deliver the truth buried underneath the myth.

In 2004, Coppola’s LOST IN TRANSLATION was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Coppola was 33 years old when she won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Coppola’s initial screenplay for LOST IN TRANSLATION was reportedly not really a screenplay at all, but a short “scriptment” featuring bits of dialogue, thoughts, and pictures. The finished screenplay came in at – the reports vary - either 70 or 75 pages. Amazing, huh?

Was Coppola hired to faithfully bring Presley’s memoir to the screen? If so, she did an adequate job. A more skillful director would have been able to show the psychological dimensions and pressures within the marriage.

We all know the famous details: Elvis met Priscilla when she was not yet fifteen. Priscilla was a virgin and Elvis waited until their marriage to have sex. She wanted sex but Elvis refused intercourse. Did they engage in other forms of intimacy besides kissing? They did enjoy taking photos of each other in their bedroom – sexy, but innocent Polaroids. In Elvis, What Happened?, Elvis was a voyeur and had two-way mirrors installed and liked to watch others and tape his intimate time with women. But not with Priscilla.

Do you think Priscilla was the most popular, envied girl at school? No! When Elvis was at Graceland, he must have had famous guests and wild, loud parties, but Priscilla had homework to do.

Then Priscilla ruined everything by getting pregnant. His crew knew his sexual preferences. Fourteen-year-old Priscilla was perfect. She was a child and with Catholic morals. She never figured out that she was supposed to continue to stay a shy, sexually awkward teenager. Elvis was sexually complicated, and everyone knew but Priscilla.

It’s not Priscilla’s fault. In the film all of Elvis’s relationships with other women were staged movie publicity. He never has sex with anyone else in PRISCILLA.

Think about how Will Smith needs and craves Jada’s public humiliation. The well-known masochism of King Edward VIII, who abdicated his throne to “marry the woman I love”, is an example of a woman knowing what a man wants and needs sexually to be satisfied. There is so much public shame in the Duke’s relationship with his wife, I must include it.*

Priscilla gets pregnant immediately and that is the end of sex for them. Elvis’s Memphis Mafia said Elvis would never have sex with any woman they had been with, no married women and absolutely no women who had children. Coppola does not explore this because after all, Priscilla is still a Presley and while we know things about Elvis’s life, the myth must be maintained.

Elordi is terrific as Elvis but unfortunately, Coppola did not fall in love with her star. Elordi deserved more close-ups. Priscilla leaves with just her baby and a suitcase. Elvis continues his world domination.

By the time Priscilla left, she had wised-up. Her after-Elvis lifestyle was richly provided for.

According to Celebrity Net Worth, when Priscilla and Elvis split in 1973, she got a one-time payment of $725,000. On top of that, Priscilla was granted spousal support, child support, 5 percent of Elvis' royalties, and half the money from the sale of their house. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Priscilla Presley has a total net worth of $50 million. This net worth is before Presley sold the movie rights and her executive producer contract.

Priscilla is indeed in the Gilded Cage of Graceland. Mostly, Coppola films Priscilla just standing and sitting around the empty mansion. She had no friends, interests or hobbies. I assume there was Graceland staff around. Why didn’t her mother or anyone close to her, advise her of the opportunities she has?

I would have liked to see Elvis demand she stay a living doll. She did not pursue higher education or start a fashion line. She wasn’t even permitted a bicycle. It was a prison cell she couldn’t even decorate! Priscilla never meets the nefarious, ever-present Colonel Parker. Why did Coppola leave out their relationship? Surely, Priscilla was well aware of Parker’s dominance over Elvis. Did Elvis need “a demanding, controlling, angry” father figure? But all the intrigue, inner life of Elvis is not here. Priscilla is a blank slant. We are so sorry for Priscilla. Like Bianca Jagger, Priscilla has never given up that magic last name. Jackie Kennedy was the first, and likely last, woman to dump her famous last name. 

Unless Meghan Markle’s next husband is Tom Cruise, she’s keeping her Duchess title for life. Is there a slot open for a “Queen” anywhere? Isn’t there a royal wife who keeps trying to escape a tiny principality?


*The Duchess of Windsor publicly was a bully and sadist to her husband, and he loved it. Her ghostwriter hears the Duke say to her: “Darling, are you going to send me to bed in tears again tonight?“The Duke’s equerry said: “At his request, they became involved in elaborate erotic games. These included nanny-child scenes: he wore diapers; she was the master. She was dominant, he happily submissive.” The Duke had a foot fetish and gained pleasure from being beaten by Wallis, who delivered the strokes with her own small whip.

The ALL is Mind; The Universe is Mental.”

🍅 Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer Critic. For a complete list of 

Victoria Alexander's movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes go to:

Contributing to:FilmsInReview: 

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society


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