1 Movie Made Elvis and Priscilla Presley Cry Themselves to Sleep

Elvis Presley starred in a lot of movies — and he loved a lot of classic films. For example, he loved one film so much he cried over it with Priscilla Presley. Here’s a look at an old movie he wanted to remake. 

Priscilla and Elvis Presley near a plane
Priscilla and Elvis Presley | Bettmann / Contributor

Elvis Presley’s favorite movies were mostly classics

Elvis wasn’t just a movie star — he was a movie fanatic. In her book Elvis and Me, Priscilla revealed her husband liked a lot of older films. Some of these classics included It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Mr. Skeffington, Letter from an Unknown Woman, and the Fredric March version of Les Misérables. Priscilla also said Elvis loved a film adaptation of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, although she did not specify which one. The most prominent movie adaptation of the novel released during Elvis’ lifetime was the 1939 version starring Laurence Olivier.

The trailer for Wuthering Heights

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Elvis Presley wanted to remake one of his favorite movies with his father in the lead role

One movie, in particular, caused Elvis to cry himself to sleep. “We cried ourselves to sleep over The Way of All Flesh, which concerns a banker who plans to carry a large sum of money out of state, only to discover upon awakening the following morning that he has been robbed,” Priscilla recalled. “Stripped of everything, he takes to the streets, surviving among the derelicts, an outcast. Years later, one Christmas night, he wanders into his hometown and peers through the window to see his wife and children, now grown, opening their presents.”

Priscilla described the film’s devastating finale. “Sensing his presence but never recognizing him, his wife takes pity on the lonely old man and invites him in to share the evening with her family. He declines, heading down the snowy street alone. Elvis identified so thoroughly with the story that he toyed with the idea of a remake. He intended to cast Vernon in the lead role.” This remake never came to fruition, though, and Vernon didn’t start a career in the movies.

Vernon, Elvis, and Gladys Presley near curtains
Vernon, Elvis, and Gladys Presley | Bettmann / Contributor

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Does ‘The Way of All Flesh’ have a legacy outside of Elvis’ love of it?

Interestingly, the American Film Institute reports The Way of All Flesh was a remake of a 1927 silent film of the same name. Victor Fleming, the director of such classics as The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, directed the silent version of The Way of All Flesh. The remake exists as part of a larger trend in Old Hollywood — of the film industry remaking silent films with updated sound technology.

Some old movies like Citizen Kane and Casablanca have gone on to inspire generations of filmmakers and critics. On the other hand, The Way of All Flesh languishes in relative obscurity. The fact that Priscilla gave it a shout-out in Elvis and Me, however, seems to have given the film at least a touch of relevance.