What links Elvis to LA Galaxy, via Mr Oizo?

With Baz Luhrmann’s Presley biopic in cinemas this week, dive down the rabbit hole with a one-hit wonder turned film-maker and a pair of Shues

From Memphis to Hollywood

Elvis Presley playing guitar, 1956
Elvis was directed by Baz Luhrmann … Photograph: Bettmann Archive

Baz Luhrmann’s take on Elvis was never going to be understated: “It’s not a movie so much as a 159-minute trailer for a film called Elvis,” concluded Peter Bradshaw. Fast-rising Austin Butler plays Presley, with Tom Hanks as a dastardly Colonel Tom Parker. It’s two decades since Luhrmann made a decent film: the new one is in UK cinemas on 24 June.

The sunscreen sessions

Flat Eric puppet
… who had a No 1 single in 1999, as did Mr Oizo … Photograph: Alamy

Elvis had 21 UK No 1 singles. Baz Luhrmann also achieved the feat with his Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen), an unexpected No 1 in 1999. It was the era’s equivalent of a Live, Laugh, Love poster. That was a good year for one-hit wonders, with Mambo No 5, Blue (Da Ba De) and Mr Oizo’s Flat Beat, which bounced from Levi’s ad to the top of the charts.

A French touch

Julie Delpy
… alter ego of Quentin Dupieux, who directed Deerskin, starring Albert Delpy, who appeared with his daughter Julie in On the Verge … Photograph: Getty Images

Quentin Dupieux, the Frenchman behind Mr Oizo, also directs surrealist films. 2019’s Deerskin, a black comedy about a vintage jacket, was the first to get a UK cinema release. Among its cast is Albert Delpy, a prolific stage and screen actor, as well as father of Julie Delpy – he played her dad on screen in two of her films and in her 2021 Netflix/Canal+ series On the Verge.

If the Shue fits

Andrew Shue
… also starring Elisabeth Shue, whose brother Andrew was in Melrose Place … Photograph: Getty Images

The show followed the LA lives of four friends in their late 40s, played by Delpy, Sarah Jones, Alexia Landeau and Elisabeth Shue. For a brief period in the 90s, her brother Andrew Shue almost became the more recognisable Shue, with his role as Billy in Melrose Place. He also had a minor career as a footballer, even occasionally playing for LA Galaxy while on TV.

The marriage plot

Priscilla Presley
… as was Priscilla Presley, who married Elvis in 1967. Photograph: Getty Images

Joining for a character arc as Nurse Benson in mid-period Melrose Place was Priscilla Presley. Long before her turn to acting in Dallas and the Naked Guns, she married Elvis in 1967. She’s played in Luhrmann’s film by Australian actor Olivia DeJonge, previously seen in Netflix’s “sci-fi Dawson’s Creek”, The Society. And with that, this mystery train reaches the end of the line.

Pairing notes

Read Greil Marcus’s revered 1975 book Mystery Train examines American culture through rock’n’roll – in 1991 he followed on with Dead Elvis: A Chronicle of a Cultural Obsession.

Drink In 2015, Luhrmann and costume designer wife Catherine Martin collaborated on the interiors for Faena Hotel Miami Beach. Their signature cocktail includes vodka, champagne, aperol, rose and hibiscus.


Larry Ryan

The GuardianTramp

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