by Judi Uthus
The Agoura Hills’s 91301 film program highlighted the city’s film location legacy at this year’s Movie Under the Stars event. The community gathered at Reyes Adobe Historical Site Saturday for an evening focused on Elvis Presley’s 1956 film debut Love Me Tender. Named after Presley’s hit song, the film was primarily shot nearby at the previous 20th Century Fox Studio, now Malibu Creek State Park. Local author and movie buff Brian Rooney led a pre-movie discussion with Allyson Adams, daughter of actor Nick Adams, whose unpublished manuscript was discovered just a few years ago during a move and describes his friendship with Presley. They met on the movie set and after filming, Adams spent eight days with “the King” in the South.
Allyson was seven when her father was found dead in his apartment in 1968 at age 36. Discovering the manuscript in an old box of his memorabilia dating back 40 years, she published it unedited as The Rebel and The King, offering an insider view of Presley as he rose to stardom. “At first I thought I would turn it into a play or a movie, but to honor my Dad, I kept it a book,” she said during the Q & A.
“Both were dirt poor and both wanted to make it,” Allyson said, alluding to what probably bonded the men. Presley’s “Love Me Tender” had just sold a million copies and was used for the name of the western originally slated to be called the Reno Brothers. Nick Adams was on the set to read for a part in the movie but didn’t get it. “Elvis introduced himself to my Dad because he was a fan of Rebel Without a Cause. Although Adams had only a small role in the film, he received notoriety as part of Hollywood’s “rebel gang” that included James Dean and Dennis Hopper and others from the movie who became friends. After the filming, Presley invited Adams on his Memphis homecoming concert tour, and they stayed with his family in Tupelo, Mississippi. Adams, who also penned for fan magazines at the time, wrote about his eight days with Presley, describing in detail how close Presley was to his mother, the meals they ate and Presley’s relationship with his fans. “Elvis was still controversial then,” Allyson said, relating accounts from her dad’s manuscript. Police were at the concerts incase his “moves” caused concerns in the Bible Belt,. she said.
With The Rebel and The King in hand, many Elvis fans attended the 91301 Film program to meet Allyson and relive moments with others who had seen Elvis perform live. Fans of Nick Adams, best known for his role as “Johnny Yuma” in the television series The Rebel, were also part of the crowd. Several left with Rooney’s book Three Magical Miles, which highlights the many film location sites in the Santa Monica Mountains. (available at http://www.r7media.com/3MM.html). The Rebel and the King is available at www.therebelandtheking.com. In addition, Agoura Hills (Images of America) by Susan Pascal discusses Agoura Hills’s legacy as Picture City and is available at the Reyes Adobe Historical Site’s gift store, at the Recreation Center or online at most booksellers.
The Agoura Hills Cultural Arts Council Film 91301 program is dedicated to the art of filmmaking and brings thought-provoking programs and discussions to the public, working with local industry talent.