News Clippings

First Night

11 May 2011

FIRST NIGHT

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“ ‘E’s the best, ain’t ‘e,” said the street dealer as he fumbled for my change.

“Of course,” I agreed laughingly, as I pocketed my Elvis photos.

I glance up at Elvis. He was laughing, too. Miss Prowse, however, looked as though she was more interested in Elvis. Yes, I mused, they have made quite a good job of the huge, coloured placard of Elvis and Juliet Prowse, which almost hid the front of the Plaza Cinema, in London.

It was the premiere of “G.I. Blues” in Great Britain and the queue, which stretched for a block, knew it. “You will love the new Elvis,” the placards announced, but there was no question about it, they already did. The girls were laughing, all talking at once, and bursting with excitement. The male followers pretended not to be interested, but their eyes were gleaming in anticipation. Every now and then a flash bulb would pop, to add to the confusion. The men who were taking the photographs were standing all over the road, halting the noisy traffic.

Everybody was inside now. They were waiting tensely, almost thinking aloud. “Will it be good?” “How will he turn out?” “What is it like?” Most people covered up their feelings talking or smoking, until the lights went out.

Then, at last, the Board of Censors certificate appeared on the screen, with the title “G.I. BLUES.” There was an impromptu burst of screaming and cheering, then quiet again.

The green tanks rumbled slowly nearer the camera, then, yes, in a flash, he was there. The audience gave out, they screamed, they yelled and they cried. When it had died down you could almost see the sighs of absolute wonder rising through the smoke.

After that, it was the same old story, but with a difference. Looking from the end of the row down, during the Elvis songs, looking at the sea of rising hands and knees, beating time to the music, was the same as all the other pictures made by Elvis. But this time there was laughter, too. Hearty laughter. Gurgles of laughter. Happy laughter.

As the audience left the cinema, everyone still looked happy. Quite happy ...

George Barlow, Elvis Monthly, January 1961


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